Reasons I DNF This Book: Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Hello and welcome to 2021’s first edition of Reasons I DNF This Book. I’m a little bit disappointed in myself to be writing this one, because I feel like I really did want to finish this book, but… well. I just don’t have the time or energy right now.

Today’s DNF: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James; DNF at 13%

Before we get into it, as always:

Spoiler alert
Spoiler alert!

Although, honestly, I don’t think I got far enough or even understood enough of what I was reading to spoil much. But anyway.

As I mentioned, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish this book. I really wanted to. But it’s just so… dense. And I’m just… not smart enough to sit down and read chunks of it at a time. The prose is unconventional and it took more mental energy than I’m used to giving to get a sense of what was going on.

And it’s pretty dark. If I’m being totally honest, I don’t really think it’s my flavor of book. For the first two weeks I tried to muscle through, I was convinced that any day now I would DNF it for stylistic/content reasons. But I kept coming back to it anyway. Even though I could only read three or five pages at a time, I still wanted to know what the story really was before I gave up on it. I don’t think I ever got there, but that’s not from a lack of interest… it’s just a lack of time.

I gave myself a schedule to read and review books this year and even though that’s a lame reason not to finish a book, I’m sticking to that schedule. I would definitely like to come back and give this novel another shot when I have more energy for it, though. Because despite the gritty…ness of it and the narrative being kind of work to get through, I’m not totally turned off by it.

It does feel a little gratuitously adult though, I’m not gonna lie. But we’ll see what the future holds.


So turns out there weren’t any spoilers after all.

But I mean honestly. I’m 78 pages in and I still couldn’t tell you what the story is. I couldn’t tell you the narrator’s name. And like… that’s fine, but reading this book sort of reminded me of when I read the unabridged version of Les Miserables in high school. I was a fan of the musical and was interested in the source material, but at some point finishing it became solely about the clout (because my god, the unabridged version of that book). And I just don’t need to do that anymore.

Anyway, kind of a lame review this week, but it is what it is. I’ll be back on Thursday for your regularly scheduled blog post, and then again on Sunday for the first Short But Sweet vignette of the new year. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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3 thoughts on “Reasons I DNF This Book: Black Leopard, Red Wolf

      1. Yes. And just like you said in your review: The story was unnecessarily confusing and difficult to follow. The author relied entirely too much on weirdness to maintain readers’ interest than he did on anything else.

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