Amazon Reviewers Rate the Masters

This blog article in Salon about Amazon reviewers is pretty funny. Often, I like to read the negative reviews of books because I don’t always know what’s at stake with the five-star reviews (eg, is someone’s brother, sister, and mom reviewing their book on Amazon or is a posse of friends on Goodreads?). In the negative reviews, usually the reader doesn’t know the author (as far as I can tell). Often they’re even apologetic about not liking a book (although sometimes they’re quite brutal, given their anonymity to the author). Sometimes they struggle to articulate what they believe the shortcomings of the book are. But it takes a lot of guts to disagree with what so many others have crowned, and I think they deserve to be read for that alone. (Unless you are panning a Nicholas Sparks book, which is your civic duty, I think.)

And then there are the Amazon reviews. Check out a review of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird from an Amazon reviewer:

Looking for a sappy, cliched, novel to read? One predictable as most young-adult books and more degrading than harlequin romances? Well, To Kill a Mockingbird is your book. In this novel, all Harper Lee gives as a theme is “life isn’t fair.” I think most of us couold have figured that out without a book that should have started where the first “part” ended. Ms. Lee merely portrays a terrible, biased, southern society that seemingly places its main goal on ruining everyone elses {sic} life. Her female characters are flat, simple-minded women. Wether or not this is due to its setting is irrelevant. Lee places guilt on a group of people instead of individuals (the Ewells) as it should be. Thank God Ms. Lee only wrote this book; surely her next would degrade society even further. I’m sure it too would be deemed a classic as long as it dealt with politically correct subjects that are far too worn out to remain interesting.

Harlequin romances? Come on! And then there’s one for E.B White’s Charlotte’s Web:

Absolutely pointless book to read. I felt no feelings towards any of the characters. I really didn’t care that Wilbur won first prize. And how in the world does a pig and a spider become friends? It’s beyond me. The back of a cereal box has more excitement than this book. I was forced to read it at least five times and have found it grueling. Even as a child I found the plot very far-fetched. It is because of this horrid book that I eat sausage every morning and tell my dad to kill every spider I see. It is a traumatic, coma-enducing story that has changed my life forever. In conclusion I feel no one should be put through such torture and this book should be banned from every school, library, and bookstore in the Milky Way.

You can’t please everybody, I guess.

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