Should You Review Books You Don’t Finish?

I’ve recently been stuck on a book for 3 weeks now, and it seems as I really can’t seem to spend more time with it. I received it from Netgalley, and I’m not sure if I should review it anyways (I got to 30%) or if I endure it and try to finish it for review purposes. Can I post a review of a book I DNF, or should I just not review it at all?


Marianne Robles

Hi Marianne!

I’m going to introduce you to one of my “rules”:

Rule #1 of Book Blogging: Don’t torture yourself!

Forcing yourself to finish a book you’re really not liking is a form of torture. It’s cruel and unusual punishment. So now that we’ve established that you should not force yourself to finish it, let’s move onto the next question.

Should you review books you don’t finish?

This is totally and completely and 100% up to you. Every blogger has a different opinion or policy. Here’s how I approach it:

Always inform the publisher

The publisher gave you the book, so the least you can do is let them know that you tried to read it but couldn’t finish. Even if it’s not a proper “review”, you should submit “feedback” and let them know what didn’t work for you or why you couldn’t finish.

I always post my thoughts on Goodreads

Again, it doesn’t have to be a real “review” but I always post a few sentences or paragraphs in my Goodreads review explaining why I didn’t finish. I just highlight what didn’t work for me in the book. I also add the book to my “dnf” shelf.

If I feel like I have enough to say, I also post the review on my blog

Note: This is just my own policy/opinion for my own blog. Other bloggers have different ways of doing things that totally work! Feel free to make up your own mind for your own blog.

Sometimes when I DNF a book, I don’t have much to say about it other than, “It was boring.” If I can’t conjure up more than a paragraph, then I won’t review it on my blog. I like my reviews to have substance and actually help people decide for themselves if they’ll like a book or not. I don’t feel that a few sentences saying, “It was boring” is enough to merit a post. But, if I feel like I have enough to say about a book to really write a review that will help people, then I will post it on my blog.

Here are two examples of my DNF reviews:

  • Orleans by Sherri L. Smith – This review is actually quite long. I had a lot to say and quotes to support my thoughts.
  • Starglass by Phoebe North – This review isn’t quite as long, but I knew that it was worth posting because my review could really help people. Starglass has an unexpected religion element and I felt like if I pointed that out in my review that would help people decide whether the book was for them or not (because I know a lot of people either really love or really hate reading about religion).

Do you review books that you don’t finish?

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  1. If I’ve read even a few chapters of a book, I’ll review it, because there’s obviously a reason you didn’t finish that book. Maybe the reason IS as simple as “It was boring,” but as an aspiring author, I think I’d like to know WHY someone never bothered to finish a book I’ve written. And also, as a book reviewer, and review reader, I’d like to know what elements of a DNFed book triggered that reaction. Maybe something turned that particular reviewer off, but I myself personally don’t mind it. Or something like that. You never know. :]

  2. If I purchase a book, get it as a freebie from Amazon, or check it out from the library and find that I just don’t want to continue it for whatever reason, then I don’t finish it. If I write about it on my blog, I do not give it a rating, but I also take the time to explain why I didn’t like the book, but if possible, indicate that other readers may enjoy the book if their expectations differ from mine. I don’t feel guilty about not finishing a book because there are too many other books waiting for my attention. However, I don’t think it’s fair to rate a book if I haven’t taken the time to finish it.

    If I receive a personal request by an author, and I don’t finish the book, I will email and explain why. This rarely happens and if it does, it’s most likely because I’m confused about the plot and unable to follow the storyline. Most of the time, however, if an author asks me to review a book, I will finish it, even if I’m gritting my teeth all the way through it. Then I send the author an email with my feedback, and give him or her the choice as to whether I post it on my blog or anywhere else.

  3. Yeah, I usually never write DNF reviews because I’ll either give up really early or end up making my way to the end somehow >.< Sometimes I do post a few sentences though on Goodreads just to clarify what went wrong for me, especially if it was a highly anticipated book that I just found completely impossible.

    Fantastic advice, Ashley! πŸ™‚ <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: A Little Update
  4. Great post! I don’t review DNF on my blog because I’m one of those people that may hate something in the beginning like a tv show and end up being its biggest fangirl so I like to know the full story before I review so I can look at it from every angle and I know in writing a blog review I would probably feel compelled to go back and read to ensure my points were backed up. Hope that ramble made sense! I DO however write a few quick points down on Goodreads/Netgalley explaining why I DNF’d but I prefer to only post full reviews on my blog. Yeah I’m weird. I enjoy reading DNF reviews on other people’s blogs tho lol!

  5. I don’t have a problem with people writing about books that they did not finish. But I dislike it when they give it a rating. It can be helpful to explain why they could not finish (the reasons). But I feel like it’s unfair to give it a really low rating when the book could have improved.

  6. Great advice! I wouldn’t actually count a post writing about the reasons why you didn’t finish a book as a “review,” since it’s not actually a review of the book but rather of why it didn’t work out for you. But I think it’s a good idea to do that, though I’ve never thought of doing it before. And as for informing the publisher — yikes! I’m guilty of DNFing a book and not informing a publisher, but it’s been a month now (I kept forgetting to inform them!), so I’m not even sure if I should, or if they care!

    But to answer your question: nope, I don’t review books I didn’t finish, because I don’t think it’s right to pass judgement on a book I read only a part of. For all I know, the book could’ve improved by a lot later; I just didn’t have the patience to continue reading.

  7. Great post, Ashley, and I agree! I hate to see readers suffering through books they hate just because they can’t bring themselves to DNF a book.

    I don’t DNF often (mostly because I’m choosy about the books I read, and try to pick ones I know/think I’ll like), but like you, I will also post my thoughts about it on Goodreads. I’ve never written a DNF review, but I can see where sometimes it works — and I do like reading them.

    Kelley (Another Novel Read) recently posted: Authors and ARCs and Signings
  8. I think you should definitely let the publisher know, and thank them for the book. Personally, if I read at least 1/3 of the book and I have enough reasons for DNF’ing that I think they merit a short “review,” I DO post a DNF review. I’ll try to include quotes and specific examples to back up why I couldn’t finish the book and I also try to find at least one good thing about it so my readers know I’m not just bashing a book.

    But agreed, DNF’ing and reviewing/not reviewing is a personal choice.

  9. #1 rule of blogging, I agree!
    So many of my DNF don’t even make the 10% mark so I never bother with a review for those. For the ones that make it past the 30% mark, I usually do write a review and I end up having more to say than my normal reviews because I had so many issues with the book. Great post. I wish more bloggers knew it was okay to not finish all books.

    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted: Review: All Of You by Christina Lee!
  10. If I DNF a book, I follow your steps exactly – I always have, even before I was reading ARCs. IF I torture myself enough to finish it, I will post a review since I actually read the whole thing and will have enough of an opinion. DNF’s don’t get reviews on my blog – just a little “not for me because…” on GoodReads and to the publisher.

    Bree recently posted: What’s Next? September 12
  11. Great advice. I rarely DNF a book, just because I try really hard to not pick books I don’t feel confident I will at least sort of like. But I’ve recently decided that as I get a group of 3-5 books that I don’t finish, I will combine them in a blog post. But I do always say why I didn’t finish on goodreads/shelfari so that others know and can use my reasons to make an informed decision about picking up the book.

    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted: Audio Review | Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men
  12. My own personal policy is to not review books I didn’t read. If I received it from the publisher, especially via NetGalley, I still try to write a few sentences about why I didn’t post a full review/couldn’t get through it and I feel like that’s good enough. I don’t DNF books that often but when I come across one that I really don’t like, I won’t hesitate to put it down, even though sometimes I feel bad.

    Stephanie @ The Novlist recently posted: 100 Follower Giveaway!
  13. I do agree that readers should not punish themselves. Nothing is wrong with a DNF review. For me though, I never find finishing troublesome books as torture for myself. Call me sadistic, but I enjoy reading them. It helps me to develop my reading taste even more, and provide more reasons for critical justification in my rating (having read the whole book). I really do not get why people are scared to DNF though – unless they have that quirk that I do. Hopefully this post encourages people to rethink it.

    Christine @ Oh, Chrys! recently posted: Blogger Interaction: Daunting or Effortless?
  14. I vary rarely DNF a book because I hope that there will be something that I will like – naive I know. I really wish Goodreads gave an extra button though alongside the stars so that people could rate it as DNF with maybe a slider or something to show completion rate. I don’t think it is necessarily fair to assign a star value if you haven’t read the whole thing but a paragraph explaining why you didn’t like it is going to be really helpful for others. I often scroll down through Goodreads posts to the low ratings or ones with DNF shelves just to see why people had problems before I read the top ratings. If I have no issues with the things that irked them, I’ll still buy the book.

    Vilia recently posted: Sunday Post #1
  15. I rarely ever DNF books, but I see no problem with people who review them. The most important thing is that you mention this is a review of a book you didn’t finish. Loud and clear. Also, mentioning how far you got into the book helps the reader decide whether your review is helpful or not. Besides, DNFing a book is somewhat of a rating in itself, don’t you think? If you DNF a book, you might as well explain why you did it. Whether it’s a “review” or not, that’s up to you.

    Reem @ I Read And Tell recently posted: Alternate & Terrible Ending To: Harry Potter
  16. I have pretty much the same policy as you do! (Speaking of policy, I’m thinking about adding this to my Review Policy page)
    If I’m not liking a book, I don’t even bother to finish anymore. There’s way too many other books I want/have to read to force myself through anything.
    If I have enough complaint content, I write a DNF review. If I only have a paragraph or less, I put them in my ‘Books I Didn’t Finish’ post for the month. I always send my thoughts to the pub and put them on Goodreads.

    Great post, Ashley!

    Jessi @ Auntie Spinelli Reads recently posted: Kinslayer Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway
  17. Great post. I myself do not review books that I don’t finish but like you said it’s different for everyone. You have to do what feels right to you. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Also never torture yourself trying to read a book. I don’t have any 1 or 2 rating reviews on my blog because if I’m not enjoying myself then I move onto the next book.

    But you bring up some great points. I don’t do many submissions but I do think it’s a good idea to contact the author and let them know you didn’t like it and why. That’s a great idea about having something in your policy. I think I’m going to change my submissions policy to reflect this.

    Jamie Pinson recently posted: Trouble (The Rebel Series #3) – Elle Casey
  18. I just agreed to review a movie, on the condition that if I don’t like it I will simply not review at all. But now I’m kicking myself, because if I hate it, and it’s more than a “this was boring, don’t waste your time”, then I’ve agreed not to tell my readers “hey, this is a horrible movie you should avoid at all costs and warn your friends about!” either. So…generally, I tell sponsors that I will be happy to take a look inside of a 3-4 month window, and if I feel that I have something to say, I’ll write a post, and if I don’t, I’ll let them know why so they still get feedback. I only have a couple of book sources where I have to write a review no matter what, and I’m using them less and less. Another of your posts talked about how we’re individuals, and should write as such. I agree, and this is one way I’ve been bucking the norm, but it’s working for me. I have a 3 year old, so reading time is precious and rare – so I’ve aligned my policies in such a way that while I only take books I really think I’m going to like, I’m not trapped into coverage if I end up not liking it, or can’t meet a short turn around.

  19. As someone who has just started at NetGalley, this has saved my life. Thank you for articulating your thoughts so well!

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