And I Darken DNF Review (Yep, my first DNF)

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

And I Darken DNF Review (Yep, my first DNF)And I Darken (Conqueror's Saga, #1) by Kiersten White
Published by Corgi Childrens on July 7th 2016
Genres: Fantasy (YA), Historical Fiction
Pages: 484
Source: the publisher
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No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.
Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.
Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.
The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

I really really really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t, and it has become my first DNF review on here.

Before I begin, I got almost exactly 50% through this book before giving up. I think that’s plenty for me to give an adequate review.

First of all, what ultimately made me put this down, was the pacing. It’s excruciatingly slow. Looking at my notes while reading this book, my first bullet point is “very slow > 167 pages in and nothing has happened”. ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN PAGES and I still felt like nothing happened.

The problem was that the book literally follows Lada from birth. I thought the first chapter was a good intro, I thought it was just another “origin” sort of introduction. I was wrong. It then goes to when her little brother is born (so she’s about 2 or 3), then to when she’s 6. It follows her whole life and by the time I put it down (almost 50%), she was still under 13 years-old.

This method of story-telling caused two things to happen for me:

  1. I didn’t feel connected to the characters at all. They were just too young. Also, Lada is just evil from the beginning. There really isn’t development on why she’s like that. What I gathered is that she was cursed (literally). I would have preferred if something bad happened to her and that’s why she was the way she was. As for Radu, her brother, it was the same with him. He was too good. He was also a little weird with Mehmed — were his feelings romantic? I couldn’t tell.
  2. It never felt like the story was heading anywhere. Sure, things were happening, but they never pointed at a specific plot. Almost half way through and there still wasn’t a solid story being built. At least, not one I cared about. It was kind of all over the place.

Also, this book is compared to Game of Thrones. I don’t agree with this at all, you’d really have to stretch in order to make that comparison. A Song of Ice and Fire is full of political intrigue, corruption, complex characters. And I Darken is just a generic “girl wants the throne” type YA story. It can’t even be compared to Martin’s story or world.

To the books credit, I didn’t get past age 12 with Lada. Maybe in the last half she gets better, maybe there is more character development, maybe the plot thickens — but if I have to read over 200 pages to get to that, that’s not good. It should not take that long to develop at least something. Also, this is a trilogy, which makes me feel like maybe White had to stretch out the story in order to actually make it three books? Some of the things that happened in the first half of this could have been condensed so much.

Overall, I did not like this book. It lacked anything that would capture my attention.

letsdiscussHave you read this book? What did you think?

What books have you DNF’d?

  • Haha, I find it really interesting that you DNFed this one! I finished it and absolutely loved it – it was my most recent five-star read. So sorry to hear that the beginning didn’t capture you and it frustrated you enough that it became your first DNF. 😛

    For some reason, while I do agree that the pacing was slow, I really enjoyed reading about Lada’s childhood – I felt like it was enough of “things happening” that it didn’t make me wish more things were happening, if that makes sense? I have an e-copy though and can’t recall how far into the book I went until the plot really picks up. Hope your next read is better!

    Reg @ She Latitude

    • So many people loved it xD I wish I did, really. The cover is so pretty and I like that it was based on Vlad the Impaler. But, yeah, I just could not get into that beginning. Oh well, to each his own!

  • Oh no!!! I rated this one five stars! I do agree that not much happens in the first half. I even have text conversations asking someone if something was going to happen eventually. I honestly thought I might DNF it also, but then the second half happened and I ended up LOVING it! I can totally understand why you’d give up though. 😉 I do agree that it’s not comparable to GoT, BUT I also don’t think it’s a “girl wants the throne” kind of book, especially once you dig into the second half. Things get much more complicated… I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one! Great DNF review though!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    • I saw that you did! xD This might be one of the very few times we disagree on a book haha

      I don’t know how the second half is, so yeah, my ‘girl wants the throne’ thing is from the first half. At least, that’s the vibe I got from her. Whether that’s the plot or not, I don’t know. But, oh well! I wasn’t ready to commit to the second half haha

  • [email protected]

    Most reviews I’ve seen have loved this book, but this isn’t actually the first DNF review I’ve come across for it, which is making me a little apprehensive. I can deal with slow plots if the characters are great or the writing is excellent, but you’re not the first person I’ve seen that’s said Lada isn’t very nice. I’m still gonna buy it and give it a go, however, but thanks for writing such a detailed on why you didn’t like it!

    • I have only seen positive reviews for this book. I wish I would have seen some DNF or negative reviews before going in, maybe my expectations would have been a little lower haha. As for Lada not being nice, it makes sense — she’s supposed to be Vlad. BUT I just felt like it wasn’t developed well. There should have been more reasoning behind why she was like that, especially since we’re following her from literally DAY ONE of her life. Ah, oh well. I hope you like it more than I did! 🙂

  • Vanessa Buttino

    Oh damn … this truly doesn’t bode well for me. I was SO looking forward to this book when it was first announced by the publisher and I even preordered it off of Book Depository because I was THAT excited! I have it on my shelf but I haven’t picked it up yet. After reading your review, I feel like I don’t even want to read it anymore to be honest :/

    I usually don’t like YA books to begin with but the fact this book was loosely based on Vlad the Impaler had me intrigued from day one. All of the things you spoke about in this post are things that I know would irritate me so yeah … now I’m not even sure if I’m going to end up reading it AT ALL. Which, to me, isn’t such a great loss. I’ll probably end up donating it to my local library and at least let someone else benefit from it!

    Thanks for giving us your honest review x

    • Ah, I’m sorry! You MAY like it. A lot of people did, I just didn’t want to stick it out until the story picked up. Some people loved the ‘following her through childhood’ thing — it just wasn’t for me.

      The Vlad the Impaler thing intrigued me too. It’s funny, when I told my husband what the book was about, he thought it was SO dumb and was going to be a terrible book. Maybe I should have listened to him hahah xD

      • Vanessa Buttino

        Haha! I guess your husband’s intuition was correct 😉

  • Wow, 50% and she’s only 13? That’s crazy. I’m so happy I read your review because there’s no way I could take that. I don’t have any patience. But from other reviews I’ve read, yes, Ladu is in love with Mehmed which would be a selling point for me, but then it seems like they probably don’t end up together. So it’s just another love triangle where the end couple isn’t even what you hope for.

    That being said, yay for first DNF. Well, not yay per say. But yay for not putting yourself through more pain just to finish because you think you have to.

    • Right?! She didn’t even reach a relatable age yet! EHH, the brother and Mehmed thing was just weird from what I read. It was heavy with religion and then this weird obsession. I don’t know, it was oddly done if that’s the angle the author was going for. Also, if it is a love triangle, again, weird, considering it would be a brother and sister going for the same guy??? (At least from what i read)

      hahaha I totally get what you’re saying. Honestly, it’s kind of a yay because I always force myself to finish books, but now that I’ve DNF’d one, maybe I’ll feel more comfortable doing it in the future lol

  • SO glad to read this because I swear I have only seen really positive reviews. Slow pacing is the death of me for books. I just cannot take it so this would not work for me at all!!! Sorry this didn’t work for you. Great review!

    • Same! I went in with such high expectations because everyone loved it, but I was so let down. Hopefully my next read is better xD

  • A book that slow? Yeah, count me out. I’m deleting this from my TBR. I was so looking forward to it, but slow books really frustrate me and dampen my mood so this is a big no no for me. I’m sorry you didn’t like this but great review!

    • oh no! I hope I didn’t just stop you from reading a book you might like …. xD BUT it was slow (from what I read), so if you hate that, maybe it’s good yo aren’t going to read it.

  • Oh wow, that does sound slow. And what you said about how it didn’t seem like there was a story being built, that kind of sounds like how I get restless in books if it starts getting deeper and deeper into the book and I still don’t know what the goal of the book is. Feels like nothing is actually getting accomplished, are we getting closer to achieving what the character is trying to achieve? But anyway, this was never on my TBR, just not my kinda book. Sorry it didn’t work out for you though!

    • Exactly! That’s how I was feeling. I just kept going and going and still had NO IDEA what it was about. There was a war going on, that’s about all I gathered. But I still didn’t know what the MC’s goal was. Oh well!

  • Oh wow this book sounds so interesting… but if it’s THAT slow, I’m not sure I would read it xD I really can’t stand slow paced books, it feels really boring! Thanks for the warning xD

    • It did sound interesting and it might get better in the second half, I just wasn’t willing to commit any more time to it haha xD

  • I’ve seen a lot of people raving about this one, but I also DNFed about a third of the way through the book. I completely agree with you all around – it was so slow and it felt like nothing was happening! I really wanted to love it too 🙁

    • Ah, yes! Someone I can relate with! I really wanted to love it as well so that’s what makes this even more disappointing! I had such high expectations, but what even was the plot? 50% in and I never knew!

  • Alisha

    It definitely sounds interesting! I love the sibling aspect. But I can’t believe it’s that slow. Halfway through and she’s not even really a teenager yet? Yikes. I understand (well actually no I seriously disagree / dislike it) stretching things out but like.. I don’t think it’s ever necessary to cover a character’s entire childhood pretty much from birth, you know? That’s more than a little excessive. The cover is gorgeous tho!

    • The sibling thing isn’t even really a positive of it, though. At least for the first half. She hates her brother, but then…kind of cares? I don’t know! Her personality is so weird! But, yeah, I think it was so unnecessary just how much the book followed her life. It got so boring. The cover is pretty, though D:

  • I totally agree with everything you’ve said! I recently DNF’d this too — I was 150 pages into it and trying not to fall asleep. I didn’t mind how evil Lada was, but I was just bored with the whole story line. I wasn’t thrilled with Mehmed and found the political storyline to be pretty bland.

    • Exactly. It was just boring. I wish it didn’t follow her from birth to whatever age she is at the end. It would have been more interesting if it focused on a specific time in her life with maybe a few background stories. Oh well