Thanks to varying reading preferences, getting reader feedback can be such an absolutely entertaining experience. At its best, it’s a psychological study of individual likes and dislikes, tastes and perceptions.
That’s not an insult to readers. It’s just a fact. What’s fascinating for me might be boring for you. What irritates her might be stimulating for him.
We’re a world made up of differences based on gender, race, nationality, class, experience, interest, education, intellect and so much more. So it only makes sense that we’re not going to be able to agree on which books are awesome and which ones are a drag.
To illustrate this, I figured we could take a fun little jaunt through some contradicting reviews I’ve read about my own novels, as pasted or posted below.
Yup, I’m picking on myself. Because, well, why not?
If you can’t have fun with your reviews, you might want to reconsider being a published author.
For starters, consider these thoughts from two different readers about the first book in my Faerietales series, Not So Human. I’ve added emphasis (i.e., highlighting) to the especially differing lines between the two.
Three-Star Review as Posted by Lacrimsonfemme on ReadingAlley.com: Sabrina is living the life of a drone. Bored to death of her dead end job which makes little to no use of her degree, she is wishing for a bit more to life. There is a reason why the phrase, "be careful of what you wish for" exists. Before Sabrina knows it, her entire life history is rewritten. Specifically, she is not human... This first book gives a tiny glimpse into the fae world. Ms. Dilouie sketches out a world that is interesting and makes me want to learn more. Hopefully in the follow up books, there is more focus on the fae world. Giving the characters a bit more depth would also help create more memorable characters. This story just starts to get good and then it ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. The pace of this story is a bit slow. Yes, there is action pack at the beginning with Sabrina fleeing for her life. This fleeing and getting to the good part felt a bit dragged out. If there was more world building it would have helped. Overall, this is a nice start to the series. Recommended for fantasy readers who like fae with amazing wings.
Four-Star Review as Posted by Jeepwonder on ReadingAlley.com: In a genre usually choked with vampires or changelings, I found fairies a nice change. Using the usual 'orphan not realizing she was a...' plot line worked for the author. She skillfully wove a story that provided characters you could care about. The descriptions were vivid and easy to visualize, something important in a story of this type. The tension never left boring holes in the narrative, and there was plenty of action sprinkled throughout. The main character grew as the story progressed. How would anyone react to find out they are something they never dreamed existed? Yet it was easy to suspend reality and enjoy the story. If anything, I was disappointed that the story wasn't longer and look forward to upcoming works in this series. I would recommend this book as a nice piece of escapism.
See what I mean? Faerie world-writing novelist though I might be, I couldn’t make this stuff up if you paid me for it.
That’s not the only bit of contradicting feedback I’ve gotten over the years. I don’t have any exceptionally opposite reviews such as a one-star vs. a five-star for the simple reason that I don’t have any one-stars.
Come to think of it, I don’t think I have any two-star reviews either across the various platforms.
But what I do have are these two other snippets, this time on Maiden America, to share.
Three-Star Review as Posted by Kelly on GoodReads: Jeannette DiLouie wrote this novel in first person, which as a writer, I find very difficult to do well. Ms. DiLouie did a fine job of it, although I did feel like there were places where Abigail became more of a narrator “telling” some of the story. I didn’t feel there was enough live action and dialogue. However, that’s my personal opinion, which could very well stem from the fact that I don’t read many novels that are written in first person. In any event, it didn’t keep me from liking the story line and the characters.
Five-Star Review as Posted by Skipper on Amazon: "Maiden America" is a wonderful read for anyone who's curious about what it was like to live in the midst of the American Revolution. The setting is Princeton, N.J.--the time is December 7, 1776, to January 4, 1777. J.D. (the author, Jeanette DiLouie) captures the feel of the struggles of "One nation, under God" to be born. The reader experiences this from the viewpoint of Abigail Carpenter and her family, as the British occupation reaches their town and their home. The story is full of drama and surprises; it draws you in from the start.
As a side note, while “Kelly” very generously wrote that I “did a fine job of” writing in first-person, I know it really threw her off. She told me so in person, whereas nobody else that I know of has had a problem with it.
It’s the same thing as how my highest-rated novel, The Adulteress – which “Kelly” absolutely adored – is actually my least favorite of my published works. It’s not that I don’t like it. I do. But whenever I decide to re-read one of my stories, that’s not the one I go for.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. This is one of those genuine cases of it being to each their own.
It’s probably good that way anyway. If we authors got nothing but glowing reviews across the board, we’d be insufferable know-it-alls.
… More than we already are.