I’ve been thinking a lot about unhelpful reviews and why they are unhelpful. I believe I have found some key phrases that appear in 1 & 2-star reviews that are completely pointless without explanation. So have a Top 10.
10. It was poorly written. – I need an explanation of this. Was it the editing that was poorly done? Or was there actually something about the writing, like it was in a foreign language? We all understand “well written,” but I have yet to figure out what “poorly written” actually means. Perhaps it just wasn’t your type of book? I think romance novels are poorly written, but I don’t like romance, so it’s an opinion.
9. I found it confusing. – With an explanation, this is fine… but as I read and review more novels, I’m finding this phrase as a stand-alone sentence. What did you find confusing? The plot? The characters? The subplots? The language? The genre? Don’t tell me it’s confusing, explain why it’s confusing or I’m just going to wonder if you’re an idiot too thick to follow the breadcrumbs left by the author.
8. I didn’t like this book. – Again, fine with an explanation, without it… I’m sorry you didn’t like this book, but why do I care?
7. Not what I expected. – What did you expect? Did you read the blurb? Is the blurb wrong? Am I buying a book that touts itself to be an action-packed, hard-core thriller when it is really a romance novel with two fight scenes and lots of talk about feelings and the characters touching each other?!?! (I actually found this review for a book I recently read: ”This was not what I expected. I read the book and didn’t like it. Don’t buy it if you don’t want to be disappointed.” Since I had just read the book, I reread the blurb and the blurb matched the book. I found it completely useless as a review, however, it was an Amazon Verified Purchase… so, um, yeah.)
6. It seemed too realistic. - Huh? Isn’t that part of the appeal of a book? You must suspend some disbelief, but not all of it. You don’t watch many movies or TV either, do you?
5. I rarely give low reviews. - This is a two-part statement. A) Why did you hate this particular book? B) If I go look at the rest of the reviews you’ve given, what will I find? (Recently, I found this statement in a book by a friend of mine. Just out of curiosity, I went and checked out all their other reviews. The particular person had reviewed over 200 books, none of them had been given more than 3-stars and all of them said this exact same thing: I rarely give low star ratings to books, but I just didn’t like this one.)
4. It was too unrealistic. - Which part? And it is fiction… Much like #6, we must suspend some disbelief. It should have some realism, but it also requires us to ignore some of the more conventional notions we hold. Men do fly in books… with wings… while eating chicken salad sandwiches… and wearing dresses with nothing under them.
3. I don’t know why this book has so many good reviews. - Because not everyone is you, that’s why. Different people like different things.
2. I think this book is too expensive. - Huh? Too expensive compared to what? Are you trying to say it isn’t worth the money? Or are you lamenting spending the $2.99 or whatever for it because it meant you had to eat a chicken salad sandwich for lunch instead of Chinese take-out? Now, I’m confused.
1. This was a waste of my time. - Let me assure you, I hated Anna Karenina… like more than you can imagine, hated it. I hated it so much that not only was I disappointed that Anna didn’t throw herself under the train in the first chapter, but I was crushed that when she did finally throw herself under the train, she didn’t take more of the cast with her; like Levin. Levin could have gone. However, it wasn’t a waste of my time. No book has ever been a waste of time. I have learned something from all of them. For instance, I learned from Anna Karenina, that I actually hated Tolstoy and not just War & Peace. I also learned that sometimes, it’s ok to cheer when a character dies.
Bonus: As I waited to post this, I was sent a message about a review someone I knew had just gotten. This is the review: I have now read six books by this author and I have hated them all. I do not recommend reading them. - But you’ve bothered with 6 of them? Really? That’s dedicated dislike. I only read 2 Tolstoy novels and realized that I never wanted to read another. By the way, when they release their 7th book, will be pre-ordering it?