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Snark: You're Doing It Wrong

So I just read this review over on Dear Author for a m/m book and the reviewer gave the book a grade of F. I haven't read the book so maybe the story really is craptastic. But the reason I bring it up at all is because the review itself is snarky and--more unbelievably, at least to me--sarcastic. The few comments on the post seem to indicate that people find it funny. I found the review...distasteful.

Which made me think...what do other people think? Do snarky reviews turn you off? Does sarcasm in a review leave you feeling vaguely wtf? Or do you think it's a great style, makes you laugh? Do you think I'm too serious and need to lighten up?

Maybe it IS just me. But when I read a review, I'm reading for one reason: should I spend my money to buy this book? Reviews are--IMHO--a buying tool. I don't read reviews looking for a laugh. There are much better and far more effective ways to find amusement.

Which is not to say I've never found a review funny (*cough cough* Lbea *cough cough*) but different senses of humor being what they are, I generally don't find snarky reviews amusing. I find them to be an inefffective buying tool.

But again, I'm wondering if I'm in the minority with that. So what are your thoughts on reviews?

ETA: Usually I preface posts like this one with "As a reader..." or with "As a writer..." depending on what I'm talking about. But recently I realized how silly I was being. I am always both. BUT in this case I am talking purely about reviews of works by other authors. 


Jan. 11th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
I desubbed from DA a while back - not that they'll care - because of the tone of the site becoming more and more ... well, like this. Whereas I'd go to Smart Bitches for the Snark, if I felt like reading snark, I went to DA because I enjoyed their balanced reviews. even a D grade wasn't always necessarily a hatchet job, but an explanation of why the book didn't work - for them. It depresses me that they are losing that impartiality and are going for the "laughs" rather than the quality of the reviews.

I went and looked at the review after reading this post, and can only echo what some have said, that it seems to me that it seems like the reviewer is angry, and that is not a professional way to review in the first place - and that (especially in the "fun" way it's laid out - who bullet points a review?) it's simply the reviewer showing how funny they think they are.

As I say, it seems to be the way the site is going in recent days, their posts are unmoderated and they let people say the most vile things about other people without redress - and their livechats? Well, I'd better not comment.

It's not a review at all, but I hardly need to point that out. I've had to review books that I found pretty dire - have trundled out the "1 out of 5" mark once or twice, but even though I have, I've done so in a way that - I hope - wouldn't make anyone give up writing. There's something good to be found in any book, after all. A reviewer should realise that they are just that, nothing more than a "notice board" to share a book. They ain't rock stars no matter no many hits their site gets.
Jan. 12th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
I hadn't completely given up on DA, though I never read the comments. I appreciated Jia's and Jayne's m/m reviews. I liked the reviewing style. As you said, the reviews were always very balanced even if they gave the book a low grade.

I believe it's absolutely possible to write a negative review without ridicule or burning sarcasm. As a reader, I don't like reading those reviews. I don't think they are useful.

As a writer, well...I think a reviewer should be honest and make their points, and they should do that without being rude/cruel/nasty/etc.

I didn't know DA did a livechat. I can only imagine...*shudder*

Thanks for weighing in, Erastes! I really appreciate the thoughtful reply. :)

Edited at 2009-01-13 02:14 am (UTC)

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