This is a little rant about something I read on a book review blog the other day. The reviewer in question slammed a story because one of the characters didn’t know what GPS was. It was suggested in this review that anyone under the age of 70 should know what GPS is, and therefore the author didn’t know what she was doing.
I find this interesting. I’m forty; I still run every morning, still have a thirty-two inch waist, and have been told I could pass for someone in his thirties…well under the age of 70. I own two cars and both have GPS. I have an iPhone with apps for GPS. And I honestly could not tell you, in detail, what the hell GPS is about or how to use it.
Because I don’t care. I don’t need GPS at this point in my life, and frankly I’m not even sure I ever will. I know it’s some kind of navigational tool. I would imagine it comes in handy for people who travel for work, especially in sales. I’m not knocking GPS. But I’m a writer. I work at home. I know how to drive into to New York and find the Lincoln Tunnel without any problems at all. I rarely take the Holland, but could find it just as easily if I had to. I know how to get to any place between Maine and S. Beach Miami without any problems at all. I know how to get to the airport and the train station. If I need specific directions, which is rare, I stop and ask for them. Or, print out directions from google.
I’m sure there will come a day when I do need GPS. I like knowing that it is there just in case I ever do need it. I’ve even been telling myself that I have to sit down and learn how to use it…just in case that day comes when I need it. But at this point, GPS isn’t something I need.
Now, this is interesting. My parents are retired therapists. They have GPS in both their cars, plus on their iPhones. They are both over 70 and they both use their GPS all the time. In fact, they don’t go anywhere without turning it on. They know so much about GPS it could put you to sleep.
My point is that I don’t see how a character in a book not knowing what GPS is should be relevant to a book review. As an author, there are things the reader should take for granted and not question. If an author thinks a character shouldn’t know what GPS is, I don’t think it should be questioned. I just finished a mystery romance where a character didn’t know how to operate his GPS. I explained why he doesn’t know how to operate it. But I don’t think it’s fair to assume that just because most people care about GPS the rest of the world should care.
And when I see reviews like this, those that pick out snitty little things like GPS, I can’t help but wonder what kind of person the reviewer is. What would make a person think this way? To assume we all know about GPS, and then condemn an author for not thinking this way. But more than that, if I had been reviewing that particular book, I would have been more concerned about the author’s poor use of dialogue tags…there were adverbs in every example in the review. I would have been more concerned about the author’s use of said bookisms…he grumbled, mumbled, and stumbled, three lines in a row, no joke. But the last thing I would have cared about was that the character didn’t know what GPS is.