Whenever I do not like a book or enjoy the reading experience of it, I feel terribly.
I know that authors spend a lot of time crafting a narrative that they are proud of, that makes them a livelihood, and that makes them an author. So, when I read someone’s work and hate it, I feel ashamed. I wonder what’s wrong with me that I did not like it. Then, I go onto Goodreads and I find that I cannot be honest in my review.
This thought/feeling/fear/habit is one that I have mentioned in previous posts and has been on my mind this past week. I read Diary of a Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee and I just hated it. It was about a quirky, impulsive, funny, and confident (mostly) art teacher, so, by all accounts, I should have loved it. And I didn’t. I found the young female characters to be irrational stereotypes. The younger males were all overly handsome nice, solid, calm, rational, lacking personalities, and boring. The older males were misogynistic cheaters and the older women were wealthy, harmless eccentrics or openly hostile and conniving shrews. The women were always fighting and the plot lines were absurd (Often I like absurd plot lines, just did not like it here.)
That being said, it was what I felt and what I thought. It does not mean that I am right or that I interpreted the characters the way that the author intended. That is why my Goodreads review was “Listen, I didn’t really like this one.” The understatement of the year, but appropriate. I do not think it is my place to rip an author apart because of how I felt about her characters and story. Sometimes, fellow readers will have the above critiques about books that I love. We are all different people with varying tastes and preferences. Books too.
That is why I try to honest about how I felt about a book or interpreted a book, but never accuse an author or book of being awful. That’s not a fact. When I find something to be awful, it is because I did not enjoy it or it was not to my taste. Reviewers would do well to remember this. Myself included.
How do you handle reviewing books you do not like? What books do you like that no one else does? What books do you not like that everyone else does?