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Thursday, February 6, 2014

An interesting question...

I belong to a lot of loops on Yahoo and LI. Probably too many. Most of the time I simply scan the headlines, unable to devote time to more than a few entries.

One question on an LI loop caught my attention. The commenter asked: "Would you warn readers against reading a certain book?"

I didn't read the comments to see if anyone would do something like that, or if they'd protest against such behavior. I know what I'd do. If I don't like a book, I don't trash it online, because I'm one person with one opinion and god knows, what most people say online doesn't jibe with how I feel.


Over the summer I tried to read all the books I'd been hearing about for so long. The mega bestsellers that had been made into movies. That included The Lovely Bones (never cried so hard in my life - awesome book), The Millennium Trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc. - amazing - I didn't want the trilogy to end. I kept reading slower and slower because I knew when I got to the last page, that was it. What a bummer. Was depressed for days), a couple of Stephen King books (Can't recall them now. I like his earlier work much better), Intensity (Koontz outdid himself on that one. Was on the edge of my seat through the whole thing and the end made me sob - in a good way).

Okay, so far so good.

The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset

Then I got my hands on The Hunger Games. The idea really intrigued me. I couldn't wait to start reading. By the middle of the first book, I wasn't certain how I'd get through the others. I know it was one of the most popular series of all times, but I didn't like Katniss. She seemed whiny to me and disconnected from reality. She seems more worried about what she's going to wear at the games and how she looks than the fact that other kids are going to be hunting her down. I know she's lived with this threat all of her life - that she might be the next one chosen to participate. However, thinking about it and having to do it are two very different things. This isn't the prom we're talking about where the worst thing would be wearing last year's outfit. She could die. The thought of that would certainly make me lose my lunch. I slogged through the first book, then the other two, waiting for them to take fire for me.

Never did.

Did I go online and trash the series? Hell no. And believe me, I'm not trashing them here. I'm simply stating that they didn't appeal to me. That  doesn't  mean they were bad; they just weren't for me.

I'm always amazed when anyone goes on Amazon and proclaims about a book - "I asked for my money back!", "If I could give this book zero stars, I would!", "Don't buy this! I'm warning you!"

I can understand posting ratings like that for a vacuum sweeper that caught fire or an electric toothbrush that took the enamel off your teeth. But for a book?

Hell, people, writing is subjective. Taste is super subjective. No way an author can please everyone. The smart ones don't even try.

So, that's my take on this. What do you do when you read something you really, really, really hate?


Tina Donahue
“Heat with Heart”


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Rose Anderson said...

It is an interesting question, Tina. A friend once pushed me to read a book she loved. I tried, believe me, I tried. I pressed on through three chapters and gave up. Another friend asked me to read an entire series by a well-known author saying "stick with it, it'll get better". I write and weave erotic romance into an actual story. If my characters come together, there was a spark beforehand. This series was so bloated with gratuitous sex and violence that sprang out of nowhere, that I had a very hard time slogging through and found myself skipping blocks of text just to find the small story thread. Just terrible.

But I am of the same mind as you. Just because I didn't get into these books doesn't mean they don't have merit. Some people like them or they wouldn't have a following. I think where reviews are concerned, I don't understand the haters. I really don't understand the haters who hate not only one book from the author, they go buy/read more so they can hate those too. That's nuts. Even more perplexing are the books that get bad reviews before they've even launched. From what I've seen, the worst reviews often come from other authors. This business is harsh enough. They should be kinder.

Sandy said...

Tina, I'm in that same loop on LI, and I have been reading some of the comments and left one myself.

There was only one comment left that might have been a hater, but most of the comments were pretty thoughtful. The ones who couldn't give at least a 3 would write directly to the author and tell her/he what they thought was wrong. Anything lower than a 3 they wouldn't post a review.

I thought overall the discussion was a good one. I try to do something very similar as above.

Cara Marsi said...

Tina, this is great. I will never leave a bad review. If I don't like a book, I say nothing. I understand, as you say, that reading tastes are subjective. I also know how hard we writers work and I would never diss another writer's book in public.

Years ago I learned that just because a book is a bestseller doesn't mean it's good. I used to take the train into Philly for work and I'd see what everyone was reading and run out and buy it. Most of the time the books disappointed, all hype and not much else. Now I read what appeals to me and to heck with the bestseller lists.

I have a one-star review on my best selling book where the reviewer says nothing about the story, only she was angry because she said she "warned" people against the book and they were still buying it. I don't know where she warned them against it. I also have a 3-star review on another book where the reviewer admits she hadn't read it, that it sounds good and she intends to read it. WTF? Of course, Amazon won't take either review down.

Thanks for the thought-provoking question.

Tina Donahue said...

I agree with everything you've said, Rose. I can't understand anyone totally trashing a book they didn't like as though they're trying to save the world from that author. Come on, that's silly.

I have my fav authors; however, I never read anyone's work that has pleased me completely book after book. Some books from Koontz, for example IMO are just great (Intensity, Odd Thomas), others just okay. Same goes for Stephen King, Margaret Atwood. I adored The Handmaid's Tale and got all her other books. They were good, but they didn't move me like THT.

Sometimes it's where you are in your life. When I first discovered King's Carrie, I thought it was dumb. Years later, I read it again and understood the bullying aspect of it more, and enjoyed it a lot more.

As I stated in my post, this is so subjective.

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Sandy - that's very professional and nice of those authors not to trash someone online. After all, it could always come back to bite them. And it's only their opinion of the book. They could be wrong. God knows, I haven't liked some of the most popular books out there.

Tina Donahue said...

Wow, Cara, a 3 star review and the person didn't even read it. What's that about?

I got my first DNF (did not finish) the other day from a reviewer. Gave the book 2.5 stars. Absolutely hated it. BTW: this book was nominated for Book of the Year at Long and Short Reviews.

Again, so subjective.

What Rose said earlier is disheartening (but true), that some authors trash others, I suppose in the hopes of increasing their own sales.

I've learned not to put too much trust in reviews.

I've just signed up for Hulu (ditched cable) and watch their free movies. Most of them are indies and WAY better than what Hollywood puts out. In fact, the films that get the crappiest reviews are often the ones I enjoy most.

Sometimes that goes for books too. :)

Paris said...


There have been several books in the past couple of years that have made me wonder what all the hoopla was about but that's just my opinion. Judging by their sales and movie deals, I'm in a minority but that doesn't really bother me. It's just my opinion. I don't understand the need to trash a book, online.

Tina Donahue said...

Me either, Paris.

With the anonymity of the Internet we've become a bullying, mean country.

I learned as a kid that a bully has to trash someone else to feel good about himself or herself.

Could be that's where those nasty reviews are coming from.

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Tina, very well said. And to be truthful here, I too didn't see the appeal in the Hunger Games either.

But like you explained, it amazes me the amount of people who give such cruel reviews for a book they didn't like. It seems to be more prevalent these days and it breaks my heart to hear an author be so hurt by it that they second guess writing another book, or even writing at all.

Great post.

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Renee

Anyone who really wants to write won't let anyone keep them from it. I hope the newbies out there don't let reviews bother them. It's part of the biz and, of course, you have to consider the source. :)

Marianne Stephens said...

I've started reading books and never got past a chapter or two. Do I trash them in comments? No. My opinion isn't what others might think. I too have had some trash comments on Amazon (some ridiculous) but I ignore them. Some people like to feel better about themselves by trashing others. One comment, and I quote: "Now I know why I don't read bodice rippers." Seriously? Why would this person read a romance book...other than to trash it?
If someone enjoys/doesn't like a book, well, their opinion is theirs. I don't judge potential books I want to read by what others say. No two people think alike or have the same taste.

Melissa Keir said...

I never trash a book. The author pours their heart into their work. It's like telling someone that their child is horrible. I think tact is much better as a teacher. Obviously we have some children who need different encouragements, but I always try to find one thing positive to say. Just as I do about each book, even if I didn't like it.

Great post!

jean hart stewart said...

Certainly agree that if you truly want to write nothing will stop you. And as for trashing another author... I just don't comment.

Tina Donahue said...

I agree with you, Marianne. I think the Internet has opened up a way for bullies everywhere to get their rocks off.

Tina Donahue said...

Melissa, you are probably one of the nicest people I've ever known. It's an honor to know you. I wish everyone could have a positive attitude like you do. Seriously, you brighten my day. :)

Tina Donahue said...

I don't either, Jean. Life's too short to be nasty.

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