Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Why Must People Spoil?

So, I just stumbled upon my first really really bad blog review today and now I feel sad. Not so much because the reviewer (and alas, I'm not big enough to link to him) panned Flora Segunda roundly--but because in doing so he basically spoiled the ENTIRE PLOT, including every plot twist and reveal, and the ending, too.

And that just doesn't seem fair.

I certainly understand that no book can be everything for everyone, and there will always be someone who either doesn't like or doesn't understand what you are trying to do. (And to salvage my ego a bit I don't think this reviewer understood AT ALL what I was trying to do. Nor did he seem take into account that FLORA SEGUNDA is a book for kids--but I digressively wail, sorry.)

The real sticking point is: Just because you dislike a book, must you entirely ruin the book for others by outlying the entire plot? I suppose if you think the book is total crap (clearly this reviewer 's opinion) then you think the book is past ruining.

But it seems unfair to readers who might want to give the book a try anyway. At the very least, you could warn the reader that there are spoilers ahead. This seems to me to be common courtesy to both readers and authors. In the reviewer's defense--he did note that he doesn't normally write reviews, so perhaps that's why he didn't seem to understand professional reviewing courtesy. Still...the person he guest-reviewed for should have known...

Also--I don't think it's very nice (or professional) for a reviewer to actually call an author stupid. But perhaps I'm just overly sensitive. Writers often are!


Anonymous said...

With difficulty I'll refrain from offering my opinion of this person's taste and judgment and confine myself to agreeing with you wholeheartedly about the "book report" style of reviews. They drive me batty. I'll still read a book even if I've inadvertently learned its deepest and darkest thanks to some overzealous "reviewer." After all, I'm as interested in how the the writer gets from A to B as I am in the actual plot. BUT I do wish there was some kind of rule on the on-line bookstore reviews, at least, which prohibited total giveaways. I believe they screen the comments before posting, so why not nix the blatant spoilers?

I hope you can transcend this person's (@#!&^) opinion, and will keep your head up and keep the Califa coming. In my opinion you're an exceptionally fine writer and worldbuilder, and your work is incomparable in the literal sense of being compare-able to nothing else I've ever read. Ever. (And I read about 300 books a year in all genres, so that's saying something!)

Ron Hogan said...

I've panned a lot of books in my day, but I can't imagine that I'd ever stoop to calling an author "stupid," even if I thought the book was riddled with errors and misinformation, even if it was a memoir where the author's personality was thoroughly entwined with the content of the book. That's just wack.

Paul Witcover said...

The review -- by the regular reviewer's condescending yet clueless husband, whom she holds in awe for his ability to speed-read (if indeed he is actually reading) the books he apparently goes through like so many bags of Cheetos -- is a model of amateurish and doltish self-importance. To accuse the author of Flora Segunda of a "failure of imagination" is to convict onself of that crime.

Gwenda said...

I think we can all agree this person is clearly an idiot.

Ysabeau Wilce said...

*Sniff Sniff*--thanks for the support everyone. "Console your loss with vice," Nini Mo once said...and thus I did, with a brisk walk and most of a Vosges Chocolate Barcelona Bar. I'm feeling much better now! Tho'--I still think that Spoilering should be a crime punished, if not by the Blood Eagle, then most definitely by the Pink Ribband! It's just plain mean.

Splinister said...

Dear Ysabeau, we can't be all things to all people, but that's a good thing when you think about it. Otherwise you'd be writing bland prose.

I haven't read the review, but if he's spoiling the story for everyone he's being unfair. And name-calling is rather childish.

You have far more positive reviews than negative, so concentrate on the ones that will keep you writing and improving your craft.

I like to think that I can learn something from every review, even the harsh ones, but sometimes you have to shrug your shoulders and accept that there are people out there who won't like your work.

I'm delighted to hear that you've finished the second novel. That's a great achievement. Best of luck with the next one!

Ysabeau Wilce said...

Thanks for the cheering words, Maura! Everyone's a critic these days, I guess...but some opinions counts more than others--And happily for me, I know who is who!