2 Did Not Finish Reviews (BOOK REVIEWS) || Two misses and that’s that

Unfortunately not every book can be a hit! And that’s ok because that’s how it is! Please note, just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you can’t like it – everyone has different reading tastes and that’s also ok!

Disclaimer: I received both arcs from the publishers and Netgalley in exchange for free and honest reviews. The summary and book details are taken from Goodreads and the content/trigger warnings are taken from The Storygraph (if possible). The featured image is my own. Any opinions expressed are my own.

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Title: Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe
Author: Lindsay S. Zrull
Number of Pages: 352
Year Published: 2022
Publisher: Flux (Young Adult Imprint of North Star Editions, Inc.)
Cover Art/Designer: Jordan Kincaid
Genre: Young Adult ~ Contemporary ~ Mental Health
Stars: DNF at 44
Links: Goodreads || The Storygraph
Copy: E-arc
CW/TW: (Taken from The Storygraph) Graphic: Mental illness, Schizophrenia/Psychosis , Panic attacks/disorders. Moderate:
Abandonment, Fatphobia, Body shaming. Minor: Bullying, Child abuse

Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because, you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to her Insta fans—until a woman claiming to be her biological mother barges into her DMs.

Jess was claimed by the state when her bio mom’s mental illness made her unstable. While their relationship is far from traditional, blood ties are hard to break. There’s only one problem: Jess can’t reunite with her mom in New York City without a bunch of paperwork and she worries her social worker will never approve the trip. That’s when she remembers Oscar’s cosplay group, which is aiming for that big convention in New York . . .

So, Jess joins Oscar’s team—with every intention of using them to get to her mom. But her plan gets complicated when she discovers that, actually, cosplay is pretty great, and so is having friends. And Oscar, who Jess thought was just a shy nerd, can be as gallant and charming as the heroes he pretends to be. As the big convention draws near, Jess will have to decide whether or not chasing a dream of “family” is worth risking the family she’s built for herself.

I really wanted to like this one. I pushed nearly to 50 percent – which is quite far as usually I know by 10 or 20% if it’s a book for me – but I kept trying to make it work for me. It had a cute cover, it looked like it was about something important and apparently it did find its audience – which is great! I’m glad that it was able to mean something for someone – just not for me.

It read like a book I could easily find in back in 2010s. We’re nearing the end of 2022 (still cant believe that) and reading this really felt like I was a teen again reading cringey reads. By cringey I mean unnecessary stereotyping of various characters just because they’re a cheerleader? A pretty girl must be one that has no ‘real’ thoughts and so on – I was very unimpressed and that was a big reason for me not wanting to read anymore.

I also didn’t like the style of writing – it contributed to my dislike of the book and also made it feel like a book stuck in the 2010s. It’s not that I didn’t like Jess, I I just didn’t think much of her because of how she saw everyone else. And okay, sure, I understand how that’s not her fault, her circumstances are much different and all that – but even that didn’t help my feelings towards her/the book.

Title: Burn Down, Rise Up
Author: Vincent Tirado
Number of Pages: 352
Year Published: 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Cover Art/Designer: Nicole Hower (Jacket Design), Charles Chaisson (Jacket and case art), Danielle McNaughton (Internal Design)
Genre: Young Adult ~ Horror ~ Thriller ~ Mystery ~ LGBT+ characters
Stars: DNF at 52%
Links: Goodreads || The Storygraph
Copy: E-arc
CW/TW: (Taken from The Storygraph) Graphic:  Gore, Violence, Body horror. Moderate: Fire/Fire injury, Death, Cannibalism. Minor: Police brutality, Racism, Vomit 

Mysterious disappearances. An urban legend rumored to be responsible. And one group of friends determined to save their city at any cost. Stranger Things meets Jordan Peele in this utterly original debut from an incredible new voice.

For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.

Apparently this is meant to be a fast-paced book – I definitely did not get that vibe. As with Goth Girl, I really tried to push myself to read and like this book, and I eventually decided this was not worth it. I really liked that it was diverse and I enjoyed seeing the Bronx rather than New York or another standard American setting – especially when they added a bit of history – that I did enjoy. That was sort of all that I enjoyed about the book.

The book didn’t scare me – I love horror movies so when I read a horror book I want that same feeling. I unfortunately didn’t feel the same way, which might’ve been another reason for my dnf – that I couldn’t get into the book because the horror wasn’t enough for me.

Even though I got to nearly 60% I still felt like I didn’t know anything about the characters, and yet I had been given a lot of information about them. I think the writing was fine enough, I just couldn’t find anything about… anything to really dig into the story and enjoy. Much like Goth Girl, this will find their audience and others will enjoy it.

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As I said not every book will be a hit! Of course it did find fans – which is great! But as I said, just not for me. Which is all well and done, I suppose. Have you had any dnf’s recently? What were the reason? Do you particularly like writing reviews for them? I only like it if I really didn’t like the book or if there were a lot of issues with the book; otherwise it’s difficult to write “I didn’t like it” over and over again.

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