Hello all and welcome to a belated edition of Reasons I DNF This Book. This was meant to go up last Tuesday, but as I live in Texas and Texas has been a frozen hellscape for the last calendar week, well… you get the idea.
Before we get started, as always:
This week’s DNF: Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade; DNF at a whopping 8%
Now, I try to be fair to the books I DNF. A lot of the times, the books themes or genre just isn’t to my taste, as I’ve mentioned. With my most recent DNF, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, I simply ran out of time to read something so dense.
With Fate of the Fallen, the writing is just… bad.
Caveats: “bad” is subjective, of course, and I’m notoriously picky.
Let’s start, appropriately, with the prologue. It’s a one page long flash forward. I should have immediately known to stop there, but there was some potential trope-subversion going on that made me read on. Friends, I didn’t make it out of the second chapter.
In my review of From Blood and Ash I noted that there were way too many words in the book. There are an appropriate amount of words in Fate of the Fallen but only like the same half dozen. By the end of the first three pages I was sick of the word “forester,” and if Mathias, our plucky would-be hero, “grinned” one more time I was going to punch myself in the face. And I know it’s tricky to navigate a scene that features more than one character of the same pronouns, but, like, it’s your job as a writer to figure that out. You can’t just use their names ad nauseam. And no two people use their conversational partner’s name out loud that much. No one. Ever.
Mathias, as we are reminded every other paragraph, is beholden to his grandmother who raised him and with whom he still lives. She controls pretty much everything he does, from what he studies, to who he spends time with, etc. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that our friend Mathias is not a newly come of age lad who will spend the story learning to become a man free from his Grams’ shadow, but TWENTY-SIX (26) years old. 26 years old and never has left his little forest village because his grandmother wouldn’t let him. It truly beggars belief. Not one act of rebellion. Not one extracurricular trip beyond the sanctioned village/forest. Not one QUESTION AS TO WHY THIS IS UNTIL BOOM PROPHECY GO TIME.
I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s come to the point, shall we? The inciting incident, as it were. Grams reveals that she and Mathias have to leave the village IMMEDIATELY, abandoning their home and Mathias’s bestest friend (“brothers in all things”) because Mathias, and this is shocking I know, has a destiny. Grams is actually a sorceress and… you know what? I don’t know what Mathias is actually supposed to do because despite Mathias, knowing he was going to have to leave the village (though not the why) and not telling his best friend (“BROTHERS IN ALL THINGS”), and that his whole life has been shaped and guided by his grandmother because he is part of this ancient and world-shaking prophecy, grins.
If it were a physical book and not my kindle, I would have thrown it. Seriously. I have never hated a character more than in that moment.
When I’m thinking about DNF, I tend to give myself a break from the book first. I like to sleep on it. Spend some time doing something else, to see if my curiosity for the story comes back. Well, after a solid week and a half, and a second pass of the pages, I’m more convinced than ever that this book is just straight… bad.
I’m honestly not trying to alternate between books I finish and books DNF, it’s just happening to work out this way. I had such high hopes for this one too, especially after I found out that Mathias actually dies really early on and Aaslo takes up his quest? I mean, admit it, you think that idea is rad. Sadly, the execution does not live up to the premise.
And with that I’m moving on to The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart. Looking forward to reviewing it for you in the coming weeks.
Until then may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!