Best Bad Reviews – Part 2

thumbs_down Before I review any series, I like to see what other readers are thinking about in relation to the individual books within the series, so I read their reviews. Well not all books within a series are well liked and occasionally I come across some really good negative reviews that I can’t keep from laughing out loud or at least smile about, so I thought I would share a few of them with you too.  As the poet John Lydgate would say, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.


Here is a review of JT Ellison’s A Deeper Darkness from Lisa on Goodreads.  It seems that Lisa has ‘indecision disorder’ when it comes to this book. I stayed with this book through 3 library loans and finally finished it. I really tried to like it, but it was fairly confusing and actually quite unbelievable. I would like to read another book by this author to see if I like it.


A review by Eric from Goodreads on Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs’ Cemetery Dance. Need I say more. This book made me regret ever having learned how to read.


Alane Ferguson’s Christopher Killer is part of the Forensic Mystery series but Meagen from Goodreads was surprised that there were autopsies involved. This book was kind of interesting, but it also sort of grossed me out. The main character wants to be a forensic pathologist, so she talks her dad into letting her be his assistant by helping him check out crime scenes, and attending an autopsy (sick!). I wasn’t super interested in finishing it, but I can’t stop a book in the middle, so I had to, haha.


You can tell that Sharon from Goodreads is obviously a Star Trek fan after reading her review of Tim Down’s Chop Shop. It seems if you are a childhood friend of Nick’s, watch out. You’re like the Star Trek crew member in the red shirt.


Here is a review by Clayton from Goodreads on Alane Ferguson’s Christopher Killer.  Captain Crunch you better watch out! the Christopher killer is about a cereal killer and this detective has to find out who it is. what the detective doesnt know is that the cereal killer is trying to get to her.


‘If you like Tess…’ from Amazon gave Tess Gerritsen’s The Mephisto Club a 1 ratingIt seems that her review is a bit of an oxymoron. this is a great book – story gives a different slant on the TV portrayal of the characters – but a great read


Beth from Goodreads gave Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo a 1 star rating.  Mom knows best. My mom got this for me, I guess because the word “tattoo” is in the title, so she assumed I’d like it.


This a review of Keith McCarthy’s The Final Analysis by Kathy on Goodreads.  It is not a bad review, in fact the opposite, but it did make me laugh. Oh Keith! Where have you been all my life!? I adore your writing, I adore ALL your characters, I adore everything about your books. They are smart, funny and have the twistiest plots I’ve ever heard of. Marry me and I will give up all my affairs, including but not limited to Capt Von Trapp, Raylan Givens, Frank Langella, Jamie Frasier, Walt Longmire and that Sam guy) Okay, if it too soon for that, just let me watch your eyes glitter as you compose your stories. I even want to read the out-takes. I’ll bet you can make a grocery list dazzle.


Wendy, Lady Evelyn Quince from Goodreads rated Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo a 1 star for being too boring.  After reading her review, I wondered how could she tell? It was late and I needed to find a book to read. Tomorrow I was due for a long, boring car ride and needed something to pass the time. I perused the books on my shelf. There were countless of paperbacks: trashy bodice rippers and old-time historical romances, mixed in with a plethora of newer Harlequin Presents and Science Fiction anthologies. There was “UC Davis’s Book of Dogs: A Complete Medical Reference for Dogs and Puppies” or “The Seven Language Dictionary” (with French, German, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian words translated into English). There lay a copy of Anne Tyler’s “Breathing Lessons,” for which she had won a Pulitzer Prize. Next to it was “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor,” by the renowned thespian Bruce Campbell. Of course I might yet again read “The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre.” No? Perhaps then Paulina Simons’ “The Bronze Horseman,” a thick 800+ page epic in World War II Russia with even a Q & A reading section at the end. Hmm? No. None of them would do. I would require audio for this lengthy trip and knew that thanks to the mighty technical wizards at Apple, I would be in good hands. I sat on my faux-leather Staples chair at my scuffed, pressed-board desk and turned on my ancient HP desktop with a flickering 15” Dell flat-monitor. I perused the web with my cordless Microsoft mouse and wireless keypad. While the mouse took AA batteries, inconveniently the keyboard took AAA which I did not always keep in stock. I connected my three-year-old metallic green 16 GB iPod to my iTunes account to look for something I could listen to on a long monotonous road trip. My iPod had a capacity for up to 4,000 songs and up to 24 hours of audio playback on a single charge. It had a 1.54-inch (diagonal) color TFT display with 240-by-240-pixel resolution (220 pixels per inch). Support for AAC, Protected AAC (iTunes Store), MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV audio formats. It had only come with a one-year limited warranty. I had not taken advantage of the extended warranty and was worried something might go astray. I had wanted to use my husband’s newer iPod, the Apple iPod nano 16GB Green (7th Generation) with a 2.5-inch Multi-Touch color display with 240-by-432 pixel resolution. This was only 5.4-mm thin making it the thinnest iPod ever and had easy-to-use controls to quickly adjust volume, or play, pause, and change songs. Accessible to Bluetooth 4.0 and weighing in at only 1.1 ounces and 3.8 x 3 x 1.9 inches model, it was compatible with MD478LL/A Windows XP (SP3);Windows Vista; Windows 7;Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later. Unfortunately since I could not find the specialized adapter for that particular iPod, I was forced to use the older model. I logged into my iTunes account and downloaded Steig Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” onto my older, yet still efficient, iPod. The iPod had been developed in 2000 but not placed on the market until 2001. I was born in 1977 so I would have been 23 or 24 back then. Now, the time was late summer of 2014, and since I was born in autumn of 1977 I would be 37 in two months. I grew up in Port Jefferson Station, NY but was born in the neighboring village of Port Jefferson as Port Jefferson Station had no hospitals, while Port Jefferson had two: Mather Hospital and St. Charles. I was born in St. Charles Hospital, as Mather Hospital did not tend to natal needs (neither pre- nor post-), and is now renowned for both its cardiac and bariatric surgery centers (fortunate, no?) Incidentally, an American Rock Star named Elvis Aaron Presley donated some funds to St. Charles Hospital’s many years back, as attributed to him on a 1×4-inch plaque located on the wall near the back elevator. (I would insert a joke here, but Larsson’s writing doesn’t allow for much humor. He was very serious. Before I ever saw a picture of him, I knew he’d be a dough-faced man-boy, with steel rimmed glasses.) Port Jefferson was called Drowned Meadow back in the days of the American Revolution. It lies on the Long Island Sound, and on a clear day you can see Connecticut several miles across the water. The Port Jefferson, NY/Bridgeport, CT Ferry line has hundreds of travelers each day, thousands more during the busy summer season. My parents once took the ferry from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport soon after they married. They were married in 1976. As I was born in 1977, that would have made me negative 18 months old at the time. I don’t remember much of it. Anyway— NO! I can’t do it! I did not like this book enough to get that snarky about it. It bored me. And then angered me, and then bored me, and then angered me because it was boring me. I’m not that talented a reviewer to skewer a book I hate by launching into an insightful parody. I will however launch into an inciteful tirade! I found BR Meyer’s “A Reader’s Manifesto an Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in the American Literary Prose” to be a useful gauge in analyzing the Girl w/ the Dragon Tattoo. No, TGwtDT was not published in the US, but it did become a blockbuster-literary-phenom here, so I feel using that book is appropriate. What differentiates books like “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” from other lengthy blockbusters like, say Gone Girl is that the former takes itself much too earnestly to be appreciated. TGwtDT is a bestseller, yes, but it deals with a serious topic that NO OTHER BOOK has touched: violence against women! I read a review of TGwtDT that derided readers who complained the book was too slow, and chided readers for not knowing how to skim over the unimportant parts! That’s how REAL readers read, don’t you know! Look, I’m no speed-reader, but I’m a believer in that words have meanings. They exist for a reason. If I skim a lot, it’s a sign that the author has lost my interest. This belief seems to be confusing for some. Like the literary critics in Meyer’s manifesto write: “‘If anyone has earned the right to bore us for our own good, it’s [NAME REDACTED],” writes Salon Martha Russo. “Since [HE] is smarter than we are,” intones John Leonard in the New York Review of Books, “trust [HIM].” Such is the early 21st century mindset about LITTER-A-CHORE. Since I do not own the physical version of TGwtDT, and don’t intend to everagain listen to the audio, I cannot quote verbatim from his book. So I will borrow from Myer’s manifesto when he criticizes Cormac McCarthy’s tiresome writing from one of McCarthy’s later works: “He ate the last of the eggs and wiped the plate with the tortilla and ate the tortilla and drank the last of the coffee and wiped his mouth and looked up and thanked her.” Replace eggs and tortilla with sandwiches and bread and add in even more copious amounts of coffee, and there you have about 10%-15% of Larsson’s book. It’s tedious. As TGwtDT deals with rape and murder, it’s not unusual that there would be explicit scenes depicting this. (view spoiler) These scenes are written in a slightly horrific, yet detached manner. It’s not these scenes that I question; it’s the revenge scene that follows. (view spoiler) This scene is supposed to be critical to the novel as it shows the true nature of Lisbeth and the depths she is capable of. (view spoiler) Many years ago I read Jane De Lynn’s Some Do where a similar scene is portrayed. (view spoiler) Some Do was written by an American woman in the 1970s and TGwtDT was written by a Swedish man in the 2000s and there was just a vast difference in the way the parallel scenes were depicted. One was written with a raw anger beneath it, filled with a sentiment of “We’re not taking this anymore! We will fight back and hurt you worse if you hurt us!” Larsson, it seems, wrote his book as an aggrieved male figure for all the violence committed against woman by men as a dark-revenge fantasy. (view spoiler) As a person, I can’t judge Larsson, but as a reader judging an author, I certainly can. His character of Lisbeth is not a true woman: she is an amalgam of all that is cool and “ballsy” about women in media: a cartoon/manga/movie/porn version of what a “kick-ass woman” is. Ironic that in a book originally titled “Men Who Hate Women” Larsson used a female protagonist who is a caricaturized version of post-modern ideal femininity to conquer all the bad evil men. (Or perhaps Larsson WAS so smart he knew exactly what he was doing? Maybe. Even so, I didn’t care.) Eh, if you’re going to market a mass-murder/rapist book as feminist theory, at least make it a teeny bit based in realism. And interesting. And I apologize to Dan Brown for all the mean things I said about him. I won’t take them back, because they’re true! But in the literary sense, I should have kept it all in perspective. There’s being a hack who knows he’s a hack, and then there’s being a hack that’s pawned off as some literary genius. And then there’s the fact that he died relatively young, so like Kurt Cobain, no one can EVER complain about Larsson’s talent. Ok, that last part WAS cruel. But I won’t take that back, either. Awful, awful and boring. ½ star

If you come across any interesting bad reviews on thrillers let me know and I can add it to the list. 

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