DNF reviews

How That "DNF" Review "Thingy" Keeps Haunting Me…

I posted recently that I’d just heard of this “DNF” review grade/rating/internet-thingy…which, for those who still don’t know, means, “Did Not Finish.” As an author, I don’t think it’s ever happened to me, so no one can say I’m complaining about any of my own book reviews. It’s just that I honestly don’t get why anyone would bother taking a “DNF” review seriously.

And since I discovered “DNF” reviews, I coincidentally started reading the worst book I’ve read in years. What makes this particular book even more pitiful is that it was written by a New York Times bestselling author with a long list of published novels. I’m not going to mention names or titles. I won’t do that because I don’t want this to become a review blog. And this post isn’t a review of the book I read.

But I will mention that the book revolves around three women: a college age daughter, a middle aged mother, and an ex-mother-in-law/grandmother who is in her sixties. They all embark on a cross country road trip and the “fun” ensues (I’m twirling my finger right now). And you’d think that with three generations, and a road trip, there would be at least one likable character to hold on to. But not so.

But this isn’t a book review and I realize that this just wasn’t the right book for me, which happens. But it is an example of my point in an earlier blog post about “DNF.” I could have stopped reading. I could have deleted the entire book from my e-reader and it wouldn’t have made a difference in the quality of my life one way or the other. I could have left a bitter, scathing review on goodreads or amazon and felt a brief moment of blind vindication.

But I didn’t stop reading. I plowed through until the end, literally groaning out loud at some points (there was a scene at the Grand Canyon where I wanted to shove them all over.). And even though I didn’t like the book, I understand (objectivity) how other’s might like it…or love it for that matter. It’s pure escapism, from cover to cover. But it’s trying too hard to be realism instead of escapism for my taste.

After this reading experience, I still don’t get this “DNF” thing at all. It’s one thing to stop reading a book and move on…no problem there. It’s just that when I read comments and ratings and reviews for books that were never finished I have to wonder the about the motivation…or lack of motivation in some cases.

I suffered through this particular book and I knew I wasn’t even going to review or rate it in public anywhere. Finishing everything is a personal objective with me. When I begin something I see it through until the end. And, because I had the tenacity to get through this nightmare of a book, I will admit that the ending wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was, in fact, worth my time in the end, and all the complaining I did while I was reading.

But more than that, I’d recommend the book to people who I think would enjoy it (my mother would probably love it). I do know plenty who would, in spite of the fact that I hated it so much. And what a terrible shame it would have been if I’d stopped reading mid-way and written a scathing public review before I’d had a chance to see how it ended.

About This "DNF" Business…

I’ve received a few e-mails from people regarding the “DNF” post I wrote a couple of days ago. Some of the e-mails are funny, all in good fun, moving along with the light-hearted spirit in which the post was written.

But some people were vehemently against DNF reviews and they weren’t shy about stating their opinions. And others violently support DNF reviews, as if it were a cult or religion…to the point of using pejoratives and ranting about the Internet.

Frankly, I had no idea I would be poking the caged tiger. In fact, at the end of the post I praised DNF reviews because I’d found another great book thanks to a DNF review. I was simply sharing something I’d recently learned, and from the replies I received, a lot of people didn’t know what a “DNF” review was. I’m sure a lot still don’t. I’m even more certain most people don’t care and never will. If you don’t believe me, hop over to your local supermarket and take a random poll. “Excuse me,” You can ask, “Do you know what a DNF is?” I’ll bet you’ll be surprised by both the expressions and the replies you’ll garner.

But the point is I’m not for or against DNF reviews. This isn’t a political or religious topic. And it’s not even a topic on which I feel the need to form an opinion. It is what it is. I was just pointing out that I have my own personal rules and goals in life. I’m strict about finishing what I start. In other words, you’re not going to come to my house and see half-painted walls, half finished projects, and half read books. When I start something, whether it’s a book or a home improvement project, I finish it. And even if I don’t like the results, I’m always satisfied, on an emotional level, with the fact that I stuck it out. I never thought I’d learn to drive a manual transmission. I almost Did Not Finish. But I did, and I’m glad I suffered through it.

So those who wrote hate letters in support of DNF reviews: calm yourselves. Seriously. I can understand and respect those who don’t feel the need to finish things. I “get” what DNF means now. No one should have to finish a book…or any other project…if they don’t feel like finishing. Not everyone subscribes to the same set of standards. I know a guy who started remodeling his bathroom ten years ago and he’s still not finished. I have another friend who starts a new craft project every six months and never finishes a thing. And there’s nothing wrong with this.

But I do think that some of the more aggressive types out there should take it all a little lighter. It’s a DNF. It’s a rating for a book review, not the results of an MRI. It has no huge emotional or phsyical impact on the quality of anyone’s life one way or the other. And life’s really too damn short to get all worked up for nothing.