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Mini DNF Reviews: The Priory of the Orange Tree, Resistance Reborn, The Infinite Noise, Queen of the Conquered

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Sometimes, it’s just not to be. Sometimes, no matter how much I want to love a book, there comes a point where I can’t force myself to read another page. Not necessarily because it’s a bad book – in this batch, there’s even two I’d give 4/5 for execution – but it happens. I often write shorter reviews of books I DNF’d just so that there’s some note on them on goodreads, but they are too short to be a blogpost on their own, and I haven’t had enough to group them together until now.

Besides, backlog cleaning is never a bad thing.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

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DNF 74%. This is a review back from January I forgot to publish.

Initially, I thought I was going to love it. Classic political epic fantasy, chock-full of worldbuilding that felt both familiar and fresh, loads of female characters, and some pretty writing. And then I slowly, painfully ran out of steam. The last time I picked it up, getting through one short chapter was too much, so I quit. Even though I was not far from the end.

Most of it was the format: I went to some lengths to get the trade paperback. And in the end, while very pretty, it’s too big and stiff to really function as a book. There was no comfortable position to read in, and I couldn’t carry it around like a smaller paperback or my kindle. Format seems like such a minor thing, but here it was killer. It stretched a book that would normally take me a week or two into a nearly year-long ordeal. And with time, my ability to give a shit decreased drastically.

Then you have everything else. The pacing is downright bizarre at points. I get that you’d want to avoid long travelling sections to make a long book even longer, but the large, abrupt timeskips (a mistake I otherwise usually only saw in debut self-pub books) did not do it any favours. It might have functioned better as a duology or a trilogy, which would give the characters some space to breathe and develop. The number of POVs is far from extreme, but I still felt that I’d like some more space to get to know them.

All in all, a shame.

Might finish or write a longer review eventually, might not.

Enjoyment: 4/5 dipping down to 2/5
Execution: 3/5

Tags that apply: fantasy, female author, just plain fun, DNF, slow pacing, standalone, epic fantasy, mental health, LGBTQ+, politics, religion

Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse (Star Wars)

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DNF 52%

Really wanted to like it, but sadly, I just can’t bring myself to care. There’s nothing horribly wrong with it and it didn’t commit any major writing sins – it’s well-written and reads smoothly – but the plot felt thin and the characters didn’t really draw me in and felt somewhat inconsistent with the movies. Perhaps it’s my general disinterest for tie-in stories following the main cast. Perhaps it’s that I’m not a huge fan of essentially fetch quest plots but with people. Perhaps it’s that RoS soured me on this timeline (I mean…).

Either way, after a couple weeks of not making any progress and not wanting to pick it up, I’m deciding to call it quits. Not saying there’s no chance I’ll return to it, but I can’t keep it marked as “Currently Reading” forever and I can’t see myself coming back anytime soon.

Enjoyment: 4/5 dipping down to 2/5
Execution: 4/5

Tags that apply: fantasy, sci-fi, science fantasy, female author, Star Wars, just plain fun, DNF, slow pacing, standalone

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen (The Bright Sessions #1)



DNF 56%

This is a good book. Hell, it’s a downright great book. The way it discusses mental health is wonderful (colours for emotions!) and the concept – a slowly developing relationship between a boy who’s an Atypical with empath abilities and a boy with depression – is great.

Yet I simply couldn’t get into it. This is very much a high school story and I’m not the target audience. I don’t quite know why I have such an aversion to high schools in particular (perhaps because my own experience wasn’t too great?), yet it’s undeniably there. The dialogue bothered me too and I think it’s precisely because the author tried to make it realistic – but there’s a reason why most writers don’t use many ums and yeahs and likes and ellipses. It’s not necessarily a bad stylistic choice. But I did find it oddly hard to read.

If this was an ARC I would have finished it, because it’s really not terrible. But it was a loan and there are so many other library books to try while I still can.

So, sorry book. It’s not you, it’s me.

Enjoyment: DNF
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: those looking for stories tackling mental health or slow burn LGBTQ+ romance
Not recommended to: those who don’t like high school stories or hyperrealistic dialogue

Tags that apply: female author, fantasy, LGBTQ+, mental health, school setting, DNF, slow pacing, standalone, contemporary, slice of life (by the point I read, anyway), YA, uplifting, romance

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender (Islands of Blood and Storm #1)



DNF 30%

I was excited to read a fantasy book that touches on colonialism and slavery, but it just didn’t work out in the end. I found it interesting enough on an intellectual level, the commentary on racism was excellent…but the plot failed to grab me. I didn’t care. I understood very quickly that Sigourney is meant to be an intentionally unsympathetic villain protagonist, but currently, I need emotional attachment if I want to read on and here I had none. Her constant complaining about how nobody likes her, then proceeding to be a villain and justifying it to herself, over and over and over and over were realistic I guess, but so incredibly tedious to read. I had little desire to read on, and in a time when I can barely read as it is, that’s…kind of important, no matter how good and relevant the themes of a book. Hence the DNF.

Enjoyment: 2/5
Execution: legit can’t say

Recommended to: those interested in villain protagonists and books that tackle slavery and colonialism

Tags that apply: non-binary author, fantasy, politics, slow pacing, non-western, colonialism

2 thoughts on “Mini DNF Reviews: The Priory of the Orange Tree, Resistance Reborn, The Infinite Noise, Queen of the Conquered”

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