DNF ARC REVIEW: Middlegame – by Seanan McGuire

Title: Middlegame
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
First published: May 7th 2019
Publisher: Tor.com 
Finished reading: May 4th 2019
Pages: 528
DNF at 41% (217 pages)

“Numbers are simple, obedient things, as long as you understand the rules they live by. Words are trickier. They twist and bite and require too much attention.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Tor.com in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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WARNING: it’s unpopular opinion time again!

I never in the world expected to end up writing a DNF review for Middlegame. I absolutely adore the Wayward Children series and while I’ve yet to try her other work, I had full confidence this new story was going to be another winner. All those raving reviews and 5 star ratings only reconfirmed that belief… But I guess it wasn’t ment to be. First of all I have to stress that I feel really bad about the decision to DNF, especially since I almost never have to resort to such a drastic decision and Middlegame is such a highly anticipated title. Trust me, I haven’t taken this decision lightly,and I have really tried to overcome my initial feelings and warm up to the story. But after a second, third and fourth chance, I’m throwing in the towel at 41%. I’m very happy most people seem to be having a complete opposite experience from mine though. It’s easy to deduct Middlegame is able to provoke very strong reactions; either you get the story and you absolutely adore every single page, or you feel like a mighty confused heap of mess and are left clueless and lost in the woods. Spoiler: I’m part of the second group. Again, I’m feeling really bad for having to take this decision, but it is what it is I guess.

I’m having a hard time properly expressing why I struggled so much with this story, but a lot of it had to do with the fact that (especially in the beginning) I had no idea what I was reading. I was extremely confused and frustrated by the fact I didn’t understand what all those different characters and events had to do with each other, and with the fantastical elements left without a proper explanation it was mostly guesswork and question marks instead of me starting to understand the world. Middlegame can mostly be classified as urban fantasy with sci-fi elements, although some POVs are definitely hardcore fantasy. Those are without doubt the most confusing ones as no proper explanation was offered (or at least up to that point). I admit things got slightly better with some POVs, especially when we follow Roger and Dodger, as they offer an almost ‘normal’ world where things are easier to understand. I loved that Roger is all about words, that Dodger is a math genius and how they are connected. I wasn’t a real fan of the writing style, although their chapters are probably the most readable. I really disliked those chapters with Reed, but again part of the problem was that I felt information was missing and I couldn’t properly understand it. Ever read a sequel without reading the first book, finding yourself confused all the time because you are missing crucial information? That was how I felt most of the time while I was trying to read Middlegame. Again, I seem to be the exception here as most people seem to love this story, so don’t give up on Middlegame on my account. Just remember that if you do find yourself being a confused pile of mess when you are reading it, you are not the only one.


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18 thoughts on “DNF ARC REVIEW: Middlegame – by Seanan McGuire

  1. Aye, matey. This was me experience of the book too. I wanted to like it so much and tried to read it multiple times. But I just kept feeling like me noggin was going to explode in all of the confusion. Nice review. Sad this book didn’t work for ye either.
    x The Captain

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Don’t feel bad DNFing a book. I think it is apt you DNFed why should you spend your time on earth reading such books. And why should you feel bad about it? Some books are easy to get and some books are just not for us.
    Feel happy that you took an intelligent decision. And get to your next read
    Unless you have nothing in your TBR? 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha nothing on my TBR?? I don’t think that will ever happen. xD I don’t like DNFing books, especially if they are ARCs (one of the reason I’m kind of glad I don’t get physical ARCs or I would feel even worse), but sometimes there is just no other option left… You are right, there are so many books out there and not every story is a right fit for everyone. I hope others will have a better experience with it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I DNF’d a NetGalley book last week and I still feel guilty 🤷‍♀️ And you know, we give it our all, we give the books a fair try but we cannot love them all so we shouldn’t feel guilty. Yet we do! When you’re not feeling it, it’s better to leave it, especially when you’ve been receiving so much great bookpost 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know right? The guilty feeling is always there, but there are so many books out there and not enough time to read them all even without reading books that really don’t work for you. And yes, I have a pile of very tempting titles staring at me right now. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s no point in trudging through a book you don’t like – I never do, either. I thought you gave a really fairminded account of why this one was a DNF for you. Life’s too short and the world is too full of awesome reads:)). That said, while I found the beginning rather slow, I did enjoy this one, particularly once it got to the point when it was 90% about Roger and Dodger… Better luck with your next book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m happy to hear it picked up for you! I kept reading mainly hoping the same would happen to me, but after 41% I decided to give up. Like you said, life is too short to waste time on books that just aren’t a right fit…

      Liked by 1 person

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