Book Reviews -

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

by Joanne Elder

Book reviews are for the reader—right? No one wants to sit down and read a bad book. Just finding some R&R time to read a good book these days is painstaking enough. I love Science Fiction Thrillers (thus the name of this website). I write them and I read them, but how do I find a good one to pick up on a stormy night…I check out the reviews!

There are numerous excellent review sites for science fiction, some of which have direct links from this site. The problem is by the time you read the lengthy line-up of the good, the bad, and the ugly reviews, you’re eyelids are falling closed. Never mind starting to read the book you finally selected. Lucky for that awesome star indicator system, but even those can be deceiving: people have different tastes. So how do we find a great read?

For those of you who love Science Fiction Thrillers (and I mean thrillers—not just books where one character says BOO to another somewhere in Chapter 10), I intend to scour the reviews looking for the great ones that are true to this genre (suspense, murder, betrayal and…the harrowing chase). It will take time to build a stockpile of reviews, but I promise this—I will leave out the bad ones to save you time. If I review a bad book, I will not post it.

So why does anyone post bad reviews? If you read a one star book, why not toss it in the fire and say nothing? I’ve thought long and hard about this and here’s my take on the bad review:

Firstly, as I mentioned, everyone has different tastes. A dear friend of mine would sooner watch reruns of Masterpiece Theatre than a season of the recently retired 24. I’m the complete opposite. Unfortunately, reviews written by someone who doesn’t share your taste in a book can be virtually useless. Accordingly, you have to find a reviewer whose opinion you can rely on.

Secondly, I think bad reviews are as much for the author as the reader. As an author I cringe at the thought of a bad review, but if I do receive one, perhaps I can learn from it and use it hone my skills as a writer. In our lives, we must take criticism constructively. Having said this, I’ve read the odd book review that is just cruel and menacing, to the point that the reviewer loses their professionalism. Perhaps, these sorts of reviews get a chuckle. As for the author who spent several years writing and editing their book, they’ll have to have a thick skin and, above all, keep a sense of humour. Everyone has a right to an opinion and we must respect that.

In the meanwhile, keep reading! Hopefully the next book you pull off the shelf or download will be a good one. One final word: don’t discredit reviews from the reading population. Check out Amazon and Barnes & Noble and see what others have to say. The popular vote counts for a lot.

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