DNF Review – The Mountain’s Shadow by Cecilia Dominic

cover_the_mountains_shadow

Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: Out Now (Oct 1st)
How I got this book: eARC from publisher

Some mistakes can literally come back to bite you.

First it was ADD. Then pediatric bipolar. Now the hot behavioral disorder in children is CLS, or Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. Public health researcher Joanie Fisher was closing in on the cause in hopes of finding a treatment until a lab fire and an affair with her boss left her without a job.

When her grandfather leaves her his multimillion-dollar estate in the Ozarks, though, she figures her luck is turning around. Except her inheritance comes with complications: town children who disappear during full moons, an irresistible butler, and a pack of werewolves who can’t seem to decide whether to frighten her or flirt with her.

Joanie’s research is the key to unraveling the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor. However, resuming her work means facing painful truths about her childhood, which could result in the loss of love, friendship, and the only true family she has left.

Warning: Some sexy scenes, although nothing explicit, and adult language. Also alcohol consumption and food descriptions that may wreck your diet.

*blurb from Goodreads

        Recently, MinnChica posted an op-ed piece on To finish or not to finish, that is the question. I, too, have wrestled with this issue and frankly, I have come close to quitting book reviewing altogether more than a few times because of slogging through a pile of books I wouldn’t normally read in my personal life. I’m a slow reader. It generally takes me fourteen to sixteen hours of free time to read a typical paperback. Longer if I’m savoring the prose and sometimes even longer if I’m stomping my feet out of irritation when I feel like I have to complete an unpleasant review book assignment.

        It used to be that I would DNF a book only if I found something truly offensive about it — we all have issues and themes that we don’t tolerate in our fiction. But what about the ones that just irritate me? aren’t engaging? are boring? have unlikeable characters? stupid plots? use a writing style that doesn’t appeal to me or are poorly written? Am I really obligated to keep trudging along? And then what happens when I finally, reluctantly, cross the finish line? Yup. I need to spend a few more hours writing a review about something I didn’t enjoy in the first place. I don’t mean to whine about being a reviewer because let’s face it there are some good perks that come with being a book reviewer. And one could argue that I should take the good with the bad and suck it up. But then I remember that this is something I do “for fun” in my “free time” and book slogging gets old real quick.

        Therefore, I have decided to take MinnChica’s lead one step further and declare myself free of the Review Book Guilt Slog. Life’s too short. There are too many good books out there to waste my time on ones that irritate me. And damn it all, I’m just tired of forcing myself to read something out of some warped sense of obligation (i.e., I requested it therefore I must review it), meanwhile having to turn down other potentially good books because I’m overloaded. On the other hand, I do have a review schedule to maintain and am responsible for contributing my share of content. So, expect to see more DNF review posts from me in future.

        Starting with this one.

        I’m still working on a DNF review format or template. I want to communicate why I DNF’d a book, but I don’t want to spend several hours trying to write about it, either. The other end of “suck it up” is “move on” and that’s what I really want to do: move on to the next book asap.


What caused me to DNF this book:

  • Lack of cohesion in the main plot.
  • Ridiculous leap from CLS in children to werewolves actually existing.
    • The whole CLS thing (Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome) is so very oddly introduced. The use of the word “lycanthropy” created a bit of confusion for me. I initially expected it to be identified with werewolves because of how that word has been used in the genre. But no, it is first presented as simply a genetic disorder affecting impulsivity in children–not having anything to do with werewolves, mind you. So, why use the word “lycanthropy” in the first place? Then, suddenly she has an encounter with werewolves and now CLS becomes a virus (without any transition provided) that can affect adults and turn them into actual werewolves. And oh, hey, werewolves actually exist and CLS causes it. Our female protagonist is supposed to be a lead researcher on CLS. I expect some science to back up this shift in how CLS is viewed. And I at least expect her to blink when she realizes werewolves exist.
  • Generally unlikeable characters…except for one tertiary character who ends up dead, I didn’t like anyone in this story…well, I guess the butler might have been okay.
  • Female characters all portrayed as jealous adversaries, even supposed BFFs. Judgmental comparisons based on physical appearance.
  • Lack of empathy on female protagonist’s part towards her supposed BFF. What’s with all the slut-shaming? It saturated the narrative. Grr!
  • TSTL female characters who, apparently, all pine after and have affairs with married men…and then have the nerve to be angry at the men’s wives.
  • The male romantic lead uses violence against the female protagonist when they first meet, and actually injures her. She still finds him attractive.
    • Granted, this incidence gets blamed on CLS as if “he couldn’t help himself,” but I get so tired of female characters falling for guys who use violence against them. What kind of message is that sending? A dangerous one, in my opinion.
  • An antagonistic sheriff who is an asshat for no apparent reason other than he’s an asshat. He’s more caricature than character.

How far did I get before the urge to chuck my eReader against the wall became too overwhelming:
page 150 of 267 (56%)

Was there anything that didn’t suck about this book?
The actual writing mechanics weren’t that bad. It did have a certain readability and active narrative. The story and worldbuilding had potential intrigue. It’s possible the story improved with time. I guess that’s the risk of DNFing a book — I’ll never know. I think I’m ok with that.

Had I managed to finish reading this book, what rating would I have been most likely to give it?:
To be fair, had I finished reading this book, I probably would have given it a rating of C-/D+. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for someone else. Books are subjective like that :-)

Updated on 10/9/13 to add:
I just caught the review for this book over at Smexy’s…looks like I didn’t miss much by DNFing this one. Perhaps I was a bit over-generous in thinking I might have given it a C-/D+ had I been able to read the whole thing.

Comments

  1. says

    Great post MiscJoy. I do have the same problem, not wanting to spend time reviewing a book I really did not like. It only makes it that much harder to write something.
    Reviewing books takes a lot of my free time as well, and I am also questioning myself about keep doing it, or go back to be just a reader. But I do enjoy the interaction with authors and book bloggers too much to quit just yet. Still, I don’t do many review requests, I choose my own books mostly, which cuts back on disappointment a lot.

    ReplyReply
  2. miscjoy says

    @xaurianx: I’ve enjoyed interacting with the people I’ve met as a reviewer, as well. We get so many review requests that it makes it near impossible for me to get to books from my personal TBR list. I’m thinking I might need to flip that around just a bit. On the other hand, by accepting review requests, I’ve found some new-to-me authors that I might never have read otherwise. I’m relatively new, only having been with The Book Pushers for a little over a year. I feel like I’m still trying to find what works for me as both a reviewer and a reader. It is surprisingly difficult to balance.

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