Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Sticks, Stones and Bad Reviews

Negative reviews carry a sting which lingers whether an author likes to admit it or not.  A few sharp comments rushed off online can nullify months, even years of work as savaging an author takes little skill and a lot of venom - and to what purpose? To deliberately injure a writer they have never met simply because they can?

We have all read books we have hated - a character we didn't take to, a storyline we thought unbelievable and over simplified, or a plot which didn't work. However most of us choose not to air our views public at the expense of an author.

Trashing a book with scathing personal criticism or hyperbole against an author says more about the reviewer than the reviewed. It's also instinctive for a writer to respond to a bad review with an answering tirade but it’s best to remember that reviews are a single person's opinion and nothing more. Most of us have read an author’s response which have turned into online back and forth rant between attacker and attacked, and neither of them come out of it particularly well. 

We all read different things into books. They either touch us or they don't and what is one persons 'OMG best book ever' is another's 'This is rubbish'. And are they all bad? A negative review amongst a page of five star ones has piqued my curiosity on occasion and made me buy the book.  Authors cannot control a reader's expectation of a novel, so liking or disliking a book is often a question of personal taste.  

I don't claim to be a literary giant writing award winning books that carve a niche in society and touch souls. I write light-hearted stories with a beginning, middle and an end where the good triumph and the bad get their just desserts - mostly. I do know that anyone who has ever written a book is unlikely to deliberately and cruelly trash anyone else's work - we know too well what goes into producing one.

Therefore I take the stance that if readers don't like my books - don't read them. I can live with that. 

Here are some interesting links to some famous books which attracted unfavourable reviews. One from The Saturday Review which says of Harper Lee's 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

'Miss Lee's problem has been to tell the story she wants to tell and yet to stay within the consciousness of a child, and she hasn't consistently solved it.'

Even Classics Get Trashed

Shockingly Bad Reviews


Petrea Burchard said...

Don't I know it! I've reviewed many books, working for two different editors. On one site, I got to choose what I reviewed, and I only reviewed books I could say something nice about. On the other site, I didn't have a choice. That was hard work! But I can always find something good to say. Or, if that's not possible, then I keep my mouth shut!

Anita Davison said...

I agree Petrea, even negative comments can be constructive, but trashing is simply mean spirited