Recently, the writing group I'm a part of on Facebook was talking about a specific review on a book. It was an out there, 1-star review that said, "I hate my EX." While quite amusing, it did spark a conversation on what reviews authors like to see. One point that was brought up was important enough that I thought I'd address it here.
Remember the author has no control over the quality of printed books or the shipping times. The only time they have control is if they're shipping out the books themselves. However, in a marketplace such as Amazon, that's rarely the case. Most independent authors choose to use Amazon's CreateSpace to handle the printing and Amazon to handle the shipping. If the book you receive is of inferior quality, then feel free to mention it in the review. However, and this is important, please do not knock stars off the review because of this. Please rate the book based on the story and the author's ability to write.
I'll admit that idea is backwards, because most of the time we write reviews on products specifically aimed at quality and how well it does what it was meant to do. For example, a bathroom scale. We would review how accurate it is, how it looks, how well it stands up to use, etc. Books are a different animal. What they are "meant to do" is sweep us off to another land, another time, another whatever and let us experience the world through another viewpoint. And that is what we want to review. How well did the author do?
With that in mind, here's the one and only 2-star review I've written and posted publicly. The author did a smashing job writing and editing, but in my opinion, missed with the story line itself.
Brandye Dui-Erâth was born
under a blood red moon and in the midst of a fire that claimed his
parents’ lives while leaving him untouched. Because of these auspicious
beginnings, no one trusted him, not even when his grandfather came to
claim him in order to raise him and took him to another town. The story
of his birth seemed to follow him wherever he went.
Brandye grew up on his grandfather’s tales of a Darkness that claimed
the rest of the world, leaving Consolation as the only place where
Light still prevailed. Coupled with a curiosity about the world around
him, fostered by his grandfather, Brandye grew up in a time when
Darkness began to creep across the final bastion of light.
Having found only friends in a single family that didn’t look down
upon him and the circumstances of his birth, Brandye grew and became a
young man in charge of his destiny.
I have just done what I swore I’d never do; which is post a 2-star
review. I normally keep these silent and contact the author directly.
However, this is a different case entirely. The story itself is
well-written and there are almost no errors in the manuscript itself.
That is impressive. And for many, this book may be great. I read all
250+ pages of it just fine.
As a writer, I’m well aware of the need to create an elaborate back
story for characters, especially the main character, in order to be able
to show a rich and complete character to the reader. Unfortunately, in
my opinion, that’s all this book was. It was the intricate back story
that tells us what made Brandye what he is. I kept waiting for the story
to fully develop and things to happen. While there are great scenes in
the book where I thought, “Here we go, there’s the story,” it would fall
short and back up a bit. Those great areas could easily have been
worked into a different book as flashbacks, or something similar, so we
could see what happened to make Brandye the way he was. When this book
ended, I thought, “Now we reach what should have been the first book.”
Do not get me wrong. This entire book was well-written. That is the
reason why I’m leaving a 2-star review for the first time. There are
plenty of people out there that may very well disagree with me and
believe this made a terrific first book to what appears will be a great
series. I will admit that I’m intrigued and would be willing to read the
second book to see what happens next. There are so many ways this could
go from the end point that I’m fascinated to see what will happen.