I’ve reviewed a few books over the last few months, partly because I enjoy reading, partly for the expanded view it gives me of other writing styles, and a little because I feel it’s a duty. Some of the resulting experiences have been pleasant. Good books, well laid out, good plot, and edited nicely.
Others? Not so much. And that’s where the danger comes in.
Now, I’m going to attempt saying this without coming off all snotty. I have read a number of articles that argue the advent of indie writing and publishing has brought into the marketplace quite a number of lesser quality writing. Flooded Amazon, Smashwords, and wherever else with tomes that, if capable of uttering sound, would resemble a bobcat being scalded by steaming hot water. And you know what?
Not all of them, of course. As I mentioned, some have been good reads – great reads, actually. They definitely fall into the other category I’ve read about – the good authors who, for whatever reason, never have their work published by a traditional publishing house. And, as anyone who knows me can attest, I am 100%, four-square, full-speed-ahead-and-damn-the-torpedoes behind whomever wants to thumb their nose at the aristocracy of the writing world and whip that book out write in their faces.
But boy – the other ones. Take one I read just this past week. I’m not going to name the author, title, or anything about the book. This isn’t the arena for that. What I will say is that it sucked. I mean, bad sucked. The editing was horrible, it flowed like a ’59 Edsel with four fouled plugs, and the main character – the heroine, mind you – was (I’m not a psychologist, but take my word for it) bipolar. I can’t really tell you how bad it all was. But here’s the kicker, and I can’t figure it out for the life of me. It’s getting four-and five-star reviews. From a lot of people. Now, I should say that a number of folks agreed with my assessment, almost to a “T”…but what the hell happened with the others? They loved it, couldn’t put it down, blah blah, freaking blah. And I am confident enough to say that if I gave any of my author bud’s a copy of it, they’d put it down within an hour – maybe less.
So. Reviewing. It’s scary business. It’s a time when you have to put friendships, feelings, and any other emotional tugs aside, and write what you think. Anything else would be a disservice to both the writer, and to their audience. And it can also score you serious scorn too – not to mention recrimination in the form of your own negative reviews.
How can it get any more dangerous than that?