I posted about this topic a few weeks ago, but it hit home for me yet again yesterday when I was reviewing another book I’d been given through Netgalley.
to get an idea of what other people think of the book. The reason I do this is to see if I’m totally off the mark with my opinion of the work – which I can be, no lie – or if I somehow missed something along the way that would make me not like the book I’m reviewing.
So. The book I read was really pretty weird. The story was told in three voices, all with their own consecutive chapters. Luckily, the names of the person “talking” appeared on the heading of each chapter, so at least I knew whose Point of View ( POV) I was in. The story itself was a depressing tale of family secrets, murder, and abuse. It was billed as a “suspense/mystery.” Well, I didn’t think there was any suspense, and I figured out the “mystery” 50 pages into the book.
Now, when a story just doesn’t resonate with me, I simply give it a 3 rating ( never less) and don’t write a review. This way at least I rated it in the middle of the curve ( 1-5 stars) and I don’t have to write any negative comments.
Not so much the other people who reviewed it – and I say “reviewed it” in the lightest sense. 10 ratings/reviews were posted ( not including mine). 6 people rated it DNF for did not finish, and then went on to explain why they didn’t. Every one of those explanations was….brutal. Really. Nasty, harsh, and on the cusp of bullying-speak. The other 4 rated it between 1 and 2 with equally critical words.
All I could think was this book was published by a big-name publishing house by a moderately well-known author who probably had an agent ( who read the book before sending it out to publishers) and editors who also devoted time to it, thinking it was worthwhile to publish.
Why? What did they think was so publishing worthy about the story that this random sampling of readers did not?
Out of 10 reviews, plus my own rating, no one had anything good to say. What did this do to the books’ sales? What did this do to the author’s ego? Or sense of writing-self? I agonize over those answers because I’m a writer, too. I hate when anyone says anything derogatory or uber-critical about my words. I know I should let it flow – like water off a duck’s back – but I can’t! My ego is so fragile, (and God I hate how that sounds!) but it’s true. I don’t like to hear bad things about my creative babies.
I wonder how the people who write such nasty, negative reviews would feel if someone they didn’t know wrote something really horrible about them, or something they did for a living? I really do.
And that question is what keeps me from writing a scathing review.
So…if you see my name attached to a review with a 3 rating, just know the book didn’t resonate with me as its reader. But it may with you….just saying