For the past couple of months I was caught in a very interesting dilemma; during one of my traipsing look-arounds in the Amazon Meet Our Authors (MOA) Forums, I picked up a free promo book. I did it because I was partially acquainted with the guy who wrote it and, frankly, I was curious because it had earned such great reviews, had won a prize and such.
I read the book and, truth to be told, it was boring, badly structured, the characters are lifeless, the aliens responsible for the destruction of the world as we now it feel more like an afterthought (geez, you can almost see the Magic Scotch Tape the author used to tack them on to his story) and it ended with a lengthy and preachy info dump that nearly had me skipping pages with impatience. It was the sort of novel that wouldn’t withstand the impetus of an in-depth analysis made by high school freshman majoring in English.
It was supposed to be an apocalyptic, end-of-times novel… but in the end it was only some sort of apocalypse-lite sort of book, like The Night of The Comet ends up being a neo-zombie-lite kind of movie. Now don’t get me wrong; I loved TNofTC; too bad my DVD copy developed a bad case of laser disk rot. Sigh.
But I can’t say the same for this book. When I finished it, I was truly disappointed with all the build-up of expectative that the novel had developed in me, but also partly incensed; the website which had awarded this guy a prize had awarded me a 3-star review on one of my books. I was, for lack of a better word, set to seethe on a low fire.
Of course, I wrote this guy a rather long message on Facebook, addressing these issues with his book and why I wouldn’t be able to write a beaming review. Damn! The book is so bad it would deserve a review with a scale of negative stars and I had to tell him.
He rather dismissed my comments about the trouble spots of his book with a thoughtless wave of his hand, saying he had structured the book that way to keep the reader immersed in a cloud of mystery about how it happened. Dude! You are giving the how and why it happened by quoting a line from Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! So much for an air of mystery! He also didn’t pay any heed to the problem of the final info-dump (which honestly, couldn’t be fixed without rewriting the whole book),
Here’s where my dilemma begun: I wanted, desperately, to tear this guy’s book a new one. But a teensy-weensy polka-dot voice inside me warned me it wasn’t prudent. I argued with this voice that I wanted to tell the world the Truth; that this book was CRAP. Shh—wait and listen, the voice said to me in a very patronizing way. You’d simply look like a spiteful man with all of this. I agreed reluctantly; after all this guy is selling lots of those crap-books everyday, while I barely get to sell a couple of my own each year. I’d just look bad.
Now, a few months later, someone beat me to and saved me all the trouble of writing a review. This guy’s book earned a one-star review with this book. I just read the review on Smashwords and Goodreads… and I had to agree wholeheartedly. ‘Cardboard characters’, ‘boring plot’, ‘I nodded through it’… the whole works and the whole enchilada. May as well have written it myself. I don’t have to tell you I was ROFLMAO when I read that one. Well, the reviewer left out the part I would have added about the book’s bad structure and the killer info-dump at the end, but I was quite glad that someone had stolen the words from under my nose.
Shhh, now wait… look and listen, the voice said again, surprising me after so long a time it had remained in silence. Today, I went to the Amazon’s MOA Forum and the author in question was quite incensed by the review. Apparently, he didn’t relish of this sort of truth-telling kinda review. He called the guy a troll, designated the review as a ‘low-life attack’ and that ‘he wasn’t surprised that this guy didn’t get any sales’ (apparently the reviewer was another fellow author he had met somewhere else in the online world).
Now, comes the absurd part. Quite a few of the people who posted later in the forum sided with this immature moron, trying to cheer him up and pamper the poor idiot out of the misery coming from a review that was only telling him the Truth.
And now I understand why the voice urged me to act prudently; if I had written that review, everyone would have sided with this jerk, making me lose many acquaintances I have in that forum, plus all the valuable writing connections I have been developing for the past three years or so.
Good thing I kept my mouth shut, didn’t I?