Sunday, March 30, 2014

Good Books, Bad Reviewers

When I find a good book that I think other people will enjoy, I'm always quick to talk about it and recommend it. After all, it's why I started my blog. I like a variety of books and genres, so I'm pretty much game for anything - depending on my mood and how much time I have to read. I am aware, though, that not all readers are like me. I always consider this when I give a review.

Here's what I didn't consider, when reading someone else's book review, until now...

Some readers, in today's day and age, don't have the patience to enjoy a truly good book. If you don't believe me, you should note what books are "popular" these days. The fact that a certain series of books about an ignorant girl and a vampire became SO popular a few years ago they had to be turned into movies people actually stood in long lines to see...(sigh)...well, that should tell you something.

Do you think I sound too harsh? I hope so.

Let me clarify.

There is nothing wrong with a quick, easy read, if that's what you're up for. I always tell my students I am happy with them reading anything as long as they're reading. Of course, they are in the sixth grade. I'm not saying the same thing doesn't apply to adults, but I wish the adults who are ONLY looking for quick, easy reads with very little depth, would not write reviews on Amazon. Perhaps,...there should be a requirement that the reviewer list a few books they've read in the past? At least, that way, people who read their review would know what kind of reader they are. For instance, if I knew the only trilogy you've ever read is Fifty Shades of Grey, I would know how to receive your review of another trilogy, say,...The Lord of the Rings. See how helpful that would be? 

(Do you feel the build-up coming for a bit of a rage from me? You should.)

As much as I read, I've never written a book review for Amazon before. This morning, however, I received a request in my email to write one. I had a little time before starting my day, so I thought I'd give it a go. After all, I loved the book I had just finished, and I was happy to share my rating and words with Amazon readers. (By the way, I DO love Amazon! Have I ever mentioned that?) :)

After I wrote my review about a great book by an author who weaves a really good tale, I read reviews from other people about the same book. The reviews I saw MUST have been written by all those vampire tale readers! The complaints about the book sounded like a bunch of my sixth grade students whining that the book was too long or too complicated or too...what? Too much reading?? Some of the reviews said it was too many characters, too many sub-plots, and half-way through they didn't care anymore.

I was shocked!

First of all, none of the things they said are true. Now, if you're thinking it's just my opinion - well, of course, it's my opinion - but I beg to differ that it's "just" my opinion. You see, while I read for pleasure, I can't help but read with a critical eye. First, I am good reader. Second, at my heart, I am a writer. Third, I am an English teacher. Fourth, and foremost, I am a good reader,...and I was a good reader long before I was any of those other things. I have read enough books to be able to make a fair comparison among authors and genres. I feel like some of the reviewers on Amazon have only read paranormal teenage romances and decided to read a "grown-up" book and review it. Geez...

When an author is weaving a good tale, and not some one-dimensional "I need a male, and it doesn't matter if he is dead or alive, be he vampire or werewolf, he is the reason for my existence" kind of story, it takes a little time (and a few pages) to set the stage, introduce the characters, and get the conflict going. That being said, I have read good books before that I say to people, "It's a good book, but you have to get through the first 75 pages before the story really picks up and gets going." Now, those aren't usually my favorite kind, but I am a patient reader. 

The book I reviewed on Amazon, however, was not one of those. I didn't need any patience to get through it. It moved along at a good pace for the type of mystery it was. The book pulled me in immediately, and I found myself up far too late at night (and ignoring papers that needed grading) to find out what happened next. I love it when I can't figure out the mystery before the author reveals it!

I guess I feel that, nowadays, many adults are too much like my impatient sixth graders. Grown adults would rather read the newsfeed on their social media and live life in posts, blurbs, and blogs rather than read anything with any real substance to it. They don't want to think when they read.

And what really worries me.

And, quite frankly, since we all share this world, should concern you, too.

(If you're interested in my review of the book I just finished, I'll be posting it here later this afternoon. Right now, I have to go to work and grade those papers I ignored because I was so anxious to finish the good book.) 

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