As both a reader and a person, I firmly believe in finishing what I’ve started.
Due to that logic, I’ve never formally put down a book and mark it as a Did Not Finish. What I did do was mark it as “on hold” because some part of me always felt like I could potentially come back to the book someday and try again. Some books get put on hold because of different circumstances, so the system has some merit.
But actually telling myself that there is no chance of me ever finishing a book? That has never happened. Until now.
The book in question is Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff, the second book in The Nevernight Chronicle series. Many people have praised not just this book but the overall series. I had previously read the first book a couple years ago, obviously, and liked it enough to at least purchase the second book. However, said book sat on my shelf for over two years not being read because I had other, more important things to do and read. But with quarantine and being stuck inside every day, it felt like the right time to finally crack Godsgrave open and get through it.
Good idea, right? Wrong.
It only took me 35 pages to decide that there is no chance that I will ever be able to read that book. The thing that bothered me the most about Nevernight, and Godsgrave by extension, is that Kristoff insists on writing all of these footnotes to further expand whatever universe he’s writing in and honestly, I don’t have time for books with footnotes. I want to read the story at hand, not stop every other paragraph to read a footnote about something that apparently wasn’t important enough to be included in the original story but could be implemented with a footnote. It disrupts my reading flow and to see precious page space being wasted with a half-page long footnote is rather infuriating. This kind of style also appeared in Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons, which I DNF’d quickly after deciding to DNF Godsgrave, and I’m starting to think the senior editors at Tor might need to start reevaluating their taste. This is also a book that did not have page breaks following each chapter, something I personally hate, and is yet another factor in discouraging me to read something. I guess the typesetter had to find a way to save pages with all those footnotes, eh?
But beyond that, in my opinion, Kristoff has such a pretentious prose, which I absolutely felt in Nevernight, that it truly drove me away not just from finishing Godsgrave but from wanting to pick up any other book from him again. It’s as if I can feel through the pages how high he thinks he is above me and I don’t vibe with that at all. However, my biggest qualm is that this is, as far as I’ve learned, a near-50 year old man writing about a 17 year old girl in a story that’s half graphically violent and half graphically sexual. As I’ve previously stated, I don’t like reading books by male authors because I don’t trust them to write female characters the way they deserve. And to see the way Kristoff writes Mia, especially in such sexual ways, it makes me very uncomfortable. Now, does it bother me because he’s a man? Because of his age? Or just because a character like Mia, regardless of who’s written her, is a character that I just personally don’t like to read about? I don’t know; it could be a combination of all things. It doesn’t bother me that there’s violence in a book, or that there’s a lot of sexual content, but what bothers me is how repetitive and disturbingly graphic it can all be when it truly has no relevance to the story beyond feeling extremely gratuitous. That’s how I felt when I opened up Godsgrave and through some skimming and Google searches of the plot, I felt that I just could not put myself through continuing. So if this is how I felt just after 35 pages I cannot imagine what I’d be thinking after over 400 pages of the same thing over and over again.
I keep trying to figure out who this book, and by extension this series, is actually written for and while I can’t really figure out its target audience, I do know for sure that it’s not written for me. And I am perfectly ok with that and will lose very little sleep over it.
Me deciding not to finish a book does not mean that the overall book is bad or that others don’t deserve to enjoy it. I’m sure there are hundreds of books that I’ve praised until I’ve run out of air that others have immediately DNF’d like I have with Godsgrave. That’s just how it goes sometimes. We all like different things. But if there’s a moral to this story, it’s that there’s absolutely no reason to put yourself through a chore like finishing a book you know you’re immediately going to dislike. It’s 2020 and no one has time for that anymore.
Overall, I’m not upset that I’ve had to DNF a book; I’m upset that I spent $35 on a book that I don’t want to read, or even own, and I can’t even return it.