Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What do you do when you dislike a book

What do you do when you dislike a book? Usually a reader just stops after a certain number of pages. But what if you're a reviewer? I had a situation this week where I was trying to read a book (for review) and I COULD NOT READ IT. In my opinion it was "a bad book" - needing editing and contained unneccesarily extreme violence that crossed my personal line into the offensive.

Luckily the review site was understanding and released me from having to write a review that would have stated just how much I really disliked this book and why.

So here are my questions for the readers of my blog - should I post a negative review here when nothing is being posted to the review site? Is it my responsibility as a reviewer to warn people when I find something I feel readers should be warned about so they can make their own decisions? I couldn't get to the 50 pages I normally give a book to "hook me" so perhaps it got better. If I was the type to "burn books", this one would have gone into the bonfire - hence the image accompanying this post.

What do you guys think?


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21 comments:

Candy said...

Yes, you should post it here... mainly 'cuz now I wanna know! ;) Plus it's nice to hear different opinions.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hard call.

You didn't finish the book, so you really can't give it a fair review. And no author wants to see their baby shredded.

That said, though, I'm curious as to what the book is, who published it (with so many typos, you've got me wondering!), and what exactly riled you up.

Maybe something as fair-minded as possible: The story had potential but as a reader, I found that *this* got in the way and, in fact, turned me off.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Janelle


Hmmm, if I didn't like a book would I let readers on my blog know? Well, only if I could find some redeeming qualities in the book as well. If the book is completely awful, I am not sure I would even bother to put it up on my blog. I am not comfortable with giving any book an only negative review. But that's me speaking as a blogger/book reviewer. As a reader I would probably be grateful to be warned of a really bad book.

Victoria said...

I've had to read some pretty crappy books for review in my time too...certain self-published fantasy novels come to mind (*shudders*)...and always I've felt I should say what I really think but in as constructive a way as possible. I've picked some apart and still had positive responses from the author themselves - they want to know whats wrong with their work.

If it's the blog, it's a different matter. I feel free to express my dislike as emotively as I please...afterall, I'm not beholden to anyone there. I'd post it. :-)

Janelle Martin said...

I think Lotus just nailed my dilemna in a very succint way - as a reader I'd want to know, as a reviewer I'm uncomfortable giving a totally negative review.

And as Susan said, I didn't finish the book so I can't give it a fair review.

I'll have to ponder this one a bit more. Any other opinions?

MarciNYC said...

If you didn't like the book, yea, I'd want to know, but also admit that you were unable to finish it. I was that way with "Vernon God Little" -- thought it was one of most dreadful pieces of lit-tra-chure I've ever read and it won the Booker Prize! *boggle*

However, I don't think that you can do a review on a book you haven't finished -- so a 'two thumbs down' and I couldn't even finish it would suffice for me. Life's too short to read bad books or books that just don't hook ya... Of course, if you're committed to writing a review, I guess you'd have to slog through it... The horror!

Yea, I'm rambling. It's Friday. I'm tired. Work is boring me to tears. When's beer o'clock?

ps - are you doing AC again this year?

Koshka42 said...

As long as you put in the caveat that you didn't actually finish it, so it might have improved, I think you should feel free to post your honest opinions my dear. You might save some people agony. You might intrigue others. You never know...

Janelle Martin said...

Thanks for all the input everyone! It's such a difficult decision to make.

I don't have to finish the book - thank goodness - and someone else is going to read it and see if they want to do the review.

On an interesting note, the author contacted me to ask me to give the book another try, which I thought was a nice thing to do. He mentioned that he wasn't trying to be offensive, just showing the world the way it was.

For all those wondering what the book was, the book is Merging with Monsters by Joseph Eugene Green, published by iUniverse. What got to me? The opening 7 page rape scene the went right into a scene of a woman having a fantasy about seducing her husband that was quite graphic. I couldn't get beyond the juxtaposition of those two scenes.

It got my thumbs down but other people may enjoy the "blunt, shocking and highly entertaining examination of the personal battles waged within America’s corporate culture."

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yeah, I couldn't handle a seven-page rape scene, either. I don't care if it's real or not, it's not something I want to face, okay? My own past is hairy enough without THAT.

The fact that it's published by iUniverse says a lot, I'm afraid. Or else Miss Snark's wearing off on me at last...

Kudos to you for even trying, Janelle.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Be honest

lee said...

I think you should read more of it, like you suggested the first 50 pages and if you still don't like it; write what you think. You are charged with reviewing a book and if you don't like it, be honest! As long as your review is honest there shouldn't be a problem. Not everyone likes everything but those who sensibility are like yours will definitely appreciate your candor!

peace

lee

Anonymous said...

Janelle,

To be frank with you dear. So you didnt like it. Big whoop. Lets move on. Its not that difficult to say hey people I feel the need to share with you my discomfort regarding some graphic material which I found in this book... and leave it at that. Burning books though, please. That's an extreme that is quite laughable. Anyone who truly enjoys reading wouldn't dare no matter how horrific it might have been. The point is if you dont like it put the book down and move on to the next.
It's that simple.

Janelle Martin said...

Ah, but Anonymous, I said "if I was the type to burn a book" but I'm not. I did put it down and walk away.

What I was curious about, and what I believe the internet is for, is discussion. I wanted to know what others thought and that's what I've received here, opinions.

Thank you for adding yours.

Nique said...

I am a black woman, not like that should matter but the way this book reads it probably does, and I say speak your mind. I will. The author came to MySpace page and asked to be my friend. I assuming he figured I would check out his profile and read the first two chapters. I did...
I'm going to put my thoughts in my blog on MySpace...because that's what it is for.

What you do is up to you.

Janelle Martin said...

I couldn't figure out why I've been getting so many hits on this particular post. I seem to be averaging one or two a week - and it's no where near the top of my blog. So I decided to see what the referring link took me to, and it's the myspace page of Joseph E. Green. He has a link here entitled "She wants to burn my book."

So to all those visitors arriving via Joseph E. Green's myspace profile, welcome! Stay a while, feel free to add your comment to the fray, and no - I'm not advocating book burning.

Janelle Martin said...

Oh, and Nique did post her opinion of this book. Have a look, she managed to say what I wanted to but wasn't able to get enough distance.

It's about 2/3 down her post.

Christina said...

I give the book a thumbs up! Admittidly, I had a hard time with the first chapter and was not going to go on either, however Joseph asked me a question that arroused my curiousity and prompted me to buy and read the entire book. I am glad I did. I could picture the scenes as if it were a movie.. always knowing what each character was facing, engrossed in their own drama, having no idea what the other's were facing in their own lives. Some quite familiar!

olgancncpcn@yahoo.com said...

hey you tried your best thats how live it bABYDIDNT LIKE TJHE BOOK TRAS IT

Anonymous said...

There is a term that I think fits here, "different strokes." There are always people who dissagree with reviewers. So the book had stuff in it that couldn't push pass your personal issues, or maybe pushed too far. That doesn't mean it was a bad book. I am a vampire fanatic, and had to force read "Salems Lot" which others were telling me was great at the time. Being a reviewer is your job, not your hobby. If you wanted to write a review for that book, you should have kept that assignment. You chose not to so keep your oppinions to yourself.

Anonymous said...

I think you should finish the book. I know what book you mean through MySpace. This is the best book I have read in years. Violence? Look at the metaphor after the scene where the snow melts on the car roof....that is what violence does to people but if you finish the book, you will find that the author does just the opposite but makes the characters, victoms so to speak, visible. This spirituality in this book is eclectic and the best part. The ending is such a wonderful generous gift to the reader. I do know what you mean about having to review books and maybe this one won't but in my opinion this is one of the best books I have read in years.

Anonymous said...

I feel you, I did not like the book and that is my choice. I think if some of you get the profile picture out of your mine you could be more honest with yourself. With that said, I wonder what type of people are reading this stuff. No offense but I need a book of intelligence to hold me and take me to the end.