Free-For-All-Friday – The Review Spectrum

This is kind of post for other reviewers, but readers will know what I’m talking about. Have you ever read a book with reviews that generally all fall on one end of the spectrum – all very good or all very bad – and when you read it, you find yourself way over on the other end? And you’re standing there, all by your lonesome, waiting for someone to join you? And it never happens? And you start to question if maybe you’re out to lunch. What’s wrong with you that everyone else sees this one thing and no one seems to see the same things you do…?

I reviewed a book a couple months ago at the author’s request. All the reviews on Amazon were five stars. The book didn’t have a Goodreads page until I set it up, but now, all the reviews added have been five stars and how poignant and important this story is. It’s not a book I generally would have gravitated towards, but if a book is well written, I can usually see the good points. This was not the case with this book. It took me over a month to read 60 pages and I had to force myself to finish those pages. I was trying to at least finish the first third of the book, but the thought of reading another 30 pages made me want to cry. Like actually. It made me feel guilty for not being able to finish the book. Then I realized that I don’t know this author and I shouldn’t stress myself out over something that is supposed to be fun.

I did not think the book was well written. The story bounced through time with no details and was full of telling with almost no showing. Things like having a crucial conversation that sets a relationship tone were skimmed over in a narrator paragraph instead of actually giving us the conversation. A lot of the comments are that this book is touching because it’s based on a true story and it’s not fair for me to judge it. The truth or fiction of a novel is irrelevant to the writing quality.

What do you do when your opinion of a story is so vastly different from everyone else? Do you go back and give the book another chance? Do you push through and see if it gets better? What do you do with you DNFs? Are they ever worth re-visiting? This book sits in the back of my mind, waiting for someone to validate my opinion.

What I’d really like is from more people to read this novel so I have a broader number of reviews to compare against. I just don’t know what everyone else is seeing that I’m not.

Reviewing is subjective. I know that. These are our experiences as readers; they are going to differ. But how can I not see what all these other people are seeing?!

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