Is it just me?


Yesterday I finished reading a novella, I promised to leave a review for the author – but I have a dilemma.

I apologise in advance for the wanton use of exclamation marks in this article, but …needs must!

The book was pretty awful. I’m being diplomatic here, it was shockingly poor. I looked on Amazon to see what other reviewers had said, and both had given a 4 star rating!

So, now I’m wondering if it is just me – did I misunderstand something? Both reviews, however, were very brief, less than three sentences apiece and had very little content. Why would someone rate a book so highly and then scarcely comment on it? What’s the point of a review which merely reiterates the blurb of a book?

Let me explain my reasons for not appreciating this book. The story is intended to be inspirational, it aims to show people a way out of the debt crisis, that is so prevalent in today’s economic climate. However, the plot is so unrealistic – keeping in mind that this is supposed to reflect real life – most people in this situation would probably laugh at the over-simplification of the problem. The main protagonists are caught up in a never-ending circle of debt, only to get a monthly water bill for 80,000 dollars. Apparently there is a problem with the billing system – and the FBI are called in to investigate as fraudulent activity is suspected. After paying the bill (!!!!) the main characters look to find other ways to earn money, just in case they get another extortionate bill the following month.

Now, in spite of the fanciful premise of the story, the writing is also not strong. The dialogue is stilted, repetitive and unnatural. Occasionally there is evidence of the author trying to raise his game. but the descriptions are lacklustre and fake, each scene feels staged and artificial. But, it gets better (or should I say worse?) In order to get out of debt, one of the main characters looks online for money-making opportunities and comes across Createspace – the self publishing site. She pens a quick poem, uploads it and sees that within moments people are paying for her work. Inspired by her own success, she writes a novella in two days and publishes it soon after (following a spell-check, of course, because that is all you need!) She prints off some flyers and begins the marketing process, attending an open mic event, to read her story to the masses. (Did I mention that the plot was unrealistic?????) At one such event, she meets a fellow author (!!) who tells her that he used Createspace too, and – the best quote from the book – “it took a few months, but I am now a renowned author.”

WHAT!!!! I’m sorry, but the chance of this happening is so remote, that you couldn’t even make it up! (If you have detected a hint of sarcasm, then you are quite correct).  I know many authors who work so very hard on their books, they write, re-write, edit and re-write again. They seek opinions from others before they dare to press the ‘publish now’ button. This book is – in my opinion, I know – mindless drivel, it denigrates the work involved in writing a book (OK, maybe I’m bitter, twisted and sarcastic now).

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! 

I could copy all of my blog posts into such a site and publish them – it won’t make them any more interesting (you’re nodding now, aren’t you?). Anyone can publish a book these days, but not everyone can write and publish a good book.

So, it is just me? (I know I’m repeating myself, but this time it’s for emphasis!)

Well, I still have to write a review for Amazon – and I will keep it honest and constructive – but I think I’m going to choose my words very carefully first.  Geez – I could probably write a complete trilogy in the same time – but I won’t!


2 thoughts on “Is it just me?

  1. I agree, I have had some great reviews and asked to write a review, The book then has multiple mistakes, not only in the way the fiction is presented but also the author’sl research is inaccurate and badly so. One such book had over 30 great reviews and it couldn’t possibly have earned them by good writing. How does this happen and should they be asked to take the books down if the fair criticism is proved? The way things are doesn’t help good indie writers or readers who want direction to choose a good book.

    1. Indeed. Such books are not doing Indie authors any favours. I feel totally duped whenever I’ve read one of these books, expecting something that just isn’t delivered, despite so many reviews raving about it.

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