Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm Not Listening to You...

There's two schools of thought among writers about reading reviews of your own books or not. I've always read them, but lately have been feeling like pitching tent over in the other camp. Here's the thing, I'm big fan of the Book Review Blog culture. I've said before I think it's done a wonderful job of spreading the word about books and reaching teens in a way that conventional book advertising doesn't. But recently, I've noticed some disturbing trends on these sites.

It seems as if whenever a blogger hates a book, there a ton of comments that follow thanking them for their terrible review and "saving" them from reading a book. Now, there's merit in respecting an opinion, but to assume you can never like a book because of what someone else thinks (someone who is typically not even the intended audience in the case of YA books) is kind of crazy. I mean, not to undercut a Book Blogger, but many of them aren't an authority on writing. They are just people with opinions...they carry no more weight just because they took some time to voice their thoughts publicly. They provide a useful service and insight, but to let a stranger dictate your reading choices is insane. It's sad to see people unwilling to think for themselves.

My most polarizing book by far is Zombie Blondes. It seems to be a love/hate kind of book. I find it completely ironic when I see a review that slams the book because they find the main character "obnoxious" and that it's unbelievable anyone would so blindly follow. Yet, they never seem to notice the sheep like nature of the comments following their review.

I've also noticed that most of the bad reviews for this book are being written by adults, many who probably believe Juno is a realistic portrait of teen life. It's not that I don't think they're opinion matters. Of course I do. Whether an artist wanst to admit it or not, there is a part of them that cares what people think--it's human nature. But I've always cared more about what teens think of my books as that is the reader I'm trying to reach and for who's enjoyment the story was structured to entertain. SO, in the interest of balance, let me share:

Nobody could ever describe popularity more than Brian James. This totally declares the populars for what they are. Everybody else is blind because of their beauty but if you've read this book, you know the truth.
Brooke (from

Very suspenseful... But a little creepy. I couldn't put this book down. Literally. I red this in the time between school and bedtime.
Cookie (from

At the beginning, the book was good an d it had kept me reading. Toward the end, It was really grabbing. The end was so freaky that I had a nightmare the night I finished it. The end was one of those books that seems like it needs a sequel, but it would not be very long. I highly recommend this book to both boys, and girls if you want a little scare.
Maggie (from

Zombie Blondes reads like a really good Twilight Zone episode. The ending literally gave me chills. I have to rank this as one of the best teen horror novels I have ever read.
Katheryn (from

brilliant book, loved everything bout it!!!!!!

Jemimah (from Facebook)

read the book it's sooooo good i got freaked out at the end but just love it. ♥

Cierra (from Facebook)

I'm not trying to rant, or even argue against bad reviews. I know the book isn't everyone's kind of story. However, it's never a good idea to read one review if reviews are how you make your choices (which is a whole other subject). And though I think most reviewers do a great job, there are definitely some out there who need to get off their high horse.


  1. I definitely feel this post, Brian. I hate, hate, hate reading reviews from almost any source outside a chosen few, elite, review publications. Maybe that's snobby, but regular folks too frequently tend to get their personal feelings hopelessly entwined in their reviews... and they end up not "getting it" -- like the person who though one of your characters was obnoxious, and then those personal feelings tend to snowball through their friend lists.

    But, as a writer, these sites are also kind of like stumbling upon THE BOOK THAT WILL TELL YOU HOW YOU'RE GOING TO DIE, and it's so hard to resist thumbing through to the final page. Sometimes I can't help but read what people say about my books.

    And you're right, too, that a lot of blog reviewers and people who write comments on sites like Amazon and Goodreads do fine work (whether I like what they say or not).

  2. Well put as always.

    And yes, I do love the negative reviews that turn into semi-personal attacks. A fine example of our cynical society meeting the web's mad embrace with the freedom of speech...civility not required.