My husband recently downloaded a book based upon the reviews. The 5 star ratings made it seem like this was one of the most well written books in history. It was the right genre–starting life over in a post-apocalyptic world–KABOOM! Good MAN stuff. How could he go wrong?
Well, when a review is vague or outright lies, you can go very wrong. My husband finished the book, but he complained the whole time about what a cheesy, terrible, boring plot it was…and wondered why it was called The Mission. He was done and didn’t know what mission those bozo characters had done. And there were mutant mind-reading goats in the story–in fact, they were a central part of it…but nowhere in the reviews were they mentioned.
My husband went back to Amazon and reread the reviews, wondering what he was missing.
I told him there was nothing wrong with him. In fact, I’ve learned from reading other blogs that sometimes authors are a little tricky and have friends and family write up glowing reviews to help them sell more books. I don’t know if that is what Benton did on his terrible book, or if some people like poorly written books about mutant mind-reading goats that save humanity.
Whatever the case, both my husband and I realized the value of a good, truthful book review. He wrote up his first, and titled it Mutant Goats (since no one else had fessed up to that weirdness). Here it is; I thought it was quite tactful considering he hated it so much.
This book started out interesting, drawing me in with the concept of a group of people restarting civilization after a nuclear war. However, it slowed dramatically as the characters emerged from their bio cave into the empty world. You would expect trials and conflicts to be resolved as they struggle with little technology and help, but nothing really happened to make me want to continue reading. Instead it is mostly a story about humans and their relationship with giant mutant goats. The story ended without really drawing it to a close, but there wasn’t much to wrap up since little was happening in the story anyway.
Here is a picture of mind-reading goats (not really). The funny thing was, once my husband uploaded his 2 star review (I felt he was being way too generous, but he figured since he read the whole thing, it deserved at least that), that within a week several 1 star reviews popped up by even more truthful readers. They ranted about how awful it was and said they couldn’t finish it and wanted their money back. My husband felt vindicated.
I will soon have my first book out on Amazon to buy, and I am scared to death to see the reviews. I know logically that not everyone will like my book. There is not any book that someone doesn’t hate–even by the best authors. But I hope people will write truthful reviews after they read it–about what they liked or didn’t like, whether the plot was any good, and stuff like that.
Another post I read this week by author Matthew Iden talked about what makes a review good or bad. You can give a GOOD 2-star review…and a BAD 5-star review. Be truthful, smart, and helpful when you review a book. Whether you love or hate it, give specific reasons so that others can be guided to know whether a book is a good fit for them or not.
And now I will make a confession. Before I started blogging, I never reviewed a book (except on Goodreads.com), and I have read TONS. I never saw the point. Now that I am close to putting my own book out there, I feel ashamed of my past neglect. Authors need those reviews to help them know how the public perceives their writing. Readers need those reviews to help them make good decisions. So when you really like a book, give the author a pat on the back with a good review. If you hate a book, give other readers a heads-up, so they can avoid it like the plague.
And now, I must go and feed my herd of mutant mind-reading, ninja goats in the backyard. They are telling me they want filet mignon–they can plant thoughts in my head as well as read my thoughts. It comes in handy. Fire up the grill, honey!
- Reviewing Book Reviews (terrywhalin.blogspot.com)