Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Critical Influence

I am not particularly influenced by amazon reviews-I have seen too many bad ones of books I have read and loved to take them seriously. But I am influenced by professional critics. I was reading a book by a writer I have enjoyed (but not always) in the past. I was really into it. So I went online to read reviews of it, which almost all were negative, citing the big fall-off in the second half.

I put the book aside-deciding I did not want to finish a 500 page book that would let me down in the end.

Would you have finished it? I was on page 120.


Dana King said...

I never read reviews of books I have yet to read, or am in the process of reading. Ruins the book for me. I have my sources for picking books to read, which can safely be called online word of mouth. (Blogs and web sites, Facebook.) If the people I know and trust are good with a book, I'll likely give it a try. (Hopefully. I'm always a little backed up.) Aside from that, I don;t care what someone i don't know said about a book, except occasionally to see if my opinion was outside the mainstream, and why. I refuse to let any review--from anyone--interfere with my enjoyment of a book.

If was to Page 120 and enjoying it, I would have kept on.

Rick Robinson said...

While I may read reviews before I buy or borrow a book, and then not that many, once I start a book I never read a review of it until it is finished for cast aside. Then, why read a review, I've already made my own mind up about it? So I wouldn't have stopped halfway through to read a review, I would have kept reading and if it slowed down or failed in some other way I'd decided whether to keep reading.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Here is a consensus statement from the reviews:

"Yes, it's mordant commentary on the frequent outlandishness of American culture. But less - 200 pages less - would have been more. The camp, bizarre situations keep erupting, making us wish for some narrative Immodium. By the time the author gets to her heartwarming lesson about the profound satisfactions of loving connections, we're spent."

I put this book on reserve long ago and began reading before the reviews came out.

And I always read reviews afterward or before. I like to see if my opinion is widely held or if I missed something important. Not so much with crime fiction--but always with the so-called literary ones.

I may pick it up again.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Patti, I usually finish reading a book I have started reading no matter how slow or boring it gets along the way or even if I happen to read a bad review. I rarely read reviews of books on retail, publishing and literary review sites except on blogs most of which usually have nice things to say about the books reviewed. There's a personal touch to blog reviews that I like.

Anonymous said...

If you were "really into it" why let other critics ruin it for you.

There have been movies and shows we've seen where our views differ greatly from that of the critics - either better or worse - but I'm going to go with my own feelings rather than someone else's.

Remember, AMERICAN BEAUTY won Best Picture and several other Oscars. It still sucked.

Jeff M.

michael said...

I never read a review for opinion, I read it to give me insight to the contents. Is it a serious serial killer or laugh out funny romantic suspense? Will the characters annoy me? Tell me the hero has a comedy sidekick and I avoid it at all cost.

As a reviewer (and one that in the past who has been paid to review entertainment), there are reviews I wrote I now disagree with.

Keep reading until you agree with the critic, then stop. That way you are risking wasting time to read less than a hundred pages instead of five hundred.

As for Amazon's reviews, I read Publisher Weekly only. I recently had a good laugh at the rant J.A. Konrath had on his blog. Seems Amazon has been removing many of the reviews he had done for his book and those he did for his friends.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I was already beginning to see problems as it rushed willy nilly from one outrageous circumstance to the next.
Amazon removed my review of BOOKS TO DIE FOR. Don't know why for sure.

Dana King said...

Steve Weddle had a review removed last week, as well. Amazon's response to the sock puppet scandal appears to be to move too far the other way. (As usual.) Now if they sense any relationship between you and the author, it comes down.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I guess that is it.

Rob Kitchin said...

I'd keep going until it didn't work for me.

I've no idea if Amazon has taken down any of my reviews. Interesting that they finally seem to be doing something about the quality/veracity of reviews, though it sounds like they might also be removing okay ones as well.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think they took it down because Megan has an essay in there but it may have been for some other reason. I have to check and see if other reviews I have written are intact.

Ron Scheer said...

When you say "amazon" took down a review, you may be talking about some employee with no qualifications for the job. I once had a review refused at amazon for use of the word "cocksure."

I glance at a review to get an idea of what a book is generally about, but knowing too much before reading it spoils a lot of the enjoyment. As for critical judgments, I can do that for myself; don't need help.

michael said...

The blog I was referring to is at:

Its called A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

I have no problems with authors or friends posting a review or even if it is a review the author paid for, if the reviewer includes that in the review.

Negative reviews against authors from other authors for personal gain would be my only choice for removal.

But there is a thin line between honest reviews and advertising.

Anonymous said...

"Reviewing" your own books is simply dishonest, period. No qualifications, no exceptions, period.

If you read a friend's book and really like it, why shouldn't you say so in a review?

Jeff M.

Chris said...

I don't read a lot of book reviews, at least for fiction. Too many are like book reports, that break down the plot in too much detail. If I DO read one, I'll read the opening paragraph, then maybe the last, which is where most put a summary of what they feel overall about it. That's what I want to know, I don't want to know more of what it's about than what one usually finds inside a cover flap thing.

Richard L. Pangburn said...

Define "letting down in the end." We all know authors (or their editors) who truncate the last end of the book in order to fit it into a subscribed format. Then there is the horse-hurrying-back-to-the-barn syndrome.

Unfortunately too often, those reviews at Amazon complaining about the ending are simply complaining about the lack of a happy ending.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have completely given up reading amazon reviews-you're right they do want a happy ending.