Bad review? Give me another, please
I heard it once from this little indie rock band: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you find, you get what you need." (The music isn't bad, they might have a future if they stick with it.)
Every author, every artist, every musician wants reviews of their work. And, this being life on earth, they likely prefer those reviews to be good. Alas, that is not how things work. People have different tastes.
The below review for Killing the Man came through the other day, from a blog reviewer who was clear in that he did not like my book. I have to tell you, I wish I got more of these:
"I can only assume the book's title is meant to be a double entendre. Killing the Man is the name of a conspiracy in the plot, but could also refer to Rick Killing, the Man. And who and what Rick Killing is captures the entire story.
Rick Johann Killing, Loss Prevention Mgr. at a major big box store – 24 Y.O. He's an ex-sports star who ran away from a career as a professional football player because of his fear of fame and failure.Maya, Rick's wife, is stubborn and acts like a vindictive child at home or in public. In living with Rick, it's easy to understand why she does.
I didn't care about either character. Rick is an obnoxious smart aleck whom I felt no compassion for.
At 70% the entire story was about Rick and his attitudes and personal issues. His antagonistic character was that of a fifteen year old. The main theme of the story is more of a coming of age tale about a man whose personal issues have screwed up his entire life. Rick stumbles upon a racial conspiracy no one else can see or wants to believe. The discovery of a racial/crime plot in his hometown brings out a higher level of pride and motivation.
From there the plot gradually swings from Rick's problems to an unbelievable plot to change the foundations of the USA. Fortunately, through his acts to protect his friends and loved ones, he finds redemption at the end.
The writing is well done, sentence structure is good and the editing is far above average. There was a problem adjusting to the author's style. Dialog would be given, and then Rick's internal thoughts would follow without being flagged with italics. After a few pages I accepted it.
Character development for the main characters was good.On the downside, some of the action scenes were a bit contrived. The biggest example being that the police would never have condoned or been involved in the takedown portrayed at the end.
The beginning chapters of the book paint Rick as a imperfect, smart mouthed ass and makes it hard to take him seriously or have compassion for him. It was hard for me to stay with the story because I disliked the character. However, by the end Rick found a purpose and broke out of the shell he had built around himself.
I can't recommend Killing the Man highly, but it turned out to be a good read."
So why am I happy with it? For several reasons:
1. I drew enough of a real character that the reviewer had an emotional reaction to him. It means that I succeeded in creating someone who I intended to be an annoying, uncontrollable smart ass. That is not by accident, folks. The reviewer disliked someone who doesn't exist, for the reasons I made him exist. Win!
2. Despite stating at several points how he struggled with the characters and plot, the reviewer stayed with the book and ended up declaring it to be a good read. How many times have you read a book that you didn't like, finished it, and ended up saying 'Well, that wasn't so bad after all'? Not many for me, I can tell you. I set aside more books than I finish because of that very reason.
3. HE GAVE IT 4 STARS. Who does that for a book they dislike, unless they actually ended up liking it. I converted the guy. Boom.
So yeah, give me reviews that are negatively-worded, that outline specific items the reader didn't like, and that in the end essentially say: 'You know what? Good book. I shall buy one million copies.' (That last part is inferred, of course.)