lower standards in book reviews

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


Before I get into anything else, the photo above is from Cakewrecks.com. 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.