Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Do You Ever Read a Book You KNOW You Won't Like?

The title of this post sounds ridiculous at a glance. Seriously, who on earth would buy and read a book they know they aren't going to like? For that matter, who on earth would even read a free book or a discounted book they know they aren't going to like?

And we all know, for the most part, whether we're going to like a book or not. Of course there are cases where it's not always easy to tell and we wind up disappointed in something we thought would be better. It's happened to me. But usually the cover, the blurb, and the excerpt help us decide on whether or not a book is for us. If that fails, the reader reviews usually help make the final decision.

For example, I know I would never read a romance novel with a cover that had a woman with a flowing gown, a trite tag line that might do well in David Letterman's top ten list, and exaggerated font with curls at the end of each word (I wouldn't even have one visible in my home for guests to see). Even if I thought I might like a romance novel with a woman in a flowing gown, I would read the blurb and the excerpt just to be sure. Nine times out of ten the excerpt makes the decision for me. In books like this I usually see too many adverbs and said bookisms. And when I see more than one said bookism or adverb on the first page, that's the dealbreaker for me.

Now that's just my own personal taste. I prefer fiction that's tightly written, and practices word economy. I think this can be done in romance, and it can be done well. I've seen it done well. But the point of this post is that I wouldn't read the book with the woman in the gown, not even for free. I'm sure many would disagree. But it's just my own personal, subjective taste.

And yet I've seen something interesting happening in a few places on the Internet. I just don't get it. A book reviewer on a review site will read the first book in a series and hate it. They not only hate it, they roast the book, the author, and the publisher. And, it's usually done in that forced quasi snark way (I'm a bitch, oh yeah, that's me, funny-funny, slap-your-knee, haha, deal with it), with a mom and pop tone, that's almost funny but in this case would never make it to David Letterman's top ten list.

Of course there's nothing wrong with giving a bad review. I truly, deeply believe everyone has the right to review and express opinions about a book...or anything on the Internet, without question. I've left my own bad reviews that range from opinions about books to clothing I've purchased. But when the same book reviewer reads the second book, and then the third book in a series where she already HATED the first book, I have to wonder what the mind-set behind this is. What is motivating her to read something she clearly knows she will hate?

In other words, if you hated the first book in the series so much, the odds state you're not going to fall in love with the second book. The odds are the people who read the first review about the first book will not take a chance on buying the second book in the series either. The job has been done, so to speak. I would simply move on to a book that I KNOW I'm going to love...or at least a book I think I might like based on the information given to me. Life's too short to waste time doing things I KNOW I'm not going to like.

Maybe I'm missing something here. Maybe people who do things like this are such good, honest, decent, ethical people they want to give the second and third book in the series another chance. Maybe they are hoping they will love it so much they will be able to write a wonderful, positive review without the fake mom and pop snark and forced comedy that is beginning to get really tired on the Internet. Or maybe they just do it because all the world does love a clown...even a BAD clown. It's been said, and I paraphrase this from the old song, "Be a Clown," that if you can quack like a fucking duck the checks will keep coming.


Thommie said...

lol Ryan, have to admit it took me a while to see where you were getting into. I can only give you my pov for you question. Say I read a book, the author has a somehow good name on the market so I read the 1st book of the series and yes I'm dissapointed. Not only that, but I literally have to force my self to end the damn book so that I can review it. Hard thing to do when it is not well-written right? But when the 2nd book would be out I would go and read that one too. Even if I know that chances stand I'll dislike it yet again, I'll give a chance to the said author. Perhaps the 1st book was just a mishap and the next of the series will make up for that. While I'm not a writer, I very well know that we often have our bad moments, so maybe, I would think, this was just a bad moment for the author. I wouldn't like to flame her/his work based on a single book.

But I do agree with you on the point that the said reviewr actually burried the author/publisher in the 1st review and then continued ... what? doing it again? Not good. Even if the work of someone is absolutely horrible, we as readers and reviewrs ought to focus on that and that alone, not personaly attack people just for the fun of it.

ryan field said...

That was the point. I've written bad reviews myself. But I've seen things that are more like circus side shows, waving freak flags, than anything else. And I think as the Internet grows, and more people in the mainstream start using it for more things, the level of professionalism will get better in time. Right now we're on the line of change. A lot of those old time Internet snark things are getting tired now. It's just not funny anymore.