DNF Mini Reviews: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and Second Lives by P.D. Caek

(Last Updated On: June 19, 2019)

If you’ve been around Reader Voracious for awhile you will know that I typically leave my DNF reviews to Goodreads because they are not usually long enough to warrant a full post on their own. But as a reader I value negative reviews just as much as positive ones in determining what books to pick up, so I thought I’d include the occasional mini review post to round up my thoughts.

Please remember that these reviews are based on my own personal reading experience! No two readers read the same book: just because a book wasn’t for me doesn’t mean that you will not enjoy it. I’ve actually picked up and enjoyed books that received negative reviews because we all have different reading tastes.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Young Adult, Fantasy

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo cover

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

DNF on page 73 😭

“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”

It pains me to say that Six of Crows didn’t work for me, friends. It took me about three hours to read 70 pages because I kept zoning out and staring into space. While this is a plot that I am sure I would love and Bardugo can write a good action sequence, unfortunately, I found the writing style the rest of the time to be boring and dense with information.

Sam & I actually tried buddy reading this book almost 2 months ago and began losing interest at the same time then (that time we only got to page 17). At the time I thought it was just fantasy burnout so I moved it to my not now shelf, but unfortunately we didn’t fare any better the second time.

While I enjoyed the witter banter between the Dregs, I found myself on information overload once the perspective shifted after the first chapter. I kept forcing myself to read thinking that it would get better, but I have come to terms with the fact that the writing style of this book is not for me.

🤝 Buddy read & DNF experience with the fabulous Sam!

Second Lives
by P.D. Cacek
Adult, Science Fiction

Second Lives by P.D. CacekWhen four patients unexpectedly wake after being declared dead, their families are ecstatic and the word “miracle” begins to be whispered throughout the hospital. But the jubilation is short lived when the patients don’t respond to their names and insist they are different people. It is suggested all four are suffering from fugue states until one of the doctors recognizes a name and verifies that he not only knew the girl but was there when she died in 1992. It soon becomes obvious that the bodies of the four patients are now inhabited by the souls of people long dead.

DNF @ 18%

I really wanted to like this book, but the narrative style just isn’t for me. There were too many perspectives, people, and timelines for me to keep track of and it wasn’t an enjoyable reading experience for me. I think this will be an amazing story, but it’s been almost two months since I set it aside and I still don’t have the desire to return to it. Perhaps I will try again down the road, and when I do I will be sure to take lots of notes.

Many thanks to Flame Tree Press for sending me an eARC via NetGalley for my honest review!

Have you read any of these books that didn’t work for me? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments… but please know I am finished giving Six of Crows chances. I will be waiting for the Netflix show to enjoy this story.

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!


  1. evelynreads1

    June 9, 2019 at 9:47 AM

    Ooh i did not expect to see Six of Crows! But not every book is for every one unfortunately:(
    Great review though!


    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:13 PM

      I knowwwww, everyone is always so surprised to hear I didn’t like the book!

  2. motifink

    June 9, 2019 at 9:48 AM

    73 pages?! LOL I didn’t even start the book yet but you are the first that I have seen to DNF the book. But when a book isn’t for you, it isn’t for you.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 9, 2019 at 9:50 AM

      I TRIED SO HARD! It took like 2+ excruciating hours to get to page 73, too. We were going to give it to page 100 before DNFing it a second time but when you are just counting down the pages until you can DNF a book… you should just DNF it.

      1. motifink

        June 10, 2019 at 4:12 PM

        Exactly! No need to keep putting yourself through that.

  3. thewolfandbooks

    June 9, 2019 at 9:51 AM

    I forced myself through Six of Crows. I don’t know how. I ended up liking it in the end, but the heist/action doesn’t even pick up until the very last 50ish-100 pages or something. It took me forever, so I don’t blame you.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:14 PM

      I am actually really glad that I didn’t push through then since it doesn’t pick up until so far in to the book! I am glad you wound up liking the book in the end, though. It would have been a massive bummer had you forced yourself to finish and still hated it.

  4. Jayati

    June 9, 2019 at 10:01 AM

    I am so sorry to hear that you DNFed Six of Crows.
    I am currently reading it and yeah, it is dense with information but I am hoping it will get better as it goes on. I have heard too much about it to not try and get through it!
    I am very sorry to hear that you absolutely couldn’t get through it 🙁

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:15 PM

      I genuinely hope the book picks up for you! I feel so bad having DNFd a book so widely loved by almost all of my friends, but Bardugo’s writing style just isn’t for me at ALL.

  5. Victoria @ The Contented Reader

    June 9, 2019 at 10:17 AM

    I think these posts are such a great idea! Negative reviews are helpful for me too, and I’ve loved some books that others haven’t. I haven’t read Six of Crows, but I’ve tried Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo and I couldn’t get into her writing. Great post ✨

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:16 PM

      I’m glad you also value negative reviews! I haven’t tried anything else by Bardugo largely because I don’t think her writing style is for me, but I am sorry to hear Wonder Woman didn’t work for you! I was side-eyeing it because I love the comics so much.

  6. tiffany @ readbytiffany

    June 9, 2019 at 11:11 AM

    YOOF My heart is hurting at Six of Crows, but I also totally understand. It’s such an information-heavy book, especially in the first couple of chapters, and it honestly takes a while to get into. I hope you can one day pick it up again one day, but I’m also like Good for you in knowing what you like and don’t like because you shouldn’t ever feel like you’re forcing yourself to finish a book 🙂 Great post, Kal!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:18 PM

      The thing that is so weird is I LOVE the first chapter with Joost and his mustache! Like, a lot. But the rest of the book that I read had such a different pacing and narrative feel to it that it felt like a different book to me, and it was not remotely enjoyable. I even tried reading the audiobook after the second DNF and it was still a hard pass for me, which is a shame.

  7. The Bookish Chick

    June 9, 2019 at 11:50 AM

    Even though I ended up enjoying SoC, I can totally understand why you DNF’ed it. The beginning was ROUGH. More power to you for knowing when to call it quits rather than putting yourself through the misery of trying to finish a book just for the sake of finishing it!

    I am totally loving this post in general because I also value negative reviews the same as positive ones!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:20 PM

      I am really glad that you wound up enjoying Six of Crows in the end, that makes me so happy! I loved Joost and his moustache, but that’s about it. I am really looking forward to the netflix show though because I am sure the STORY is one I will love… it’s just the execution that doesn’t work for me.

      And huzzah for another person that values negative reviews!!!

  8. mistysbookspace

    June 9, 2019 at 12:10 PM

    I totally understand about Six of Crows. When I first read it I struggled with it but I would say once I got through the first half of it things got better for me.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:22 PM

      I am really glad the book wound up working for you!!! I even tried the audiobook after DNF #2 and it still just failed to grip me. Womp womp

      1. mistysbookspace

        June 10, 2019 at 1:50 PM

        I totally understand that. It’s definitely not for everybody.

  9. Ruqs

    June 9, 2019 at 1:51 PM

    Great post! Ahh to say Six of Crows is definitely an unpopular opinion but I love how you were just honest about it because we all have the right to our own opinions – and it was also kind of refreshing to see a negative review since most of the time there’s just loads of nonsensical babble-praising it (myself being the victim) haha 🙂 I’m sorry it didnt work for you, I can kind of see why you didn’t like it as I did have to kind of push through the beginning but once I was through I couldn’t stop! I hope your next read is better!!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:25 PM

      I know I am sooo in the minority on Six of Crows and that is totally okay!!! So many of my friends love the book and I think that is why I gave it so many chances even though I knew it wasn’t for me, you know? I am glad you enjoyed the book though, and hopefully my experience will help temper some reader’s expectations going in.

      1. Ruqs

        June 11, 2019 at 12:53 AM

        Yes that is totally cool! And plus I’m probably the only bookworm who hasn’t read Harry Potter with no intention to 🙂

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          June 12, 2019 at 7:39 AM

          You sound like me and the Star Wars films 🙂

          1. Ruqs

            June 12, 2019 at 10:09 AM

            ohh but I’m a star wars fan so… you should watch them 🙂

  10. carolinevaught

    June 9, 2019 at 1:54 PM

    SoC took me a bit to get into, but even if I didn’t fall in love with the writing, I actually genuinely love the story (mostly Kaz). Definitely think about coming back to it some time!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:27 PM

      I recently tried the audioboo for attempt #3 and sadly… I still didn’t like the book. I’ve come to terms with Bardugo’s writing style just not being for me, and anxiously await the netflix show so I can consume the story that way!

  11. maxinesobsessions

    June 9, 2019 at 6:50 PM

    I almost dnf’d Six of Crows, but it was more to do with me finding it way to similar to Mistborn. I got so angry lol. Even on a reread it irritated me. It wasn’t until about 100 pages in that I started enjoying it. I haven’t enjoyed anything else by the author though, so I think she is a “Not For Me” author.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:31 PM

      Oooh I hadn’t heard about the comp to Mistborn, that would probably annoy me too! (When I was buddy reading Wicked Saints my friends talked about how similar it was to the Grisha series.) I am glad the book picked up for you, but we can sit in our “Bardugo isn’t for us” corner together!

  12. Theelderbooks

    June 9, 2019 at 10:01 PM

    Six of Crows was not for me either ! I didn’t DNF it but I did not understand the hype around it.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:32 PM

      I am sorry it didn’t work for you, either!

  13. Sam @ SleepySamReads

    June 10, 2019 at 12:31 AM

    The exact same thing happened to me when I originally tried to read SoC! It helped me A LOT to go back and read the Grisha Trilogy first. A lot of people say you can skip them, but there’s just so much fundamental world building that I definitely don’t recommend it. I went back and read the original trilogy and then absolutely flew through SoC. It’s one of my favorites now!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:33 PM

      That actually makes a lot of sense; friends told me to skip the trilogy too because they knew I wouldn’t enjoy them, but that could have been part of it! I am so glad SoC wound up being a fave for you though, Sam!

      1. Sam @ SleepySamReads

        June 10, 2019 at 2:31 PM

        I definitely recommend giving the trilogy a shot. It’s not the best trilogy ever, but the world is one of my favs and some of my all time favorite book characters are introduced in them. I do understand that it’s not for everyone though!

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          June 12, 2019 at 7:27 AM

          This is very helpful, and I might try the first book in the trilogy if my library has it. If for nothing else to say that I tried EVERYTHING to make this work, hahah. Thank you!

  14. Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea

    June 10, 2019 at 12:51 AM

    Oh I definitely see the merit of negative reviews! Strangely enough, this post made me a bit interested in Second Lives since the concept sounds so cool, and I think I do okay with narrative styles like that? I’m really sad that you didn’t enjoy SoC though because it’s one of my all time faves and I actually flew through the book. I totally get why you’d think it was an information overload though!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 10, 2019 at 1:34 PM

      YAY I am really glad Second Lives sounds good for you! I honestly wanted to love it SO MUCH and it sounded so cool, but I just couldn’t keep things straight. If you do pick it up I recommend taking some notes to keep track.

  15. Gerry@TheBookNookUK

    June 10, 2019 at 1:56 PM

    I read The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo last year and loved it so much that I went out and purchased Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom because I have high expectations that I’ll love it (maybe that’s also the hype). I haven’t started reading Six of Crows yet and am still very much looking forward to starting but it’s genuinely refreshing when someone is honest about what they don’t like *especially* so on an incredibly hyped up book because if I don’t like it than I start worrying I’m not ‘getting it.’

    Not all books are for everybody and that’s just as it should be otherwise we’d all be reading the same things and be very boring people indeed.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 12, 2019 at 7:18 AM

      I hope that you love Six of Crows when you finally get to it, truly! And if anything maybe my experience will help to temper your expectations a little bit – I always am in for a bad time when there aren’t any critical reviews of something, I build it up in my head and am inevitably unhappy as a result. It’s been 15 years and I am still pissed off about Napoleon Dynamite.

  16. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    June 10, 2019 at 6:15 PM

    Love that you are sharing DNF reviews Kaleena! I love reading negative reviews just so I can suss out whether I’d have similar problems too. And actually I couldn’t stand Six of Crows and so I DNFed it but didn’t even leave it on my shelf. I agree I think the characters are probably really great but I didn’t enjoy the writing style. ❤️ I rarely tell anyone this. Thanks for being so brave about it. 😉

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 12, 2019 at 7:29 AM

      Thank you so much, Dani, I am really feeling good about this decision. I am sorry you also had a bad reading experience with Six of Crows, but also kind of glad I am not alone? I swear we are in a small group! Thank YOU for being brave to even share this here!

  17. Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites

    June 10, 2019 at 6:41 PM

    I totally agree, negative and DNF reviews are super helpful! and honestly, any book that has been read by a sufficiently high number of people will have negative reviews, so a lot of the time it just comes down to personal preference – I’m sorry these two didn’t work out for you, it’s always frustrating not being able to get into a book that so many friends love 😕

    I’m one of those who loved Six of Crows but couldn’t get through the Grisha trilogy, so I’m also looking forward to seeing what they do with the show!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 12, 2019 at 7:31 AM

      That’s totally the thing: no thing can be universally liked and I really have learned to be wary of something that has no critique to balance it out because it sets up some expectations for me that are impossible to meet. And it pisses me off when I don’t like the thing.

  18. Rain

    June 11, 2019 at 12:11 AM

    Fun fact: I almost didn’t finish Six of Crows too.

    BUT NOW IT’S ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITE SERIES! I get what you’re saying though. It really took a long time for SoC to build up. I had a lot of issues with the pacing too but in the end I still loved it. Can’t blame you for DNFing it. Readers’ opinions are relative.

    I love this new series, Kal! It’s always a pleasure to know your thoughts.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 12, 2019 at 7:39 AM

      I am so glad it worked for you!!! I think this DNF was so painful because of how much I wanted to like the book and how sure I was that the plot itself was perfect for me. I really tried to get to the good stuff…. but I couldn’t do it. Thanks so much, Rain!

  19. Krisha🌸

    June 11, 2019 at 3:46 AM

    I love SoC but I totally get your point because I was very close to DNF it too! Loved the reviews of the books and they are very well justified. 💛

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      June 12, 2019 at 7:41 AM

      I am so glad the book worked for you, and thank you so much for your comment!

  20. Destiny @ Howling Libraries

    June 12, 2019 at 6:33 PM

    I’m still sad that Six of Crows wasn’t your cuppa, but at the same time, I remember reading it and thinking that I could easily see how people might *not* love it, and it made me wonder why I never heard any negative reviews on it. Even though I loved it, it just struck me as the kind of book that ought to be more polarizing than it is…? I don’t know if that makes sense. 😂 Second Lives, on the other hand, I almost requested and now I’m glad I didn’t.

    1. Kal

      July 4, 2019 at 8:03 PM

      I think people are honestly afraid to voice their opinions on Six of Crows if their experience is anything but ecstatic joy. More than a few people actually mentioned to me they were afraid to share negative thoughts about the book! I think Second Lives could be cool, it just isn’t the kind of narrative style I am in the mood for at all.

  21. Kristina

    June 12, 2019 at 6:49 PM

    Six of crows isn’t one that im particularly interrested in, I tried reading the synopsis and few pages but… nope. Just not my style 🤷🏽‍♀️

    I agree the second one looks so good too! But however i’d have the same problem as you :/ so no point in my trying that one – thanks for the warning!

    1. Kal

      July 4, 2019 at 8:05 PM

      I liked Joost and his mustache, but that was about it for Six of Crows lol!

      One of my friends said she enjoyed the book but had to take extensive notes to keep things straight. So keep that in mind if you decide to pick it up.

  22. TheCaffeinatedReader

    June 13, 2019 at 12:39 PM

    I’m super curious to see if I’ll like SoC, I feel like it’s something I should like but there are times when something just doesn’t click for me, and also it’ll be interesting to see if when I finally get around to this I’ll be running to you and Sam with the same opinion lol

    1. Kal

      July 4, 2019 at 8:12 PM

      I am interested to see what your experience would be. If I could gift you my eBook copy, I would. I want it out of my life lol

  23. Sam || Fictionally Sam

    June 27, 2019 at 9:21 AM

    oof I remember struggling through Six of Crows with you–truly a time. I may attempt to read it again (in the distant future) to see if it just was me not in the mood. but big oof that one was. EXCEPT FOR THE STACHE. THE STACHE WILL FOREVER NEED ITS OWN STORY.

    1. Kal

      July 4, 2019 at 8:56 PM

      Honestly the only good thing about Six of Crows was trying to read that damn thing with you. Twice. I tried it for a third time via audiobook and my god, it was just as bad. THE STACHE WILL LIVE ON

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