While I occasionally read the intentionally amusing product reviews on Amazon (here’s a link to some), I normally don’t pay too much attention to the reviews people give to books. I noticed a long time ago that my tastes rarely ever align with those of review writers, and some of the reviews are plot spoilers or just plain obnoxious.
Occasionally, however, when I’m not sure about something that happened in a story I just read or when I’m curious about a freebie that appears in a Bookbub email, I peruse Amazon or Goodreads to see what others thought. Sometimes the results are helpful, sometimes they’re not, and sometimes they make me roll my eyes so much I’m afraid they’ll get stuck.
A recent book I looked up had a real eye-roll of a 1-star review:
“If you like books with filthy language, you’ll probably like this book.”
In a single short sentence, the reviewer managed to insult both the writer of the book and any reader who might enjoy it. I pictured the reviewer clutching her pearls and wearing a scandalized look as she made her pronouncement.
I had read the book, which I picked up as a freebie from Bookbub, and didn’t remember any “filthy” language in it so I did a word search for the 7 Words You Can’t Say on Television, but none of them appeared in the book. I searched for a few dozen other words, but found nothing that could remotely be considered “filthy.”
I guess filth is in the eye of the beholder (or reader, as the case may be).
Another 1-star review said:
“The story would have been good, but there was too much sex. It was practically porn.”
Okay, that review isn’t as insulting as the first, and I get that people have different levels of comfort when reading relationship stories. Having read my share of stories that turned out to be a string of sex-scenes weakly tied together by a minor plot, I could even appreciate that kind of head’s up review. But the couple in the story in question never did anything more than kiss. It was one of those “and we’ll close the bedroom door and leave things to your imagination” kind of books. All I can think is that the reviewer must have had a rather dirty imagination if she saw porn or anything approaching it in the story.
I guess porn, like filth, is also in the eye of the beholder.
I couldn’t help thinking, as I have in the past, that it would be helpful if there was a “this was not the book for me” option for reviewers to choose, to weed out those readers who picked up a book that turned out not to be their catnip. Many of the 1-star reviews I read would have fallen into that category. I’m also rather curious about someone who would give a bad review to a book just because it wasn’t the right book for them. A 1-star review for something that was poorly written or had fatal plot flaws–sure. But for picking up a book that you didn’t realize would have -gasp!- sex or language or a storyline that you didn’t like? That seems wrong.
For now, I think I’ll just stick to reading the intentionally amusing Amazon reviews (here are a few more, courtesy of the UK Daily Mail).
Though I’m guessing humor, like porn and filth, is also in the eye of the beholder.