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Rambling About Reviews

I was discussing rejections the other day, and kind of chuckling over one rejection (for SAY THE WORD) that stated they "loved the story except for the plot and the characters.” No kidding—that’s practically verbatim. The conversation turned to reviews, and I was asked, “Does it bother you when you get bad reviews?”

Hmm. I guess it does, though it doesn’t keep me awake at night. I mean, we all work very, very hard on our novels. Naturally we want readers to like our stories. Though we expect our books to be reviewed in a professional way, we have to take into account who is doing the review. Though editorial reviews, in a professional sense, are probably the most important, there are also a lot of blogger reviewers I respect; a lousy review from one of them wouldn’t exactly make me jump for joy.

Recently I discovered three reviews of STW on a very prominent YA review site. All 3 (written by teens, I’m fairly certain) and it would’ve been nice to see one positive review on that (highly active) site. Also, not being a Google-Alert addict, I’m sure there are more out there I don’t even know about. I hope the many excellent reviews STW has received far outweigh the crummy ones—but why expend valuable energy worrying about it?

Anyway, this led me to Goodreads to check out other reviews—in a curious-but-unmasochistic-way—where I discovered several amusing tidbits.

“I didn’t like the main character Shawna and her multiple personalities – I’m pretty sure that she was schizophrenic.”

Well, I’m pretty sure a psychologist didn’t write this; she would know A. that Shawna did not have a mental illness, and B. schizophrenia has nothing to do with multiple personalities.

“The heroine is still using some sort of email system that would leave messages on her hard drive where her father can find them. Why would she not have Yahoo or Gmail like everyone else? Why isn't she using social networking sites? And why oh why can't she just empty her computer's Recycle Bin?”

Because, as anyone who watches Law and Order, Forensic Files, etc., knows, nothing is ever erased from your hard drive unless someone goes in and erases it—something a typical 17-year-old girl isn’t about to do.* It’s also something her father probably wouldn’t do either, but considering that he opens her mail and God knows what else, it makes sense that she’d be suspicious. Would Shawna really trust Gmail to “delete forever” every single one of her e-mails? I doubt it. I also addressed the reason Shawna didn’t belong to a social network, but apparently this reviewer skimmed right past that.

* If I'm wrong about that hard drive thing, please let me know and I'll be happy to concede.

“People that would hate this book would be people who are not so interested in lives of other people.”

I can’t even remember if this was good review or a bad review. Guess I should’ve checked out the number of stars.

And I posted this one on FB a couple weeks ago. It’s currently my favorite, mostly because--again--I can’t tell if it’s positive or negative: "There is nothing in this book that I disliked, other than most of the characters.”

It’s true: I can find humor in anything. And, because these are reader-reviewers, I do want to say, whether you liked it or not: Thank you for reading my book. <3 I sincerely mean that.

OK. What I really object to is when a reviewer inserts his or her own beliefs/prejudices/whatever into the review. For instance, when a reviewer says they wouldn’t have done such-and-such. Well, no, you wouldn’t---but this particular character did, and if it wasn’t out of character, why lower your overall rating of the book? Hello, am I writing about you?

Another reviewer disliked the whole gay/lesbian theme, which doomed the review from the get-go. But didn’t they know what it was about before they decided to review it? Um, flap copy, folks. Oughta check it out sometime.

Then there was the reviewer who lambasted STW because of a scene where Shawna drinks while driving a car. She was Utterly Appalled that Shawna suffered no consequences for this, i.e. I didn't make her plow her car into a tree or run through a crosswalk of kindergartners. I do not, by any means, advocate drinking and driving—but the fact is, people do make bad choices all the time, and no, they dont always suffer any consequences. If I made my characters suffer each time they made a bad decision or did something wrong…well, they’d all be dead and buried before the end of the first draft. And there would be no book.


We are most amused. :)


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 19th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
Is it bad that I laughed at Shawna plowing through a bunch of kindergarteners? I mean, I probably wouldn't laugh if that was in the book but because you had it as a possible alternative to the No Consequences review, it was funny.

OK, I'm going to hell. Moving on...

I LOVED Say the Word and am so excited for your new book!

I also love the rejection letter you got. I mean, what's left after those two are taken out? lol.
Apr. 19th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
That's what I was wondering... :D Maybe they liked the setting???
Apr. 19th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
A. I HATE when people confuse DID and Schizophrenia. I know and have worked with people with both of these disorders and they are so very, very different. Also, DID is very rare and very frightening. Having a manic child on your hands for forty five minutes is beyond arduous.

B. Regarding the wonderful world of rejections. My favourite after a full: "I love your main character and world but wasn't drawn in enough to take it on". Finding out what exactly to work on after that has been a long, deep journey.

Apr. 19th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
I don't think they should use the word "love" if they don't really mean it. Obviously if they "loved" it, they'd take it, don't you think?
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 19th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
I absolutely am! And in a shockingly good mood for a change. :)
Apr. 19th, 2011 06:30 pm (UTC)
How can one love a book, yet hate the characters, the storyline, and every word in between? I know that I hate Wuthering Heights. I hate the characters, I hate the storyline, I hate everything about it. I would never say I loved that book.

As a reader-reviewer, I try to take an editorial approach, but sometimes my brain doesn't work well. Maybe the reviewer is schizophrenic? :) If I don't like a book, it's not because it's not well-written, somehow or another, I just didn't connect with it. Even as a writer there must be something out there that you don't like (Twilight anyone?).

Queen Victoria is highly amusing:) Until we kill off her beloved hubby:)
Apr. 19th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
I've always been of the mind that you can like a book without liking the main characters. But Wuthering Heights isn't one of them. It made a much better movie. And even then I disliked the main characters. :)
Apr. 19th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
As much as reviews like that suck, at least you can find amusement in them! :)

That one rejection is so mind-boggling, though. I can understand loving a book despite hating the characters, or loving a book despite hating the plot, but loving it despite hating both those things at the same time?!

*ponders how this might be possible*

*brain dies*
Apr. 20th, 2011 12:46 am (UTC)
Sometimes you just gotta laugh. :) :)
Apr. 20th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
One lady dug out a fancy card, tracked down my address, and, in beautiful script, wrote what appeared to be a string of compliments about my book Cowboy Camp. Then she began attacking me b/c, in the book, Black Bart arrives to put a stop to Cowboy Dan and his Cowboy Camp. Avery, the main character, tricks Black Bart into thinking he arrived at the wrong camp and, in doing so, ends up saving Cowboy Camp from the clutches of the baddest bad guy in the wild west. The lady was SHOCKED that I used lying as a solution. She actually wanted me to CALL HER and give her my reasoning.
Apr. 20th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
I guess if Black Bart were after that lady with a gun, and he asked you to point her out to him, she'd expect you to tell him the truth...right? Haha. People slay me.
Apr. 20th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
I have long wanted to write some kind of story about two people who make the same bad decision, with one facing life shattering consequences and the other facing none. I've just never come across a way of handling the topic that appealed.

Rinne is my favorite of your characters so far, although Martha will always have a special place in my heart. :)
Apr. 21st, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
You should totally do it! xox

Apr. 21st, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC)
If I ever sell another book I think I might just adopt a policy of not reading reviews.
Apr. 26th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
I hear ya, girlfriend.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


Jeannine Garsee

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