It’s scary out there …

So the big story in the book world this week is the release of Breaking Dawn, the last book in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga, which folks have been anticipating almost as much as the last Harry Potter book.

People seem to either love or hate the book. Those who love it, really love it. Those who don’t, well, you can read their reviews on Amazon. Dear Author also posted an interesting, thoughtful review yesterday.

Why do I find this interesting? Well, as a reader, I’m always curious as to what other people think about books. Reviews help me decide what to spend my money on.

For the record, yes, I did read Twilight. I really enjoyed the book — until Bella found out Edward was a vampire and became obsessed with him about halfway through. I’m not a huge fan of obsessive love stories, and I thought the book became a Romeo and Juliet with fangs at that point. Still, there were things I liked about it, and it certainly wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, though.

Bad reviews are part of being an author. Everybody gets them. One of the worst reviews I ever got was one word — insipid (for Hot Mama, I believe). But lots of people seem so angry in their reviews. Like Meyer has personally betrayed them. They’re calling her book poorly written fan fiction and worse. Much, much worse.

As a writer, this sort of scares me. Would I like to have Meyer’s success? Sure. But I don’t think I’d want to be in her shoes right now. Passion and popularity can be double-edged swords, especially when it comes to books. Maybe it’s because people have to use their imaginations more than they do at the movies. But I don’t ever recall seeing a movie or television show with the sort of vicious reviews that Breaking Dawn has gotten.

It’s happened to other writers too. Some folks didn’t like the final Harry Potter book by J.K. Rowling. Others don’t like the direction J.R. Ward is taking her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Ditto for Laurell K. Hamilton and her series.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I always respect an author’s achievement of finishing a book. Of writing, editing, and polishing it. Even if I don’t like the finished product itself.

It’s an accomplihsment that should still be celebrated. People seem to have forgotten that. And that’s a shame.

What do you think? Will you read Breaking Dawn? How far is too far in a review? Share in the comments.

8 Responses to “It’s scary out there …”

  1. Brian says:

    People can get too angry in their criticism of books, movies, politics, sports, — You name it. I think that the crossing point is when the criticism of a work becomes an attack on the person. Everything else is fair game. If citizens actually take the time to read a book, I’m fine with them shouting from the rooftops about how much they hate it.

    I respect and enjoy your willingness to go on the record with criticisms. Christopher Hitchens said, “If you criticize others, you can’t expect lenience in return.” – And you criticize television shows and movies all the time. So don’t be scared at the prospect of people ripping your work to shreds for three reasons.

    1.You criticize other’s work, so it is only fair that they can criticize your work.
    2.If people are taking the time to criticize your work, it means they care enough about it to criticize.
    3.If you are getting Meyers and Rowling level of hatred sent your way – It means you are insanely rich — So you can hire a team of SD-6 agents to track down those that dare to speak ill of your work and crush the

  2. Jennifer Estep says:

    Exactly! Attacking the work is one thing; attacking the person is something else. Several of the reviews/comments I’ve seen do just that. I even saw one that suggested that Meyer just got published because she was pretty.

    Ha! If it was that easy, I would have invested in a nose job or something, instead of things like paper and printers and writer group memberships.

    Oh, I’m not saying my own books are above criticism. Quite the contrary. I’m improving as a writer (or trying to) all the time. And there are always things I could do better. But there just doesn’t seem to be any middle ground for a polite, thoughtful debate anymore no matter what you’re talking about. It’s either love or hate.

    I know I’m not going to please everyone, and plenty of folks have already ripped my books to shreds. But I think there’s a difference between someone *explaining* what they didn’t like about it rather than just saying “It sucks.” Or saying I can’t write just because my eyes are blue or something. Which is what Meyer is getting.

    In my reviews, I try to look at things I did and didn’t like and explain why they did or didn’t apepal to me. I have my pet peeves like anyone else (alpha males, time travel, etc.) These things impact my review, and I always try to let folks know about them up front. Basically, I try to review others the way I would want to be reviewed — with a fair shake and lots of explanation.

    1. Definitely.
    2. Most of the time. There are people who are just mean for whatever reason.
    3. My own team of SD-6 agents? That would be awesome! Until they pulled a Sloane and tried to double-cross and kill me … :wink:

  3. Chasity says:

    I didn’t go out and buy Breaking Dawn on it’s release date. Instead I put my name on the library waiting list and had the book in hand on Monday. I had read some reviews and was really iffy on whether or not I wanted to spend money on this one.

    I finished the book late Tuesday evening. And I must say I was disappointed. To me, the book was choppy. One minute you’d be in the present and the next it was a flash back. So it was a bit hard for me to keep up with what was happening and when. But I got over it. I figured it out and moved on.

    The first part of the book is Bella’s POV. It wasn’t bad, but she’s a bit whiney. She doesn’t want to do this or that, and doesn’t want to accept this or that. Yada, yada, yada. Which is very true to her character. She knows what she wants and how she wants to go about doing it.

    The part of the book that astounded me, is the bit after the wedding. I won’t get into exactly what happens, just in case someone reading this hasn’t read the book yet. But let’s just say I had several OMG WTF moments.

    The second part of the book was Jacob’s POV and this one I enjoyed. I didn’t really have any complaints about Jacob’s POV.

    The last part is back to Bella’s POV. There’s a big build up of tension and the story line for a great fight. But the end was disappointing. I felt like I was let down. In my mind I knew exactly how I wanted the tension and conflict to be resolved and when it took the opposite turn, I was disappointed.

    But overall, eh. It was a book to finish out a series. I would have been more than happy to think of Eclipse as the end of the book. I will say I won’t be adding this book to my collection. I have no desire to read it ever again.

    As for reviews, they should never include personal attacks against an author. Take for instance all of the accusations that Meyers is a racist. I think Dear Author had a great post about this one. When you’re reviewing a book, you should judge the book by it’s contents, not attack the author.

    But really who am I to talk about reviewing books? I don’t write and I usually don’t review. I’ll recommend books that I think other people will like. I read for enjoyment, not to debate, etc.

    This series could have ended a lot differently. If someone really feels like they could have wrote a better book, then by golly sit down and write one. Let’s just see how far that plan gets them.

    I can’t write. As much as I’d love to have the creativity and patience to set down and pen a novel, I don’t see that happening any time in the future. Instead, I’ll read anything you can throw at me. Saying that, It’s not really my place to criticize the way anyone else writes or what they write. All I can do is give an honest opinion about how a book made me feel.

  4. Jennifer Estep says:

    Bella being whiny is one thing I never quite understood about the Twilight series. Most reviews I’ve read (even from the diehard fans) agree that she’s whiny throughout the whole series. I thought she was a really great character, until she got obsessed with Edward.

    So why do people like the books so much if the main narrator is so whiny? Do you think people are reading more for Edward/Jacob than for Bella? Just a thought.

    I thought the DA racism post was interesting too. People also seem to be taking issue with the fact Meyer is a Mormon, which I don’t understand. Judge the book, not the author.

    A bad book is a bad book, no matter if the author is old, young, fat, thin, an atheist, an alien, or a robot. Just like a good book is a good book, no matter what. Of course, people’s opinions will always vary as to what a good/bad book is, and that’s where the debate comes in. But I think some of the criticism for BDawn hasn’t been debate so much as attacks on Meyer.

    You have as much right to review a book as anyone else. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer or not. As long as someone reads a book, I think they have a right to comment on it.

    It’s the people who look at a cover or think romance books are just trashy without ever having read one that annoy me. :rolleyes:

  5. Chasity says:

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I can tell you the reason I kept reading Meyers books. I read to Eclipse just to see who Bella would end up with. Not that I didn’t know that she’d end up with Edward, but still the possibilty was there for her and Jacob. Just like I keep reading Janet Evanovich to see if Stephanie will ever choose between Morelli and Ranger. I just have this burning desire to know.

    I never liked Jacob. Edward was always the pull for me. I don’t mind Romeo and Juliet style writings, so I really like Twilight. New Moon was a different story for me though. I hated that one. There were plenty of times that I would get so upset, I literally threw that book at the wall. I trudged through it eventually.

    Gary’s hollering at me. Apparently there’s some in-game PVP (SWG) going on at the moment and my expertise is needed. I’ll gather my thoughts and post more later :)

  6. Jennifer Estep says:

    You know, that’s one reason I quit reading Evanovich. After 13 books, I felt like Stephanie should make up her mind already. (I’m a Joe fan).

    I just didn’t feel like Stephanie was *ever* going to grow up. She keeps making the same mistakes. The books are still funny, but at this point, I feel like I’ve seen it all before and know what the jokes are going to be several chapters ahead.

  7. Chasity says:

    After this last one, Fearless Fourteen, I may just quit reading them myself. It’s one thing to drag out the story, but it’s another to drag it on for 14 books. Get with it already and make her pick someone for goodness sake. I haven’t quite decided who I want Stephanie to end up with though, I like both Joe and Ranger.

    I agree 100% on those people who judge romance novels as being trashy. Personally, I think it stems from those awful bodice ripper covers from back in the 80′s and 90′s. I can remember the first non-category romance cover I saw. It was horrendous. I often wondered why my mom wasted her time reading that “crap”, because it couldn’t be a really good book with a cover like that. I learned very shortly that that was far from the truth. I fell in love with romances after I read that book.

    Essentially in my last post, I was getting around to making my point – debate the writing, not the author! I’m long winded, I know. :)

  8. Jennifer Estep says:

    A woman I work with also quit reading around 12 or 13. She felt like they were getting to be all the same as well. I like Joe, if only for the history he and Stephanie share.

    Yeah, I’ve seen some of those covers. And some books today still have really bad covers (and not just romance books). I look at some covers and wonder what the art department was thinking.

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