Monday, April 28, 2008

amazon one-star meme

A bit of a change from answering questions today. I've decided to echo Kelley's echo of John Scalzi's challenge. Included here is every single one-star amazon review of every single one of my novels.

Most of my amazon critics (I use the term loosely) are wordy bastards, so I've only included excerpts of most of them. Links are to the amazon.com page of each novel.

It's interesting to put them all together like this and watch patterns emerge. Lots of skiffy readers, it seems, are really disappointed at the notion of lesbians tromping through their nice heterosexual genre. Lots of readers wish Aud were less...Aud-like. I'm interested in what patterns others might see, if any. Let me know.

Meanwhile, enjoy:

Always:

This book was too long and the author was too verbose. I really lost interest by the last half of the book and had to force myself to finish. I do think the author shows a great deal of knowledge about martial arts and self defense, I think it would be good for women to pay attention to this information in the book but overall this book was a snooze fest.

Stay:

This is a poor novel based on two dubious premises.
The first is that grief should be overcome through extreme violence.

- and -

I am surprised that Ms Griffith was happy to put her own name to this novel (she is a multiple award winning author) and also very surprised (and depressed) to find that this is a worse novel than "The Blue Place." Ms Griffith has, I believe, defended the Blue Place by saying that some critics failed to understand that Aud Torvingen doesn't enjoy violence, she enjoys winning. Winning in combat is by definition about inflicting superior violence, a tautology that Ms Griffith avoids openly confronting. However, the toning down of violence in Stay, and the attempts to rehabilitate Aud as a less macho character indicate that she has tacitly accepted the comments of those critics she purports to dismiss. That's dishonest, isn't it?

The Blue Place:

Whatever your politics or orientation might be, I am confused on how anyone can call this a great or even a good book. I am doubly confused by people who call this book a great feminist book. In my opinion, it is neither. The plot is simplistic. The characters are flat with little real depth, only cartoonish depth. The murders and other general violence that occur in the book are needlessly gruesome and overdone. The action is boring. [...] Like many romance novels, the level of writing just isn't very good. And that is what I'm basing my review on.
- and-

I'm sorry but this book went nowhere. It was dull, the characters were hard to decipher and the story line was confusing. I liked Aud but the author's writing style just could not keep my interest. She created a fascinating character in Aud but for some reason she let her get lost in whatever mystery she was trying to create. This was one dull, boring book.

- and -

This is one of the most boring books I've ever read. I ordered it from a recommendation from friends and I can't understand its appeal. The book is almost always going on a tangent, and it feels like a bad travel log in many places. The love story between the two women feels forced. The action is slow. The "lethal" Aud Torvingen never does anything to justify that reputation for lethality other than scowl at a collection of cartoon bad guys. [...] the end feels tacky, slow, and pointless.
- and -

At times I wasn't sure if I were the recipient of a self-defence lecture or reading a travel guide. The narrative style kept changing. It was as if the author was trying to prove how worldly, historically savvy, and philosophically in touch her haunted character was.

- and -

A Xena type fantasy set in Norway and Atlanta.

Slow River:

I read so many good things but even if I had not, I would have been disappointed...it is slow, the characters are cold, there is no excitement in the first 100 pages (I did not finish- I had to grit my teeth to get that far)...it was dull dull dull.

- and -

This is one of the most boring science fiction novels I have ever read. The story just kind of plods along. I may as well of stared at a wall for a few hours as to have read this. Avoid. It's overrated. Nebula award? Oh boy.

- and -

i was very disappointed in the book, and amazed that it won a nebula. the science fiction aspects are minimal and mainly related to near-future waste management methods. the narrative borrows split-time techniques developed and far better utilized by many others. the story line is obsessed with graphic lesbian encounters. perhaps i was spoiled by having read 3 phillip k dick classics and gene wolfe's masterpiece "the fifth head of cereberus" before this, but this seems like a minor work of limited interest and a short shelf-life. spend your money and time elsewhere. be alerted: several aspects of the book are frankly explicit.

- and -

Unless you are a perverted 13 year old looking to get aroused, don't waste your time. And if you _are_ a 13 year old looking to get aroused, you may find looking at pornography to be more fun, unless you're also doing research on Futuristic Sewage Processing Plant Techniques which also takes up a large portion of the book. [...] The only reason this book has won awards at all is because the literary community is being politically strongarmed into some crazy form of affirmative action for lesbians and gays.

- and -

I've seen from another reviewer, "be warned", written Feb 4, 2003, that gave this novel 1 star, received only 3 out of 27 useful review notations; way more feedback than most other reviews. So what does that mean, that 24 lesbians have commented on that review? This review is specifically for science fiction readers. Personally I should never have to be writing this review because I should never have read this book. But this novel was awarded the Nebula award in 1996 and I was under the idiotic notion that the Nebula was awarded to the BEST science fiction novel of the year, and so I read this book, and thus a review under that context is justified. If one cannot accept criticism or an opinion differing from their own, well what does that say,... what does that say about the tolerance of lesbianism.
Ammonite:

The only reason this book got a prize, is that the category of lesbian SF is very small. The "science" in the book is new-age mumbo-jumbo. The book contradicts itself and is inconsistent.The story is a lesbian dream of a world with children, but without men.
- and -

The whole book seemed to be written for lesbian sci-fi readers. Way too much "women ruling the world" and doing a better job garbage. The actual sci-fi parts were good but that counted for only 30 pages or so.


I believe (and have said many times, for example, here) that books are just blueprints of stories, shells, rather like sketches of a house rather than the building itself. The buyer brings her own experience/taste/life furniture, and creates the final dwelling place. Everyone reads a different book. So I generally don't take it personally when readers don't like/don't get my work. But seeing so many lavishly detailed criticisms in a row is rather disheartening. Oh, not because of what that says about my books but because of what it says about people. The willingness to devote so much time and energy to a novel that one doesn't like is...puzzling.

Print

14 comments:

  1. I found this project interesting because I write reviews. However, I do not review books I do not like. One reason is I will not finish a book if I don't like it. I prefer to point readers toward books they will enjoy. That said, I have posted several negative reviews at Amazon, but in both cases I was enraged. One was a review of a tea book by someone who knew nothing about tea. The other involved an editor who allowed the writer of an introduction to a classic to savage the book I was about to read. Both still make me angry! But, generally, phooey on negative reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  2. But isn't it interesting to see what enrages people? All those skiffy readers being appalled at lesbians tracking filth through their nice clean genre; the one who was cross because Aud wasn't Lore; the ones who think women shouldn't be physically violent...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't particularly find the reviews on Amazon to be helpful or informative. The lack of transparency leads me to believe that the reviewer has an agenda and I have to say reading the ones you posted here, it certainly feels that way.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I generally like the longer, more thoughtful amazon.com reviews, the 4-star ones are usually the best. The one- and two-stars do drip with agenda juice.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am often very creative when annoyed (although usually that happens on UseNET). Some people are just inspired by their negative responses to things more than by positive ones.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Inspired. Interesting.

    It seems to me that sometimes anger frees us from constraint, gives us a clarity we might might lack--or feel we lack--otherwise. Is that what you mean by inspiration? Or am I missing the point?

    And it still prompts the question: why?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow. Your negative comments are a lot more verbose and specific than most of the ones on other authors who have done this same thing.

    I haven't read the books and cannot comment. But, about violence... I have to say, I'd prefer that nobody should be unnecessarily violent - male, female, or any other gender.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes. I was struck when I went to collect these one-stars how long they were.

    I'm with you on the violence, but the key word is 'unnecessarily'...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I actually do use the reviews on Amazon. I used to think I could tell by the way the review was written whether or not the reviewer could be relied on, but then I hit several where that didn't work for me. Usually I can work out a fairly good sense of the book from the reviews though. Too many 5 stars makes me suspicious.

    I really don't get the long one stars although they are kind of humorous (if not just plain stupid). Why keep reading if they hated it so much? I wouldn't waste the time on the book or the review if there were not something there for me. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Especially interesting since they often put a tremendous amount of energy into vilifying the author.

    I rather like the ones which say what it is about the characters or the writing style or the plot that they dislike. That's actually useful for deciding if I want to read something.

    ReplyDelete
  11. JenniferD: I know. If a book suck so hard, why finish it? One review I had for STAY was particularly malicious, and from their remarks, the reader had access to an ARC. I have a feeling I know who it is but it's a fool's game to respond to these things. Life is too short.

    foomf: I agree. There have been times when a thoughtful criticism--usually a 2- or 3-star--helps me understand the book more than the 5-star raves.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Do you think people would still leave such unpleasant reviews on Amazon if they had to use their real names?

    Although I got hammered recently by someone who used her real name--and, little does she know, I am now her enemy and have vowed to thwart her..... ;-)

    EEW

    ReplyDelete
  13. EEW: I think there would be fewer vitriolic reviews, yes, if real names were demanded, but I also think they'd be longer and more vicious, because the writers would want to look 'smarter' and 'funnier'. But, yep, I think I know who one of my one-star reviewers is. And I am now his enemy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh man that is pretty great; I really can't get enough of how "graphic" it is to have romance between two women. Only a 13 year old could like it! Apparently.

    ReplyDelete