Exterminate! Exterminate!

256px-Book_burning I’ve read some books I didn’t particularly like. I’ve read some books that I thought had many technical and craft-related flaws. I’ve written reviews on some of those books.

I’ve never felt the need or desire to destroy an author or their book in one of those reviews. I don’t think it’s necessary, professional, or entertaining.

I’m not writing this post because I’ve received any sort of review like this for my own work (or if I have, I’ve been lucky enough not to see it!). But I’ve read some others lately that alternately make me cringe, and make me angry. Have you seen reviews like this? Where the reviewer seems to take a sick delight in completely eviscerating the work–and by association, of course, the author? They can be cleverly written, sure. But their vitriol against the book is actually repulsive. I’m not going to do any of them the service of linking to them. Sadly, they’re not all that difficult to find.

Yes, there are probably more flawed books available now than there ever were before (although don’t think they don’t/didn’t exist inside traditional publishing since its inception). But I don’t know what can prompt a “reviewer” to write such a screed. Even if you think a book is the worst piece of drivel ever written, that opinion doesn’t give you the right to decimate another human being. You can discuss the flaws you found in the book; you can discuss why it didn’t appeal to you; you can even make suggestions for what would have improved it for you. Those thoughts might be helpful to an author in writing another book, and they might be helpful to other readers in deciding whether to read a book.

But if you’re not writing a review with those goals in mind, why *are* you writing it? If it’s to make yourself look clever and rapier-witted at the cost of destroying someone else–you’re just another online bully. And your credibility with me is a big fat zero.

Photo credit: By Patrick Correia from Northampton, MA, United States (Book burning Uploaded by mangostar) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. What irks me even more is when people give a book a 1-star rating because of something unrelated to the work, itself.

    On Amazon, I’ll see 1-star ratings that are given because of something Amazon or FedEx did that have zero to do with the poor author. Or they’ll rate the book based on something the author said on Twitter or whatever.

    Even worse, on Goodreads, you can rate a book before it’s even published. As soon as the book is out there, at least one or two 1-star ratings appear. I always want to look those people up and just berate them for being such idiots.

    I also dislike the ratings where people will give it a 1-star or 2-star rating and their entire review is “I know I read it, but I don’t remember it.” Well, if you don’t remember it, how do you know you hated it? GAH!

  2. I completely agree with this post. Nobody likes EVERY book, that is understandable, but to completely tear another human being apart over a keyboard is awful. If I post a review on a book that I didnt enjoy, I always offer positives, and constructive criticism – and point out people who might enjoy the book even if I didnt

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