One Star Reviews Revisited

Because I think in the wake of Nebula and Norton nominations it’s relevant to do so, here are some snippets of one star reviews of my recent work, via Amazon:

The God Engines:

It is hard to believe that John Scalzi wrote this hot mess! Bad premise, bad plot, bad characters, bad ending – the only GOOD thing about it was that it was mercifully short! Please bring the REAL John Scalzi back!

This book, though beautifully written, did not hold my interest, and I didn’t like even one character in it. Darn.

Zoe’s Tale:

This is probably the only book I have returned to Amazon for a refund. It is really that bad. Bad, bad, bad. It is truly beyond belief that a writer of Scalzi’s talent would put this book on the market.

I’ve ready 5 other Scalzi novels, enjoying each, but couldn’t make it past 60 pages of Zoe’s Tale. It was that excruciating/boring. If John wants to write a novel like this, then fine, he should have written it as a stand-alone novel. He shouldn’t have tried to push it by tacking it onto the coat-tails of this franchise.

Zoe’s Tale contains so little action and is such a regurgitation of The Last Colony that I quickly resorted to reading it only on my exercise bike. Even pedaling away at 90 rpm, this book was barely engaging enough to keep my attention.

Yup, those are my works currently nominated for awards, folks.

Why do I bring up these terrible reviews? Oh, for the same reason I brought up my one-star reviews the first time I did a couple of years ago: I think it’s useful for all us writers to remember no one work pleases everyone, and you can’t make anyone like it if they don’t, and you can’t keep them from telling other people what they think of it, even if they hate it… and that’s fine. Learn to deal with it. Otherwise it doesn’t matter how much success or praise or satisfaction you earn through your writing, you’ll still obsess over those one-star reviews and it will eat away at your joy. That’s no way to live.

So: own your one star reviews, don’t let them own you. And once you own them, let ’em go. You’ll feel better, and you’ll worry less about them going forward. Try it for yourself. You’ll see.

71 Comments on “One Star Reviews Revisited”

  1. My thoughts, as a fan: I eventually had to conclude that most of my favourite authors have such a surfeit of ideas that every now and then a story or character I can’t stand sneaks into a book. But even if I really hate one or two of [e.g. Kim Stanley Robinson]’s books, chances are I’ll still love (and buy) the others.

  2. The interesting thing about hatchet jobs like this is the fact that they can’t find one redeeming quality in the book, not one. I’ve had reviews like that and I dismiss them out of hand. It’s like someone telling you their marriage broke up and it was 100% their spouse’s fault. Not likely.

  3. Kevin (#2), try to look at it from a reader’s perspective: sometimes you invest so much of yourself into reading a book–via cost, time, mental effort, empathy, determination, tolerance, setting aside and dressing a stage in your brain to envision an author’s world, etc.–that when it lets you down, you just don’t have the energy or perspective to articulate why. The book has already spent your civility and patience. You just want to vent.

    Granted, reviews like this are rarely helpful to others, except for showing the work was able to elicit a strong reaction–but I still find them interesting, and if you’re willing to analyze, sometimes there is wisdom to be gleaned.

  4. I rarely comment–but God, I love this post. There’s just no way to account for the range of response my work seems to provoke. So I’ve stopped trying. I believe in my work, and so I fight for it. Period.

  5. I occasionally read books that I dislike enough to simply stop reading, but I don’t think I’d bother to work up the energy for a 1-star review.

    On the other hand, I once read a book that was so bad that it was both physically and spiritually painful; the only reason I kept reading was that I was stuck on a train in Romania for 8 hours. (title withheld so as not to go off-topic)

    Though still, while I always warn people off if the series or the author is mentioned, I’ve never bothered to go on Amazon and 1-star it. Maybe others just have more energy than I.

    And indeed, a quick glance at Amazon shows a plethora of 1-star reviews. Ah, always nice to have ones opinions affirmed by others!

  6. Great! Now you tell me. I just order “The God Engines” too. Well, I guess I’ll force myself to read it. I’m a glutton for punishment.

  7. I’ve occasionally written 2 star reviews but I try to provide some reason I was disappointed. For example, Peter Hamilton’s Dreaming Void had a couple of flaws that just grated on me – no reason for the mass migration at the heart of the story and ‘science’ that seemed more like fantasy in places.

    A review is there to help other people – if it’s just venting, it’s useless to the reader.

  8. One star! That’s right! How d’ya like me now!

    For my memoir Bald in the Land of Big Hair:
    By Michigan Mom (Michigan) – “Rodgers writes this book from a Christian perspective–” [Erm…no, I didn’t. I used to be a Christian. Then I decided to follow the teachings of Jesus instead.] “–but she explains love making early in her chemotherapy treatment…I finished the book, and found this to be the most offensive bit. Negative attitude and raw language were scattered throughout, however.”

    For my novel The Secret Sisters:
    By McGarret “cpeterstx” (Atlanta, Georgia) –
    “Ms. Rodgers is a talented writer, yet I was so disappointed in this book. Ms. Rodgers indulges her obvious fondness for erotica and anal sex through the character Dalphine. I would not recommend this book for us Republicans/ conservatives out there. As most liberal FICTION authors insist on doing these days, the author inserts her politics into the story…a metaphorical, sociopolitical mess.”

    Booyah! Thank you, Mr. Scalzi.

  9. I have made only one 1-star review. (And yes, that even includes the pathetic Lost Symbol, which barely earned its second star.)

    That would be the Book One of the Signs Of The Zodiac series by Vicki Pettersson. The only benefit I gave this book is that it would be a better choice than any James Patterson novel.

    Small potatoes, certainly. Yet that is how low I place James Patterson’s dreck.

  10. I’m going to post my one-star review in my blog. So far, I only have one that comes with a dismissive write-up.

    However, Child of Fire did get a two-star review that opened with:

    The main characters are unlikable scum. The people the characters interacted with react unrealistically to allow them to do whatever they want. The author creates rules for his magic and then ignores them. The antagonist is a child killing monster and still more likable then the main character.

    And doesn’t get any better from there. I had to ask myself, what would I have to do to get a one-star review from this guy? Run over his dog?

    But, no matter.

  11. Thank you, you’ve reminded me to chase down something on my to-do list: get my favourite of my one-star reviews* (the one that instructed me to go get a job writing pocket-calculator manuals and spare the world my attempts at fiction), screenshot it, and print it on a T-shirt to wear to WorldCon.

    *The guy who threatened to beat me up** did so on a forum post rather than a review site, and technically isn’t eligible. Also, I think I lost the exact text of that one in a site crash.

    **Strictly speaking he didn’t threaten to beat me up, just said it was a pity he’d never meet me so he _could_ beat me up.

  12. My god, but that was the least subtly disguised pile of backhanded compliments I’ve ever seen. What, there were no criticisms that didn’t also laud you as a splendiferous maestro who lamentably has misstepped this one unfortunate time?

    Well, ok, that’s cool. I do applaud your willingness to own the one-star reviews, as you say. And the quotations are accurate to the context of the reviews they come from, although I did feel compelled to check after seeing that sample.

    Take away lesson: pay attention to selection/quotation bias.

  13. Some of those appear to be from people who like your work and/or respect you as a writer, John…and it doesn’t sound like they’re giving up on you. So, yay–silver lining to (some of) the 1-stars! ;-)

  14. I have to say that as a consumer I love 1 and 2 star reviews. They are the first things to check out when I’m hesitating on a product. If the weakest reviews fall into any of the following categories:

    1) Personal hatred of author/topic/whatever
    2) Trashing for the sake of trashing
    3) Incoherent rambling, bad spelling etc.
    4) Other *personal* reasons

    I those cases I can safely dismiss the criticism for obvious reasons that they are not particularly universally relevant and check out the higher reviews and try to sort through the fanboy and marketing stuff to see if something is worth buying.

    Case in point Mr. Connolly @ 10
    [blockquote]The main characters are unlikable scum. The people the characters interacted with react unrealistically to allow them to do whatever they want. The author creates rules for his magic and then ignores them. The antagonist is a child killing monster and still more likable then the main character.[/blockquote]

    I wasn’t actually planning to buy this book, as I read most of the big picture piece on this, and some other minor blurbs/excerpts etc. and I wasn’t particularly interested at the time. However, on the basis of that review it is clear that the book has the makings of something to be read when one is in a certain mood and/or in need of a certain kind of inspiration. I wouldn’t want to read it when I am sick and or stressed out, but it sounds much more interesting than it did prior to reading that excerpted review.

    Essentially unless someone is writing low review where they are doing a complete, well argued and detailed takedown of a writer’s ability to write, language use and the physical work (i.e. shoddy book construction) the low reviews represent the worst possible experience you can have with a work and/or sets a suitably low bar for expectations to exceed. This is a good basis to which to make purchases.

    Also, as a final point I notice a lot that low reviews often (ex. 4/5 of Mr. Scalzi’s reviews) are from people who liked an author’s previous work and were unhappy that his new, different work, wasn’t more of the same old, same old. Again, realizing that something is different from previous works by the same author before I pick it up is key to resetting my expectation bar for that author and will enhance my enjoyment (ex. Zoe’s Tale, Android’s Dream, Canal Dreams (after reading Culture novels), to name a couple).

  15. I hope I can one day develop the mammoth skin you seem to have, John. This looks like such a healthy way of dealing with reviews.

  16. Well, at least Scalzi made an indelible impression on their, for lack of a better word, minds, which is more than I can say about most self-published writers. I’d rather read an honest one-star review than a fabricated five-star review written by some self-published writer’s blood relative, or some hanger-on in some writer’s block support group, where self-published Lulu writers reign supreme, like Neil Gaiman at Anticipation, or like Scalzi at Claireon. An example of a lowly one-star jab; notice the typo? That said, I actually enjoy reading one-star reviews, enjoy psychoanalyzing them without all the gooey layers of bullshit you see in most five-star reviews. Five-star reviews? Fifty-percent of them were written by Pavlovian mutts . . .

  17. PS Only an idiot would bother to write a one-star review for a novel written by John Scalzi, edited my Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and published by Tor.

  18. That sort of review always makes me think of the Ex-Leper in Monty Python’s LIFE OF BRIAN…

    “Half a dinari for my bloody life’s story??”

    “There’s no pleasing some people.”

    “That’s just what Jesus said, sir!”

  19. Actually, the things that kept me from giving The God Engines one star as a fantasy story were…

    1. The writing. It is well written, with a story well told.

    2. The Characters. Interesting characters well limned in interesting situations.

    3. It’s science fiction. Damn the fantasy trappings, it’s science fiction. Calling TGE a fantasy is like calling The Lord of the Rings a novel. Only technically speaking can you call TLotR a novel, and only technically speaking can you call TGE a fantasy.

    Which leads to this conclusion: As a science fiction writer John Scalzi is a fine science fiction writer. As a fantasy writer John Scalzi is a fine science fiction writer. And that is why I cannot give The God Engines a single star.

  20. Joni

    That second review is pure gold. I’d buy the book sight unseen on that alone. I have no idea what the story is, but to get that response it must be, at the least, very stimulating.

  21. With your permission, I’m forwarding this to a friend of mine who, though she’s a damn good writer and one of the smartest people I know, gets completely devastated by a bad Amazon review. Thanks for the reminder, John.

  22. This is something I told a new colleague the other night about a hateful course evaluation. My feeling is that you have to dump the ones at the bottom and the ones at the very top (because some people are uncritical of anything), but only after reading through and seeing if there is anything you need to consider. But neither hatefulness nor hero-worship are useful, so it’s best to focus on the more considered reviews.

  23. JD Rhoades:

    Go right ahead.


    What you’re seeing in this batch of one-star reviews is me having been around along enough to have actual fans, who have certain expectations of my work. It’s less about the backhanded compliments and more about the unfulfilled expectations of what my work is supposed to be, which I find interesting.

    And in the case of TGE, not unexpected, since it is very consciously me writing in a style and in a genre I’d not written before. I went in expecting a fair number of “This is not what I come to Scalzi for” reviews, and got them.

  24. Riffing on the one-star reviewers, I was immediately reminded of Simon and Garfunkel’s “A Simple Desultory Phillipic”

    (hope this is a fair-use quote ….)
    I knew a man, his brain was so small,
    He couldn’t think of nothing at all.
    He’s not the same as you and me.
    He doesn’t dig poetry. he’s so unhip that
    When you say dylan, he thinks you’re talking about dylan thomas,
    Whoever he was.
    The man ain’t got no culture,

    But it’s all different strokes for different folks.

  25. You get enough reviews where a one star review doesn’t really hurt you. Alot of books will get 8 reviews and if the most recent one is a one star review, that is a killer.

    If I was to write a smart ass type book, I would probably take my one star reviews and put them on the book.

  26. A review that says a book is beautifully written but didn’t hold the reviewer’s interest actually makes me interested in the book in question, and inclined to buy and read it. I reason I’ll find it to be beautifully written, too–and maybe the characters and plot will hold my interest.

    A five-star review that says “Wonderful! Amazing! The best book I ever read!” is the sort of review that I discount because it’s not informative. I get that the reviewer liked the book. I don’t understand why. And I automatically discount the “best book I ever read!” claim.

    I’ve read quite a few books based on one-star and two-star rankings. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of them, too.

  27. My only thought is that the awards themselves are meaningless and not necessarily indicative of quality. A quick look at past winners and nominees over the decades speaks volumes.

    Sort of how in my field (computer science) people obtain all sorts of certifications and rankings. Experience has taught that those things are useless in determining the quality of the individuals work or abilities.

    But being able to let the bird fly at the detractors has its’ merits. I would imagine the size of your income from your work is more meaningful.

  28. The author says:
    It’s dark fantasy, actually.

    Spoilers? I dunno, but here’s a warning anyway.

    Huh. Interesting. I read it as dark post-singularity science fiction. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from theology, etc.

    I especially liked that one character you apparently used to poke your readers’ assumptions/prejudices (assuming I wasn’t reading carelessly and you did deliberately leave a defining characteristic ambiguous).

  29. Sorry, I tried to include some space between the spoiler warning and my comment, but it went away.

  30. Joni Rodgers @ 8

    For my novel The Secret Sisters:
    By McGarret “cpeterstx” (Atlanta, Georgia) –
    “… I would not recommend this book for us Republicans/ conservatives out there. As most liberal FICTION authors insist on doing these days, the author inserts her politics into the story…a metaphorical, sociopolitical mess.”

    Inserting politics into one’s fiction, while it is often done badly, is vastly preferable to inserting fiction into one’s politics.

    (Besides which, inserting politics into fiction is hardly a liberal monopoly. Ayn Rand. ‘Nuff said.)

  31. I just this piece of fan mail in my inbox, about my blog.


    It’s 100% 1 star review!

  32. I once began a Terry Pratchett review with a sheepish admission – I’d bought my first Discworld book for the shiny turtle on the cover. It was how I let the reader know not to take my opinion too seriously.

  33. <3 u.

    Someday I hope to be thick-skinned enough to laugh at my bad reviews too, but in the meantime it's nice to be able to laugh at yours. Thanks.

  34. In downloadable and social video games you churn through a tremendous number of reviews, and you can generate metrics to help you unpack the data.

    One thing that becomes fairly obvious is that successful titles tend to have lots of one and five star reviews with relatively few falling into the “mushy middle”.

    Intensity, not love, is the arbiter of success.

  35. TGE is one of those stories that reminds me that seemingly really nice people can have a wicked creepy week or six. I found it very powerful…and very disturbing.

  36. It’s odd to me that, in the world of Amazon, Powells, BN, Goodreads, Librarything, people can still not know when an author is writing a different kind of book as John’s done with TGE.

    Given all of the information available, I can’t take seriously anyone who buys a book where it’s billed as something different from the author’s main work and who then complains that it’s different. Um, folks? They call you readers… read the description.

  37. While I buy a great deal at Amazon (mostly DVDs, occasionally books), I rarely review there. And I try to be specific about my reasons for negative reviews.

    In the case of one DVD, the digital “remastering” was of such poor quality that I commented I’d seen better audio and video on antique 8mm home movies. Even then, I gave it 2 stars rather than one.

    And there was one book, excellent (in my opinion, anyway) and quite well known, which I won’t identify here, which I “downgraded” from 5 stars to 4 with the warning that the particular version involved was in unusually small print, not a blessing to us older folks.

  38. RickWhoIsNotThatRick @ 40:

    Given all of the information available, I can’t take seriously anyone who buys a book where it’s billed as something different from the author’s main work and who then complains that it’s different. Um, folks? They call you readers… read the description.

    There are a few writers whose new work I might buy without reading the description. But obviously, if I didn’t then end up liking it for a reason spelled out in the description, that’d clearly be my own damn fault.

  39. Apart from the first one, even if I had the reactions that people describe they had to these books, I’d probably still give them two stars.

    I guess somewhere in my head, I still think of F grades and one star reviews as something you reserve for “jesus christ, you just wrote mein kompf!!!” or “this text was so actively awful that it filled me with throbbing, furious hate.”

  40. I only write a 1-star review for a book that is so bleeding bad that I either can’t finish it, or once done, whish I hadn’t bothererd.

    Anyway, I started thinking, and looked up books on Amazon that I know are bad. Not just “Mark thinks this is bad” but “everyone thinks this is bad.”

    I will Fear No Evil currently has more 5 star reviews that 1 star reviews. ???

    Everyone knows Bob Heinlein was sick as a dog when he wrote it, turned it in late, and it never got edited. I could see at the most a 3-star that said “there are interesting concepts here, but it needs a good editing and tightening up.”

    But 5 stars?

    I have now lost all faith in Amazon reviews.

  41. My entire YA series got blasted in a one-star review, and it is by far one of my favorite reviews. Why? Because the woman wanted to burn my books. I find that so cool! Here it is:

    “Terrible………My teen boys love to read so I am always looking for a good series. I typed in teen fiction and this series popped so I bought all of them. After they were almost done with the series, I asked them what it was about. By the time their description was over I felt like I wanted to throw up. What had I subjected them to? I couldn’t believe the gore details they described. Sure that I had not subjected my Sons to this type of disgusting reading, I had them read aloud. I made them stop and took the books away. I cannot believe that these were in the teen section. Gross, Gore, Evil, Blood, Guts……….I’m so full of regret that I had ever bought these. The series should not be listed anywhere near teens. In fact, it should be labelled with a parental advisory. I think I’ll burn the books. I will use much more discretion with my selections from now on!”

  42. I think (and from what he says it sounds like Scalzi thinks) that it is perfectly possible, moral and right for some people to have a 1 star opinion of Scalzi’s work. I have 1 or 2 star opinions about books/authors that have won the Hugo/Nebula/Eroticon 6 award. I have 1 star opinions about some of the books of my favorite authors or for books that some of my favorite writers have recommended. In my lowly, acephalic opinion, the amount of love that John MacDonald’s mysteries have received from a mega list of cross genre superstars is perhaps the question that 42 is the answer to; his work is just so awful and yet he was grokked by a whole generation of intelligent, articulate cromulent people. So I applaud John’s gesture here on all its many levels, but I also respect all of these people for having an opinion and not being afraid to say “it stinks” on their tiny Amazon megaphones.

  43. @rw – You’d think she would do a little bit of research BEFORE purchasing all the books, instead of waiting until after her boys were almost done reading them (and of course they would focus on the blood/gore/evil when telling her about them – they’re teenage boys! That’s what they like!). Sounds like poor parental planning to me…..

  44. I have to say, I despise the phrase “hot mess” and would really like to bitch-slap the person who made it popular.

  45. …I needed this. My non-fiction book (first time out, probably the last for a good while, link deferred until next Pimp Thread) is out on Monday.

    While I know that not everybody will like it, it will be a little tough to choke down the “I spent a good part of a year on that and I’ll never get it back, where do you get off?” reply. But… there are people who can’t stand Salinger or Hemingway or Faulkner (like me), so it’s likely that there’ll be people who can’t stand me, either.

  46. I used to be a Christian. Then I decided to follow the teachings of Jesus instead.

    Inserting politics into one’s fiction, while it is often done badly, is vastly preferable to inserting fiction into one’s politics.

    One thing that becomes fairly obvious is that successful titles tend to have lots of one and five star reviews with relatively few falling into the “mushy middle”. Intensity, not love, is the arbiter of success.

    Man, there are some great quotes being posted today.

  47. @tariqata #1 on KSR

    ditto. I wonder if they are the same 1 or 2 that I like less well.

    As for the God Engines, I did not think it would be my cup of tea, and it was not. But that reflects less on the quality of the tea than on my taste, or lack thereof.

    I did once post the following on a three star review of a non-fiction book.

    Disclaimer: I cannot assess the quality of the book, because it puts me to sleep every time I pick it up. Great cure for insomnia.

  48. What is Dark Fantasy?

    Is that when they don’t have magically bright torches or even a magic hovering ball that follows them around? What about Night Sight?

  49. I love this one:

    “This book, though beautifully written, did not hold my interest, and I didn’t like even one character in it. Darn.”

    Leaving aside the quality of the book (which I have not yet read), the review is pure poetry!

    It’ complimentary, but so quietly disappointed.

    Great job!

  50. Mark @ 44,

    I have no faith in Amazon reviews either. Look up “Unintended Consequences” by John Ross.

    Check out the 1 star review from “Mr. Smith.” It’s pure genius.

  51. a305w @ 35

    I commend your dedication to the cause; live blogging the carnage of PublishedAuthors needs a stronger stomach than mine, but keep up the good work!

  52. I have noticed lately that one star reviewers, give reviews for reasons other than the quality of the book. I have seen several ebook whackos posting 1 star reviews on all McMillan books. I noticed on Barnes and Noble one guy complaining that Game Change (non-fiction) is not on ebook and gave it one star.

    I have seen other reasons for one star reviews that are not really applicable. They complain that the book does not do X, when that has nothing to do with the book. This doesn’t matter when you sell well, but for the guys with 8 reviews, a couple of 1 star reviews kills.

  53. Must be the day for it. I posted the Publishers Weekly negative review of my upcoming novel, The Fallen, on my blog. I’ve had a couple glowing reviews, so there are worse things than to have one person snipe at your work.

  54. One star reviews do not necessarily kill a book. Take a look at Robert Goolrick’s bestselling The Reliable Wife (pub. Jan. 2010)… currently 77 one star reviews contrasted with 92 five star reviews. I wonder what that author is thinking/feeling? If he’s reading, my sister and I both enjoyed the book (gothic, erotic, with a little bit of arsenic mixed in).

  55. Wow, I must not be cut out to be a writer. I quit blogging because I got disgusted with the commenters. (The fact that it was somebody else’s blog and I couldn’t just nuke the lot of them didn’t help.) I can’t imagine taking that kind of abuse for something I’d actually spent more than a half hour to write.

  56. Amazon reviews aren’t a measure of how good something is: they’re a measure of how well the “population who’s into this sort of thing” matches up with the “population of people who were convinced to buy this book.”

    Notice the recurrent “I love Scalzi, but…” When an author writes something in a different style, reviews suffer, because it creates a dissonance between the people who would like that style and those who buy the book based on the author’s previous style.

  57. #29


    TGE reads like science fiction. After 40 years of reading science fiction and fantasy I can say with all honesty that The God Engines reads like science fiction.

    Good science fiction, and more importantly, a good story. You present more world building and world setting in a few thousands words than many others get into millions.

    But I can’t call it a fantasy. Certainly not a straight forward fantasy, for such has a very different feel. A fantasy would start out something like…

    The god stared hard at the priest, promising harm to the eclesiastic should he, the god, ever get free of the restraints binding him.

    Both genres have their patterns, their forms. Both have tropes peculiar to them, and while these may have some degree of overlap, how they are used differs. Dark Fantasy TGE may be, but it reads like science ficton.

    All that said, I’d sooner read a good science fiction story pretending to be fantasy, then a bad fantasy story.

    I notice things other people tend to miss, it’s all part of my Aspergers. But don’t think I didn’t enjoy the tale simply because I disagree about the kind of story it is. One day you’ll pen a traditional fantasy story, and it will be good. I say that because I trust you to do your best, and your best is pretty damn good. For now let me say I find TGE a damn fine SF story on fantasy themes.

  58. *

    This is obviously one of the worst blog posts I have ever read. If Scalzi would stop wasting his and my time on this blog, maybe he could write better novels.

    Of course if he did that, I wouldn’t have this blog to come check out twice a day.

  59. R. W. Ridley said: “My entire YA series got blasted in a one-star review, and it is by far one of my favorite reviews.”

    Aw, man. I’m very nearly the wrong side of 30 now, but somewhere inside of me there is still a teenage boy who reads Robert Muchamore and Patrick Ness and a whole bunch other YA books, and he thought that review you quoted made your books sound awesome. I think I’ll be giving the first one a try now, at the very least.

  60. I got a one-star review when I was in the Navy. A perfectly straight 1.0 on a scale of 1 to 4. According to my supervisor, I was totally useless in every respect, from job performance to personal grooming.

    That review was just enough to disqualify me for an unconditional honorable discharge. Now *that* was a one-star review that was hard to live with.

  61. Hi Mark,

    Sorry it took so long to get back…

    My _main_ point is that the one star review for Unintended Consequences by “Mr. Smith” is brilliant. It gives potential readers a perfect, substantive, explanation for why that reviewer did not like the book.

  62. In a weird way I cherish my 1 star reviews because as a writer it means I communicated. I write edgy erotic romance and erotica and if I didn’t make you think or make you a bit uncomfortable, I don’t think I’ve achieved my aim. I also get a lot of that knee jerk reaction from people who read the book, enjoy it, and then feel bad about enjoying it, so they have a rant at me because its obviously my fault. You just can’t win with everyone, but, getting a reaction, even if it is a negative one is surely better than being ignored. :)

  63. I read Richard Morgan’s Steel Remains because of the author and not the subject. I’ve loved his other books and was kind of meh* about this one. I could see someone expecting something like Thirteen giving this a one star, but I think you could tell by the blurb and the cover that it’s something completely different.

    *very well written, but the magic and gay sex didn’t work for me.

  64. My novella, ‘Self’s Blossom’ got a really bad review in Rites of Romance Reviews, but it also got some 5-Star ones, eg in Miz Loves Books. Have a look at the selection in Good Reads