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  • Sep. 15th, 2009 at 11:21 AM
Stack Books
So I'm still in that stage of book-release-joy where I read most of my reviews (I know, I know, I shouldn't, but I can't help it!) I've been pretty lucky so far, and haven't had many that panned AS YOU WISH. In fact, reading my reviews has gotten me into the habit of reading and following other authors' reviews as well. I've realized there are four kinds of reviews:

-Meaningful, thought out reviews that analyze the book and make a sound judgment (whether that judgment be positive or negative). These reviews are WIN. Pure WIN.
-People that just give a ranking, with no explanation as to why.
-People that knock a book down because they disagree with it on some sort of moral level.
-People who knock a book down because of something entirely irrelevant to the text.

I-- and most authors-- have gotten a few in each category. And before I continue-- this is not a rant against bad reviews. If you dislike a book I love-- if you dislike my book-- and provide meaningful commentary on why, more power to you. That's a-okay.

This is, however, a rant against all the other review types. So here we go:

People that just give a ranking, with no explanation as to why.
I think this confuses me because I'm one of those people who really, really likes telling people what I think.
Sometimes to a fault. But anyway:
If you're taking the time to review and affect a book's star ranking why not explain it? Did you not read it carefully enough to explain yourself? I can excuse this a little more with a five star unexplained ranking since the five stars just implies "All is awesome with this book," but unexplained fours, threes, twos, ones...no. Just no. Write a real review! Tell us why you feel that way! You have the chance to make your opinion heard, and you're missing it!

People that knock a book down because they disagree with it on some sort of moral level
I saw a two star review for a book about a gay teen, and the explanation was "I didn't like that the main character was gay."
Um...why did you read the book then, for starters?
But that aside: Did the book, independent of your personal views, smoothly accomplish what it set out to do? Was the plot developed? Were the characters realistic? Was the writing beautiful?
What's that? You don't know, you just know they were gay and that's icky? Right. Ok then.
All reviews are personal opinions, of course-- but there's a difference between saying "I didn't personally feel that the characters were well-rounded" and "One was gay and I don't like that."

People who knock a book down because of something entirely irrelevant to the text.
I got a three star review on Amazon like this. The 300 word review says the following about the book itself: "the story is consistent and even thruout."
Seven words. 2% of the review.
The rest of the review is a rant about how the book isn't available on the kindle. That's why it was ranked three stars. Oh wait-- and she hated the cover. Kindle + Cover = 3 stars, regardless of the quality of the story.
I'm not really angry about that-- more disappointed. If you're going to give me book three stars, fine, but can it at least be because of a fault within the text itself?

This is why I love the book blogging community. Even amid the dozens of book bloggers who have hated my cover, they still provide thoughtful, meaningful reviews for not just my book, but all books. They understand that the text is what is really being reviewed, and that a ranking without explanation is worthless. They provide meaningful commentary on the text from multiple angles, with a thought out conclusion. I value their opinions, instead of dismissing them because they're like the reviews mentioned above. I'm eager to see what they review, what they like, and why they liked it.

Book bloggers are rockstars.
Rock on, Book Bloggers, rock on.


( Comment )
twistedfates wrote:
Sep. 15th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
I have a strange hatred for reviews, despite the fact I write them myself. I went and bought Lament for the sole reason that someone wrote a review on the B&N website calling it stupid and saying it was a Faery version of Twilight. I didn't really have the money to buy it yet but I did anyway just so I could read it and write a proper, not clouded by Twilight Obsession, review for it. People think because they half read something the way they half listen to their friends makes it acceptable to tell everyone how horrible a book.

As for the cover... I thought we weren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover... Lol. I take the jacket off hardcover books anyway. So I had the pretty pink cover to stare at when I wasn't reading As You Wish.
(no subject) - dajoey - Sep. 15th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
olmue wrote:
Sep. 15th, 2009 05:04 pm (UTC)
The last one--yeah, people should get a clue that a review of a book isn't the same thing as a review of Amazon's service. And I've seen the reviews where the words don't seem to match the stars. Not very helpful.

I don't think that Goodreads is the same thing as a professional review, though. The point that someone totally overlooks the skill with which a book is read in favor of complaining about the pink bunnies in it--because they hate pink bunnies--seems within the range of Goodreads to me. It's a place where people can keep track of what books they read and talk about them with their friends--who may have similar tastes. To recommend pink bunnies to a group of people who just don't like that sort of thing seems counterproductive, even if it has good similes. Or whatever.

Actually, I wish there was another word entirely, because I just don't think you can take someone's personal, subjective reaction to a text they read in the context of the rest of their life--which you know nothing about--and equate that to a professional review that considers a book's positive and negative aspects in what is hopefully a more or less objective light. Even as a reader, I just blow off those subjective ones.

Totally OT, but I'm sad Coldplay didn't give permission for the music you're playing. Love Story Meets Love Story is great, but the version with Viva la Vida was better.
lisa_schroeder wrote:
Sep. 15th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
So funny you posted about this. I just got this long personal message from someone on goodreads. So glad I found you here, I think I was meant to find your book, I lost someone close to me, it really touched me, yada yada yada.

Yeah. She gave the book a 3-star rating. And NO explanation. WTF??? I haven't written her back yet, although I'll probably bite my tongue and just say, sorry for your loss and I'm glad it touched you.

But yeah, why the 3-star rating, when she obviously liked it enough to seek me out and tell me about it??
robinellen wrote:
Sep. 15th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Since I just finished your book, I'll be reviewing it soon (oh, the pressure, hehe) -- but I'm wondering, would you call it contemporary? Paranormal? Fantasy?
jessica_shea wrote:
Sep. 16th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
I admit I don't usually write reviews on Goodreads, but you're making me think that maybe I should elaborate on my star ratings.
ext_136835 wrote:
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
Reviewing books is one of my favorite things to do on my blog. I *hope* to get your book this weekend, so a review will be imminent...and I promise it will be the WIN type of review ;)
toyboy wrote:
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
I would think the people that don't like the book because the main character is gay most likely didn't read the book. They probably skimmed the summery and decided from that. I see it on a lot of movie reviews.

I usually write short reviews for books. Basically if I gave it four starts...I just write "I knocked it down one star for blah blah blah, but really enjoyed the rest of it because blah blah blah burp." I never claim to be a blogger but I tell people why I do and don't like a book (on shelfari).

ALSO! I started your book! So far it is really good. I also had a couple people come up at work and remark on the pink binder so I got to tell them what I am reading.
mindiscott wrote:
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:48 am (UTC)
Maybe when my book comes out, I'll feel like this, too. But for now, I always feel like it's unnecessary to give more explanation on goodreads than the numerical review. (I'm not saying people shouldn't give more information if they wish to, but I personally am too lazy to get into the specifics.)

The ratings on goodreads have those statements that correspond: 1. I didn't like it, 2. It was okay, 3. I liked it, 4. I really liked it, 5. It was amazing.

If I give someone's book three stars, that means I liked it. Truly. It means that, no, it wasn't one of my favorite books of all, but my experience while reading it was pleasurable. Most often, that is the most detail I really want to give about what I've read.
blackwithenvy wrote:
Sep. 16th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
Goodness. Writing a book would be hard. It's like handing in an essay to millions of english teachers who will all give different grades and differing amounts of feedback. I don't know if I could handle it.

Stay strong.
mewalker1999 wrote:
Sep. 19th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)
Great post. I totally agree! It's always sad when someone doesn't like your book, but if they've got well thought out reasons, even the author can learn from what they've said. I definitely have learned from a few of my less-than-perfect reviews. (I still like the five star ones better though!). :)
ext_189770 wrote:
Sep. 20th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
I've decided to review your book based on the above comments and your blog header. I give it a four our of five because many people gave it a three and so it must be better than that and also because your header has cats in it and I'm allergic to cats.

(tongue is now being removed from cheek)
( Comment )

Oh, hi!

My name is Jackson Pearce-- I'm the author of retold fairytales (SISTERS RED, SWEETLY, FATHOMLESS, COLD SPELL), funny contemporary stories (PURITY), tales of wishes come true (AS YOU WISH), and middle grade adventures (THE DOUBLECROSS, coming July 2015, and PIP BARTLETT'S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES, coming May 2015).

This is NOT my main blog page-- this is a syndicated livejournal account. Please check out my main blog/site at www.jacksonpearce.com!
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