Category: book reviews you can’t trust

An Amazon Book Review That Takes the FU#%ing Cake!!

Before I get into anything else, the photo above is from If you haven’t been there and checked out the great photos of cakes gone wild, you need to do this soon. Be prepared: you’ll need plenty of time to browse.

About the Amazon book review. Sorry, it’s not a bad review for one of my books and I’m not going to meltdown and rant with overused Internet-isms like WTF-ery, and Headdesk.

The Amazon book review I’m talking about was written for a book I’ve been planning to buy. I do not know the author, nor will I ever meet the author. And though I don’t like to link to things like this because no one is paying me to advertise for them, in this case it’s important to provide a link so readers can see what I’m talking about.

As I said, I’m planning to buy this book and I wanted to check out the reviews late last night. It’s a fairly new release and I wasn’t expecting to see a lot of reviews yet. And, I’m buying the book regardless of reviews because I’ve read the author’s work in magazines and I like his style.

Of course I expected to see reviews that varied. But I never expected to see a gem like THIS:

No, I haven’t read the book. I don’t need to. The premise of the book is completely absurd. A grown man is assuming that there is something wrong with him just because he doesn’t fit into the conventional idea of a father, and that he needs to change. Just because we have a conventional view of what a father should be doesn’t mean you should change yourself to fit into that. Also, you have NO idea whether or not the baby will pop out wanting to do conventional male things. Nothing about being manly makes you a good father. Being a good father is about providing guidance, and listening to what your child wants and needs. I personally feel very strongly about this because I had a father who constantly tried to shove conventional gender roles down my throat, and it made my life much worse. It’s sad to see someone going out of their way to write a book about it.

This reviewer also left a one star rating.

Admittedly, the author of this review didn’t read the book. If he had read the book I wouldn’t be writing this post and I would understand his/her feelings. I would respect them, too. But it’s impossible to respect a review when the “premise” of the review is based on either assumption or hearsay. I’ve read DNF reviews before. I’m not fond of doing it, but I even once left a DNF review for one of the most poorly written m/m romances of all time…with solid examples of why I thought it was poorly written, and with my own name. I hope I won’t have to do this again, but I will if I read something that awful again.

But I can tell you this for certain. One thing I will never do is leave a review for a book that I haven’t read. That’s like reviewing the performance of a car I’ve never driven, or reviewing a film I’ve never seen. Where is the credibility in a review like this? But more than that, how are reviews like this allowed to be published?

According to Amazon, this is their policy about reviews, verbatim:

As a retailer we are interested in cultivating a diversity of opinion on our products. Part of that is allowing our customers to air their honest thoughts on items they have received.

I get this. It makes sense. But in this case the item in question…the book…was never received/purchased by the reviewer, by his/her own admission in writing. It’s pure conjecture.

At first I found the review amusing. I buy popcorn at the circus just like everyone else. But after I thought about it for a while it just left me with a doomed feeling that’s hard to describe. Because if authors are now supposed to deal with book reviews like this, written by people who haven’t even read the book and have deep-seated emotional issues that stem from their troubled childhoods, we’re all screwed.

And this brings me back to something I’ve said many times before on this blog. As readers we not only have to vet the books we are thinking of buying, but also vet the *reviews* for the books we are thinking about buying. The lack of ethics and standards with reviews just seems to be slipping downward on a daily basis.

How Reliable Are Online Reviews for Anything?

First, I’m not talking about book reviews written by serious online book reviewers. So don’t get all worked up into a huge snit until you read the entire post. Joyfullyreviewed, dearauthor, and others like them are not the people I’m posting about today. Like them or not; agree with them or not; they work hard at what they do and they provide a viable place for readers to find out what books are like before they make purchases.

What I’m talking about are book reviews on amazon and other web sites that sell books. And I’m going to start the post with something I experienced recently. I saw an ad for granite counter tops in a local magazine. I’ve wanted them for a long time and the price was right. So I called and made an appointment to see one of their sales reps. I liked him, ordered the granite without even looking at it, and in less than a week it was installed without any problems whatsoever. And when it was finished the sales rep called and asked me to leave a review about their company. He told me he’d appreciate it because his competitor is so jealous he’s getting sales because of his special offer the competitor is leaving false nasty reviews about the company. And I checked it out when I left my own good review, and I was amazed at how many negative comments there were. Mostly because I had such a great experience. I liked them so much I recommended them to friends, and my friends had a great experience. And all the nasty reviews had two things in common: they were all posted anonymously, and all gave nothing but superficial negative comments without any actual descriptions.

I couldn’t help comparing this experience with some of the experiences I’ve seen with regards to book reviews on places like amazon. The bad ones are always short and snarky, and always written anonymously or with ridiculous, contrived names. And the good ones are often just as bad, which leaves me wondering whether or not the author’s family and friends left the reviews to help the author promote the book. The problem is most authors can spot a fake book review a mile away, but most consumers can’t, which is unfortunate. They trust these reviews and base their purchases on them, which is even more unfortunate.

Personally, I’d like to see an end to all anonymous online reviews…for any product. They are often false, misleading, and can’t be depended on. And if anyone wants to leave a valid review, there should be forms to fill out and these people shouldn’t be afraid to leave their real names, in bold print, and stand behind their words.

The point I’m trying to make is that consumers simply cannot trust every single review they read on amazon and other sites like amazon. If I’d read the reviews about the granite company I used and taken them seriously, I would have missed out on a great deal on new granite counters.