DNF: Is it right to leave a review?

So, you’re reading a book, and by some chance, you DNF (do not finish, for those not in the self-publishing world). What do you do?

Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more of these reviews popping up on Amazon and Goodreads, but a question has plagued me. Is it right to leave a review when you do not finish a book? Let’s explore this.

Consider the following scenario: You’re reading a novel, get about halfway through, and realize the story just isn’t to your taste. There is nothing wrong with the editing or format, but something just doesn’t resonate with you. Do you leave a review?
My thoughts: No, you do not leave a review. It’s not the author’s fault you couldn’t get into the book. Leaving a low rating review will drag down their ranking on Amazon for something that is essentially a personal taste issue.
What would you do?

What about this: You’re reading a book that is quite poorly edited. There is no structure, no storyline, and nothing really of merit at all in the book. Do you leave a review?
My thoughts: Possibly. There is also the option of contacting Amazon to report the book. To me, this is the best thing to do as they can review it and contact the author directly. You might chance contacting the author yourself and constructively explaining what you felt could be improved. Maybe the author didn’t have a lot of support?

Finally: What if you don’t like the author as a person? Do you leave a review with personal attacks?
My thoughts: Obviously, a BIG RESOUNDING NO! No matter what, keep your reviews objective. You are there to critique the work of an author, not pick battles.

Overall, if you don’t finish a book, you have options. Leaving a review saying you didn’t finish and here’s why, isn’t really the best of choices.

I would love to hear some other views in the comments section! What do you do? Do you feel it’s right to leave a review if you don’t finish a book? Why or why not?

Happy reading!

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11 thoughts on “DNF: Is it right to leave a review?

  1. I absolutely do not think it is fair to leave a review for a book that was a DNF, no matter what the reasons were. I vary rarely have a DNF, but I would never dream of reviewing it. I won’t even review if a book is just not my style (if it would be a negative review – if I loved it anyway, I will point out that it is not normally my genre/style/whatever, but I still found it outstanding as I feel that can strengthen a review.)

    Another pet peeve I have seen this week….picking a book up well into a series, being well aware it is part of a series, then giving it a negative review because you haven’t read the rest of the series. Now if you were asked to beta read to see if it stands on it is own, then of course you let the author know that you do not feel that it does, but in that case I feel that you do not review. Your most valuable input has already been given.

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  2. I’ve read 4 books I couldnt finish. 2 I left reviews for, 2 I didnt. I feel other readers have a right to know how bad a book is. Especially with groups out there that eillomly give 5 stars for all their members books. Just not fair to the buying customer. And most readers arent aware they can contact Amazon. Why should they? Thats not their respomsibility to police authors or Amazon.

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  3. I think leaving a review with why you couldn’t finish the book is great on a platform like Goodreads where you can leave the review without a star rating, that way the author knows why you couldn’t finish it, but it doesn’t make their rating go down. But I don’t like the idea of rating a book you didn’t finish – I don’t. In fact, I refuse to give up, so instead I put it on a “later” shelf and maybe, someday, I’ll try to read it again.

    If I felt there were mechanical issues that effected my star rating, then I’d definitely mention that. If I could see passed them and still give a great rating, then I might say something like that in the review, ie. “I loved the book, but there were a few formatting/spelling issues the author might want to check out, was a little distracting, but not distracting enough to make me not like the story.” Personally, as a writer, I would want someone to point those things out to me so I can improve and hopefully not make the same mistakes in the future. People had a couple issues with my first book, and I begged them to tell me what they were because if they were things I could change, either now or in a future edition, then I want to know about it. And if they weren’t things I could change in that book, then maybe they were things I could consider in future books. But we, writers, might now know if people don’t tell us.

    And as for using reviews as a way to personally attack an author you don’t like – get a life! I understand that reviews are pretty much 100% opinion-based – and I say “pretty much” because when a reviewer mentions something about the mechanics (spelling, grammar, etc.) then it’s more fact – but using the review feature on any website as a platform to voice your opinion on anything other than the story just isn’t right. That’s not what it’s meant for. At least that’s my opinion. 🙂

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  4. Dnf s are hard to talk about. I think if it’s a dnf because of just plain incompetence on the author’s part, review it! Because reviews help readers and while the author also might get helped by them, if it’s one of those books that makes Indies look bad, I encourage reviewers to leave their honest comments. It’s like any other product, if it’s no good, save others from wasting money.

    Whereas authors whose works you don’t like, but are just fine overall, review it and state you reasons. Every review, good or bad, can be helpful.

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  5. No I won’t leave a review if I didn’t finish regardless of the reason. I also won’t leave a bad review, I just won’t review it. I have contacted authors but most do not respond. Never tried to contact Amazon directly though.

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  6. Interesting topic and great discussion. I’m one of the weird people. I don’t leave books unread. It may take me a long time, but I will finish. I need to give the story—and the writer—a chance to connect with me, by then the book is finished .

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