I’m one of those writers who reads reviews. Of my books.
I mean, if I don’t read reviews, how do I know what people think of my books? I can’t imagine not reading reviews. Of course, they can sometimes be painful, but we writers know that we can’t please everyone, right? Life would be dull, dull, dull, if we all liked the same things. Even Fifty Shades of Grey got a few bad reviews, and we all know how many people bought THAT book.
Reviews are strange things though, because the Internet allows anyone and everyone to be a critic. Blogging, Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari – there are so many places for readers to deposit their reviews, and the quality of reviewing varies hugely.
Of course, we all know about ‘Sock-Puppet’Gate and the cringing embarrassment at some authors being exposed as writing their own reviews and making up on-line personas to discredit their writing ‘rivals’. Well, I recently read about a spate of so-called ‘bullying’ on Goodreads. There’s even a campaign to try to stop readers from writing vitriolic reviews, some of which even go as far as personally insulting the authors.
I find myself wondering what drives a reader to spend their time doing such a thing? I understand that the Internet acts as a kind of self-contained bubble in which people sometimes behave in ways they ordinarily wouldn’t – in much the same way as being inside a car disassociates drivers from other drivers – but, really . . . have people got nothing better to do than go out of their way to be unpleasant? I had one such review a few years ago and thought perhaps I had done something to insult the reader – perhaps I’d been round to his house and tortured his kittens during a rare bout of sleep-walking? There were those scratch marks that morning I woke up and . . . no, it couldn’t be, could it?
Anyway, I got over it (the review, I mean, not the torturing of kittens. I can confirm I have never been involved in any such activity; not even Cat Juggling). I really do believe that people should be free to say whether or not they like something but, well, there are ways of saying you don’t like something without being nasty about it, right? (Unless we’re talking about Cat Juggling, ’cause that’s just plain WRONG).
There’s another kind of review that baffles me. This is the kind that exposes large amounts of plot detail. In fact, some reviews consist ONLY of plot details.
RED WINTER has earned itself some great reviews – in blogs and publications for which I have a great deal of respect – but I was bewildered to read one which did a superb job of giving away the plot twist. The whole book rests on something which isn’t revealed to the reader until the end of the book – unless you’ve read this particular review, of course – and it was odd to see the reviewer just lay it all out there for everyone to see. It was actually a positive review, the reader had enjoyed the book, but what on earth must they have been thinking when they gave up all the goodies like that?
It’s just . . . bizarre.
So, how about you? Had any weird reviews?