Revenge is a dish … or a warship?

There’s definitely a lot of authorial self-doubt about, evidenced by the way five star reviews are triumphantly trumpeted whilst one star trolling prompts hand-wringing and wails.

A few months ago I reviewed a thriller, The Source by Zach Abrams. It is a well-written lighthearted romp with occasional depths, and I enjoyed it very much. O.K., the plot may creak a bit in places, but so does ‘Othello’. I’m a generous reviewer (There But For The Grace Of God Walk I), and I gave it five stars. When I was posting my review, I had a look at the one star review for the same work, by an Amazon Top 1,000 Reviewer, no less. This was not your average trolling one-line ‘It stinks’ effort, but several detailed paragraphs. The reviewer had clearly read the book, described bits of it, and then written ‘it stinks’ after each snippet.

My conclusion; the author had majorly pissed off someone who then decided that this was the best way to put the boot in. After all, both Shelley and Byron thought Keats expired in reaction to an unfavourable review of Endymion in the Quarterly Review. Fortunately the author concerned is made of sterner stuff.

4 Replies to “Revenge is a dish … or a warship?”

  1. A lot of trouble for a Top 1000 reviewer to go to for a book not liked. Does he worry that readers won’t read the sample, and might get stuck with the book? Anyone who doesn’t know by now that your first few reviews are probably 5* reviews from friends and family deserves what they download.

    And even I can guess that Manchurians are from Manchester.

    There are some books that tempt me to do this; I usually refrain. No, I ALWAYS refrain. There is enough unhappiness on the net already.

    This is typical: it takes 4-5* reviews to counteract a 1* review (to keep its rating above 4* average), so it is deliberate meanness.

  2. I thought it looked personal. If I can’t give a book 4* or better I don’t post; different people get different things out of books, and just because it didn’t speak to me isn’t sufficient reason for me to put the boot in.

  3. I just can’t pass up comments about reviews, especially one-star reviews, and particularly lengthy one-star reviews.

    Reviews are for other readers, either to share a good book or warn about a bad one, but readers are always free to disregard opinions thus expressed. But to refuse to rate a bad book because there is allegedly too much “unhappiness of the internet” or because it “didn’t speak” to you is rather cowardly. I would, therefore, view your four- or five-star reviews with immense distrust because I would think, and rightly so, that you can’t be critical in the correct sense of that word.

    I routinely write one-star reviews, and some of them are more than 1000 words. Why? Am I “putting the boot in?” Hardly. But in some of these Truly Awful Tomes there is so much that is wrong–historical inaccuracies, anachronisms, period-inappropriate names, info dumps, bad writing, clunky dialogue, and so forth –that a lengthy review with examples quoted directly from the offending–and offensive–novel is necessary. In other words, don’t just believe me, folks; look, here’s what this author actually wrote.

    So do I go to a lot of trouble? Indeed I do. Yet I’ll write a five-star review equally lengthy because the book was wonderful.

    When I stopped reviewing on Amazon last year, I was a Top 100 reviewer, which means a lot of people trusted what I had t say, good, bad, and indifferent. But you are certainly free to continue to review only what you love and let readers enter the minefield of Bad Books without your assistance.

    I’ll just continue on my happy, scathing. snarky way.

  4. I have to take issue with your blanket condemnation of “historical inaccuracies, anachronisms, period-inappropriate names”. Would you dismiss Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”? How about Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe”? Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Black Arrow” or “The White Company”? Or anything remotely Arthurian, which might range from Rosemary Sutcliff’s “Sword at Sunset” to Mary Stewart’s “Last Enchantment”? These are all works of fiction!

    I deduce that you were writing reviews of stuff that you were sent for free, which puts you in a different position to the majority of book-buyers. I try to spend my time and money on books that I expect to enjoy, and I am usually successful. That I don’t aspire to be an arbiter of taste does not diminish my critical abilities or the value of my opinions, should I choose to express them.

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