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8.25.2009

Criticism

Reviewing books is a recent habit that I picked up after reading a wonderful new author that I just wanted to tell the world about. My reviews were short, a paragraph or two and all of them were posted on amazon.com. I started noticing that people would hit the not helpful button on them though, so I began expanding on my critiques and some people seemed to like them. Its not like a have a following, in fact if two people (sans my husband and mom) read this I'll be happy.

I do it because I like to read and I like to write...so lets write about reading. It is how I picked my career (I like computers, I like art - viola - graphic designer). I didn't do this to antagonize or show off my superiority. A critique is a person's opinion on the item being critiqued, whether it is a piece of artwork, a dance, a song, or a work of fiction.

When I read Vulnerable by Amy Lane I was severely disappointed in the book and actually felt cheated. Cheated that I spent money on something that I believed to be very badly written. I would compare it to my recent purchase of a "Slip & Slide" for my daughter. We were soooo excited, we unpacked it, laid it out, got the soap and were just jumping up and down in our excitement. I hooked the hose up to the built in sprinkler and turned the hose on....and the darn thing just exploded! Utter waste of 8.95, 1 hour set up time and a crying 2 year old - and I can't return it because its soaking wet and there was no way I was getting it back in that box.

I believe that the author thought that my review was a personal attack on her, or she just can't take criticism. She actually trolls the boards on amazon, commenting and critiquing herself. I've never actually seen anything like it, but maybe that is her way of self promoting the books. I thought her response to my review was uncalled for and actually was more an attack on me, and actually called in to question my morals and state-of-mind. I don't mind though, I've been called worse things...and her response was actually very well written. Obviously her writing style has grown since she has written Vulnerable. The only fact that I felt uncomfortable was the fact that she was railing on me at all. Amazon.com reviews are what they are, they are a way for the regular, everyday reader to let people know what they thought...if every author was stalking their books, getting nasty with everyone that left a bad review...going on their profiles...do you think amazon.com would get many bad reviews??? No it would be a site of 4-5 stars. Well enough of my ranting, here is Amy Lane's comment on my review - I think it gives you an idea of who she is.

"Mmmm... well yes, your tone does reveal that you don't like the book, but you're pretty sketchy on the details as to why. As for the editing? Well, you admit you were warned--and apologized to--in advance. Otherwise, you do a fine and very literate job of being snide as you outline the plot, but you never really tell us what's wrong with it. You mention the characters--and their designations--with rolled eyes, but you're never clear as to whether you think their roles are trite, over-the-top, unbelievable, or a combination of the three. You simply expect the reader of the review to agree with your tone without substantiating sarcasm and nastiness with anything other than (admittedly) some very nice prose. You state that it is 'your opinion'--and yet, besides the fact that you didn't like the book (and hello, hit me on the head with a hammer, my ears might bleed less) you give no solid, single flaw besides the editing on which to base your opinion. You mention the narrative device--that's not a flaw, or at least William Faulkner and James Joyce didn't think so. It's just that--a narrative device. Like it or leave it. You mention the schism between Cory's literate thoughts and her speech--that's actually addressed in book two. It was done intentionally--many intelligent people 'code-switch' in an environment that doesn't respect intelligence--my heroine is no different.

You claim to be a PNR reader. I never claimed this book is PNR--in fact, I've been pretty public in saying that it's Urban Contemporary Fantasy, which is very different. Did you have a problem with the vampires? The elves? The sex? The bloody deaths? The same sex or menage aspects? Or did you just find a (or 'yet another', if I've read your profile right) book that you didn't like and entertain yourself by trying to share your misery? I'm used to reviews--both good and bad, legit and fraudulent--and I recognize when someone is trying to get personal in the review.

This review was personal--not aimed at me, certainly, since we don't know each other--but it meant something to you to show how superior your writing is when compared to mine. I admit that you turn a very pretty phrase--I'm not so sure about the prettiness of your mind or if I'd want to read the story your heart would tell.

The 'gushing' reviews are also just other people's opinions. They are sincere--they deserved more respect than your review gave them. There is a difference between 'stating' an opinion and implying that yours is better and an opposing opinion (i.e. a 'gushing review') is inferior to yours. You've really done the latter. It wasn't particularly nice of you.

I'm going to sign off now--I don't usually pay so much attention to negative reviews. I get enough kind words and thanks to counterbalance them, and I'm pretty happy with that. (The nice lady who told me that she named her son after one of my characters, for instance. I think her name will live in my memory long after yours.) I just get very defensive for the people who are fans of the work. I felt as though your review was insulting to them, and I couldn't let it stand.

And don't worry--I won't reply or take dup anymore of your time. You're obviously a person with things to do.

Amy Lane"

Comment posted on Amazon.com under my review.

5 comments:

Stephanie said...

It's a bad sign when an author is apologizing in advance for her book's flaws. Does that give her immunity from criticism?

ParaJunkee said...

The whole experience taught me 1 lesson - stay away from self-published.

Fionen said...

I would think a self published author would be used to rejection. I guess not. *rolls eyes*

Bunny Cates, bunnycates.com said...

I realize this is an old post, but WOW. I think the money she spent on self publishing would have been better spent on a thicker skin.

I read your review. It was, in my opinion, a bad review of her book but certainly not a bad review. I think if more reviewers were willing to write "real" reviews, less people would jump on the self publishing band wagon. They would certainly work a little harder at honing the project before tossing it out to the masses.

Lamia (The Book Eater) said...

Wow. Needless to say, I will never touch any of this author's books. What a mean, catty person.
Your review was very good, and if every author started commenting on bad reviews on amazon/goodreads, I don't think they owuld have a lot of readers left...

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