Thursday, September 13, 2012

Amazon Reviews - Are they worth reading?

Earlier today I was researching titles for a craft list I’m putting together for writers looking to improve their skills. I decided to send a recommendation to a friend while I was on the Amazon site, and popped over to the Kindle store to send her links to the set of books. While there, I thought I’d have a look at some of the reviews of the two titles, and quite frankly, that’s why I’m writing this blog. What I saw in terms of ignorance and just plain nastiness was really sickening.

Every author gets bad reviews, I often pay little to no attention to them anymore because like all art and interpretation, it’s as varied as the individuals who comment or snark. What I see on Amazon much of the time is a disturbing form of bullying in some ways–readers who run and grab books when publishers offer them for free, then they proceed to trash the author and the book they’ve been given purely as a promotional gift. I’m not an advocate of silencing all negative reviews, but honestly people, if your purpose is to simply exercise your “power” to say shit about the work and try to discourage others, get over yourself–and try remember what your mother should have taught you about not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice or positive. I actually saw a review on one of my books that said the five star reviews must have been written by friends of the author…and honestly, they weren’t! That kind of bitchiness is just part of what’s wrong with allowing any and all to “review” books on a site like Amazon.

What pissed me off today had nothing to do with my books, but with two titles that are quite frankly among the most lyrical and beautifully written books I’ve encountered in many years: Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture, by Sylvain Reynard. I was looking at the “one-star” reviews–and we’ll use the term review very loosely in this instance, since the truth is they were nothing more than bitchy snarks for people complaining mostly about the fact that the books didn’t have sex or BDSM. Several people were whinging on about how the books weren’t like Fifty Shades, even. What a joke! Yeah, they weren’t badly written, plagiarized crap that was barely researched and insulting to thinking women everywhere. These books are about a love story, told with subtle skill and lyrical language. They are intelligent, thoughtful stories of a passionate, dangerous love affair.

Before anyone has a coronary over my statement about Fifty Shades, bear in mine, I have read the books, and reviewed them with fairness, not bitchy snarks–and I’ve discussed them in psychological terms, as well as literary terms. One of the biggest failings of the novels is the careless manner in which they address dangerous behaviours and the negative messages they send to women everywhere.

Sylvain Reynard’s books may not be to everyone’s taste, and that’s true of every novel ever written, but I really DO resent the shit that is written about work by authors who are gifted storytellers. If sex is why you buy a book, don’t pretend to be a literary critic–there are a million books out there that will cater to your needs. Stating you want your money back makes you look like the crass moron you are, and those who follow you and repeat that shit mentality simply prove their ignorance, as well. Be balanced when you write a review, assuming you know how to be, and most of all, if all you have to offer is a negative statement based on your need to exercise your right to be an ass–don’t bother.

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