Every now and then, or very frequently, everyone has a moment where they would rather not finish the book they’re reading. Since the start of this year, there were three major books that I did not finish: Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones, Cromartie High School Vol. 1 by Eiji Nonaka, and Tell a Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya.
This post is not meant to slam these books because a lot of work has gone into these books, and I have seen raving reviews for them, especially the first in this list. I just want to share why I have chosen to stop partway through these books.
Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones
This novel starts shortly after the events of Wintersong, which retells primarily “The Goblin Market.” Liesl has to go to Vienna to join her brother, Josef, at the start of his musical career. Unfortunately, Josef has turned cold and distant. She also can’t stop thinking about the young Goblin King she left behind in the Underground, and the Underground wants her back. The barrier between the worlds is crumbling without an appropriate sacrifice.
I got about one third of the way through. I’ve been looking forward to this sequel, but the events of the book do not at all live up to Wintersong. If we’re going to move so slowly about the lives of Liesl and Josef, I want to see more progress on the goblins and their destruction of their king. The Vienna scenes drag for me. I don’t see myself finishing the series or restarting this book.
Cromartie High School, Vol. 1 by Eiji Nonaka
MyAnimeList says that this shounen comedy started to be serialized in 2000. This really smart guy tries to prove to his friend that it doesn’t matter which high school you go to because you can study anywhere. He promises his stupid buddy that he’ll apply to a reform school with him, and then he ends up being there by himself. What follows are his antics to study and to survive this school.
I bought this book a few years ago, and it was one of the first manga I bought from a used bookstore in this town. I think the reason I don’t want to finish it is that it comes from an obviously different era and that I am not its target audience.
Tell A Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya
This was a required read for a postcolonial literature class that I didn’t take. At some point during that semester, the class invited anyone to come and participate in the discussion about the book while they video-called the author. I went but hadn’t read the book at that time, and the discussion made me more interested in reading the book.
What is this book about? Through the part I read, the book is mostly set in a village and a city somewhere in India. There are twin girls, one dark-skinned and one light-skinned, whose fates are controlled by their grandmother and their skin color. To quote the back of the book, “Dark skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife…. Fair skinned and pretty, her twin sister Lata would rather study medicine than get married.” As Pullamma prepares for her older sister’s bride viewing, extraordinary events happen to change her future forever.
I tried to read it earlier this year, but I got annoyed and bored with it about one-third of the way through. I hoped it was going to go into more detail into the life of Lata, the sister who is trying to become a doctor, but thus far it hasn’t been about her and she will never achieve that dream. Instead, everything is about Pullamma, and I’m annoyed at how easily she believed she was a goddess after insisting that she wasn’t. She had already annoyed me with her pushing the very sexist ideas about women’s place. I know it’s shown as the culture around her, but I was hoping at least that Lata would start making progress toward her dreams or that Pullamma would realize she might have similar dreams or skills like her twin. At this point, nothing like that is happening, and I can’t bring myself to finish it after going months without reading it. This has just been disappointing.
Have you read these books? Should I give these books a second try? Which books have you DNF recently?