Thanks to the internet, nowadays the old expression “everyone’s a critic” is more apt than it has ever been. Take me as an example. You don’t have to go terribly far in my previous entries to find my opinions of movies, television shows, music, etc. etc.
When I was younger, I would relish “taking down” works I considered deeply flawed. Looking back at my attitudes, I can’t help but wonder why I found such relish in doing so. I don’t think I was being a contrarian…I found enjoyment in many popular -and not so popular- films. On the other hand, there were beloved blockbusters that I couldn’t believe or understand were popular (one big example is the original Star Wars) while there were plenty of more obscure films that didn’t pass my taste test.
The other day, I received my first truly “negative” review of one of my books. The review was posted on Amazon.uk and the poster, D. J. Ketchin, was reviewing my short story collection Shadows at Dawn. The book has received only two reviews so far, the first by Puna J. on the regular (U.S.) Amazon.com (4 out of 5 stars) and Ketchin’s (2 out of 5 stars).
The two critics offer clearly different, yet at times, interestingly similar opinions of my work. On the similar side, they both feel the short story collection was too short. I can completely agree with that. Shadows at Dawn is a slight book, even if it does feature 14 complete stories (15 on the Kindle version). Then again, of the books I have available via Kindle, it is priced at a very low .99 cents (this comes to a little over 6 cents a story).
Their second point of agreement they appear to share is that both were more interested in reading the science fictional stories than the mystery ones. D. J. Ketchin states it bluntly: “too much of a crime emphasis for me.” Puna offers a somewhat similar take, stating “only about half a dozen of these stories qualify as science fiction”. Puna is indeed quite right, of the 15 stories presented, 7 were “mystery” stories, only very slightly less than half.
Though the two share essentially the same opinions of Shadows at Dawn, their conclusions wind up diverging considerably. While Ketchin felt that there was “too little sci-fi” and therefore the book was “too dull”, Puna felt that the stories, despite not being as science fictional as she wanted, were “all good. I am glad I gave this book a chance and read it, it was worth my time.”
Two readers that I assume are on either side of the Atlantic offering two similar -yet ultimately very different- opinions of my short story collection. I’ve noted before of my suspicions upon seeing certain books filled with hundreds of (mostly) glowing reviews. I know there are those who can be paid to “bump up” the number of positive reviews on a work.
Myself? I enjoy reading well thought out reviews of my works. Clearly I would love for whatever I write to be universally adored and net me millions upon millions of fans…but realistically, I know that whatever I do, however much work I may put into it, there will be those who like it and those who read the exact same thing and it just isn’t their cup of tea.
So thank you, Ketchin and Puna for your opinions of Shadows at Dawn. Even if one of you didn’t like it as much as the other, I’m nonetheless pleased to have “real people” out there reading my works.
And, Ketchin? I’ll try better next time… 😉