The other day, I wrote an admittedly biting review of The Prince by Kiera Cass. I went into it knowing I would probably not enjoy it, and I didn't. You could argue this isn't fair of me, and in some ways you could be right. I was pretty clear in the review that there is something about the series that keeps me reading, to their credit, which is why I read The Prince. I was hoping to like it. But I've also been pretty clear about the fact that I review every book I read except for the ones I don't finish. And that means I'm going to post critical reviews, because I will always express the way I feel. I'm not going to lie about my feelings for a book. And it just so happens I naturally express myself in jokes.
|How some people see me|
|This is also not me (okay maybe it's me a little bit)|
A book review blog is meant to review books. I'm more critical than the average person, and my job here as a reviewer is to point out to people what I felt worked about a book and what I felt didn't. I'm here to help other readers make informed decisions, even when I know a lot of people aren't going to agree with me. This is why it's great that there's such a variety of bloggers. You get as many varying opinions as you need to help guide you in the direction of books that will work for you. Before picking up a book, I always make sure to read negative AND positive AND in-between reviews. Because all of those opinions are valid. All of those opinions are correct.
The problem with this, though, is that I can get pretty mean. I'm aware of that. I've always thought published material, sent out into the world to be judged on its own merits, is eligible for whatever snarkery it incurs, but not all people agree. I get that. We're all human beings, and all creativity should be rewarded, not discouraged, right?
How much hate is too much hate? That's a personal question, of course, and everybody will have a different answer. I'm in the camp of people who don't believe in critical kid gloves. I believe that humor at the expense of a book is fair game (humor at the expense of the AUTHOR is a different story). I am also in the camp of people who think it is significantly MORE hateful to go on somebody else's blog and tell that person that they suck, that they're a bitch, that they should leave poor Author X alone, and that the blogging world would be better off without them.
|Getting mean emails gives me the sads.|
That, my friends, is the kind of internet hate I don't like.
When I post my negative reviews on Twitter, I never @reply the author with a link to my review. I do not go on the author's website and tell them how much I hated their book. I do not go to fan-sites or forums or tumblrs and tell the people there that I think their bookish opinions are stupid. Because they AREN'T. They just happen to deviate from mine, and that's okay.
I'll admit: I've got a snarky streak a mile wide. I LOVE ripping on books, movies, TV shows, and acquaintances who tick me off. I know that's probably not a serious virtue in my character, but it is what it is. I don't purposefully review books in the hopes that they are terrible and I get to savage them on the internet (except for Modelland, but that is barely even a real book). If I read a book I hate, you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to make fun of it in my review. I like humor. I'm going to make jokes. You can like it or lump it.
What you can't do is send me anonymous vitriol in email form. This is cyber-bullying. It doesn't matter how justified you feel, or how much you love the book I hate. Please, please, PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS.
|Anderson does not approve.|
A sampling of the super fun, super real comments I've received as of late:
i dont find sense in the things you say here. sorry, but your being a mean bitch here. please think about the authors you are hurting with your mean words. as if you could write any better than that
I think my favorite parts of that email were the sorry and the please. Your rudeness is so polite.
WHY did you feel the need to post such a vicious review on the internet? Don't you think there is enough hate floating out there? WHY do you feel the need to contribute more hate? I am sorry, but I will no longer be following your reviews. I am disgusted by this. As a lover of [book title redacted], I am deeply offended on behalf of the author.
This particular email has some sense in it (and also a basic command of grammar), even if those words did hurt. Yes, there is a lot of hate floating out there, and it's not my intention to contribute more of it. But I think going out of your way to send a message like this to a perfect stranger is a much more personal form of hate.
YOU ARE STUPID FOR THINKING THIS BOOK IS BAD. IT IS A BRILLIANT BOOK AND YOU OBVIOUSLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT A GOOD BOOK IS. I BET YOUR BOOKS WILL BE CRAP I HOPE YOU ARE PUBLISHED AND SOMEDAY SOMEONE WRITES A NASTY REVIEW OF YOUR BOOK AND I WILL LAUGH
The hypocrisy in this one is astounding. Not only is it ridiculous (I obviously don't understand what a good book is?!?!?!), but do you really not see that you are bashing someone for writing a negative review by advocating for someone to write another negative review? And also, I agree with you. I also hope I am published! I hope my future book is well-read enough that someone out there will write something horrible about it. Because, as said, books are not hundred dollar bills. No book is universally beloved. There will always be haters. Will bad reviews hurt? Undoubtedly. I'm a sensitive flower. I want people to like me and the words I write. But all a bad review means is I did something wrong in my writing.
"The novel is a prose narrative of some length that has something wrong with it." --Samuel Johnson
Also, notice a trend here? I am not getting angry emails from authors, or publishers, or agents, not even for the books I have received for review from said publishers. My review for Confessions of an Angry Girl, written after I received an ARC from Harlequin Teen, had a healthy dose of criticism. Harlequin Teen read the review and then retweeted it, saying they enjoyed reading it. Because, by weighting out the good AND the bad, I helped a lot of people decide whether that book was the book for them.
I want books to be good. I looooove books. Books are the be-all and end-all of my life. The vast majority of my reviews are positive because I'm pretty good at picking out books that I'm going to like. Sometimes, I get it wrong, of course, and sometimes I may go too far in critiquing a book I don't like. And I am sorry if I offend any of my readers, I truly am. That is not my intention. I want to make perfectly clear that I respect different bookish opinions. Everybody brings a lifetime's worth of thoughts, memories, and feelings to every book they read. Because of that, no two people will feel exactly the same way about a book. It's just impossible. A romance that may make Reader A swoon might make Reader B roll her eyes. Books are just plain subjective. Neither reader is right or wrong. Neither is stupid or smart. They just are.
Up until this point, the book blogging community has been nothing but an ultra loving place, full of collective bibliophilia and unending support. I know this experience is nothing but a fluke. The stream of hate mail I've gotten has prompted me to change my email, but it's certainly not going to make me change my reviewing style or leave the blogosphere entirely. So let's all have a BIG DRINK, plow forward, and leave this messiness behind, okay? I know of several good books we could read to make ourselves feel better.