Five star reviews. Funny things…

Posted: October 22, 2012 in Publishing

I say this on the back of helping out on a writers workshop. For the record, as I’ve said before, anyone who uses the term ‘workshop’ and isn’t a carpenter is a twat in my humble opinion. But as I now live in a new area and they wanted me to attend, I did my bit. We got on to the conversation of  ‘Sock-puppeting’ and its pointlessness. One within the group asked about my all five star reviews. What he said was a very valid point, that most of my reviews have not reviewed any other books and it looks suspect. I explained that many who have reviewed are not usual ‘bookophiles’and bought on the back of word of mouth or readings. I made the point of how I’ve performed readings at surf/skate cafés and counter culture venues etc. So my reader wasn’t the norm.

I think you can tell the sock-puppet or marketing department paid-off reviews. Because they don’t sound like reviews, they sound like a nervous breakdown! “A sprawling, spiralling, spiritual, sensation – a book to read before you die!” A book to read before you die – what the fuck is that supposed to mean? Read it before you die? I think, if I was about to die, a good read wouldn’t be top of my list. I am not sure, but I am bloody confident paramedics don’t carry books as part f their kit. Maybe they do. If ever you have an accident and they give you a book and say “Here, read this” – you’re fucked! How are you supposed to get a review if you market a book to be read before you die? Wouldn’t you be a bit too dead to leave a review? More to the point, isn’t every book a book you read before you die?

But this got me thinking about the pointlessness of the Amazon reviews. Some things that get five stars are just bullshit. There is no consistency. You have one type via the internet who think that their opinion is so worthwhile, they contribute… even when they have nothing to say! There was an opinion poll, should Hillary Mantel have won the booker for the second time? 42% said yes. 39% said no. and a massive 19% said ‘They didn’t care’ – well, if you don’t fucking care, don’t take part on a poll you dick hole! Your not that fucking important to ruin a poll about something you don’t even care about. These are like the people, and you get them on goodreads too, who take the effort to log on, find what they have bought, click five stars but leave no review. Why make the effort then say nothing? What does that even mean? “Well, it was good… but not good enough to actually say anything about it!” cos it kinda says ‘Ahhh, fuck it, I’d just give it five anyways.’

The more I thought about it, the worse I felt about my five star reviews. In a life of failure, I thought that for once I had done right. If you are an author too – don’t do this. I started looking at other books that had five sat reviews. Mother fucker that is depressing.

Electricity pylon design 1980 to 2000… 22 five star reviews. Fuck off! How?
“A fantastic read – five stars” I want to find these people and kill them.

Elisabeth fritzel’s Diary & memoir has over 30, five star reviews. She lived in one room for 24 years and never went out. What the fuck could she possibly say that was that fucking amazing? I can imagine it:
Monday: Stayed in.
Tuesday: Stayed in.
Wednesday: Stayed in.
Thursday: Staid in.
Friday: Anal with Dad.
“ A beautiful, heart warming read.” Really? 24 years locked up and being fucked by your dad is beautiful?

Then you read the reviews of ‘Cloud Atlas’: Mitchell’s blending of so many genres into one larger whole is remarkable, its depth and scope allows subtle political undertones with which he handles so many different voices in so many different times is awe-inspiring. From the ancient, Melville style of the first section to the Twain-esque dialect of the sixth section, Mitchell carries all of these disparate elements of literature with almost sly ease, where the magic of such ability is in having it not seem like magic at all… three stars.
THREE? You total cunt! If I had written something as amazing as Cloud Atlas and got three fucking stars, especially after the review above… and ‘Electricity Pylons’ got five stars, I’d go on a killing spree.

I was asking myself ‘do these fuckers just give five stars to every fucking thing? So I kept looking. I found a book on suicide. I kid you not, a ‘Do it your self’ book on suicide. Of course it is a do it yourself book you shit heads, else it would be a book on murder wouldn’t it – even I know that, fucker! And, you guessed it – 5 stars. How? If it was as good as a five star review suggests, the reviewer would be dead, thus unable to give a five star review, let alone 14 of them. I might buy it just to give it a 1 star review. “Rubbish. Did what it said, and while I hurt myself rather badly, evidently, by my ability to leave this review – I am not dead.”
Better yet, there were 7 used copies! ON A BOOK ON SUICIDE? These also had five star reviews! HOW? How can you sell a ‘Do it yourself book on suicide’ second hand on Amazon and give it five stars and be alive? I keep wanting to see details: “Selling on behalf of my brother. A good book, as he is still dead.”

Even the affiliate book companies who just forward the second hand books get five stars? For what? Because they happened to stock a used book you wanted. That gets five stars? Some author’s life’s work. A painful out pouring, their soul written for you to read. Years of edits and self recrimination, and you give the fuckers who stick it in the post five stars.
“Little Maiden books – amazing service, I don’t know how they do it!” Do WHAT? Stick a fucking book in the post? Is it just me, but doing what you are supposed to do is not amazing!

Better than that, Amazon shows you ‘People who bought this also bought’ suggestions – one of the items someone had bought, who also bought the DIY book on suicide was WINGS! I wish I was making this shit up, but even I couldn’t think of something that funny. The more I thought about it, the more freaked out and stressed I got. I had to lie down, blood started coming out of my nose as I tried to think my way around of the wings thing.

I like to think that the chosen method of suicide was to jump from a tall building, were they thinking ‘You never know though, I might be able to fly!’ I secretly hoped they had a sense of humour about their suicide, and wanted to fool people into thinking they found a dead angel. Even the wings had 12 five star reviews. Wings, that you strap on your back, get five stars. WHY? HOW? I read the details and I promise you it said ‘For theatrical use only’ “Awww fuck, they are fake wings? There was me thinking with these I wouldn’t have to take the bus any more.” You shouldn’t have to put ‘for theatrical use only’ on costume wings. Anyone who thinks they can buy wings of amazon and they will work is so fucking stupid they should be allowed to jump of a high building and die. And there is a book for that. It should be good, it has five stars!

  1. Lisa Roy says:

    Crying at the suicide part. Love your blog posts

  2. Jonny, one of your best blog posts yet! 5, maybe even 5.5 stars! A blog post to read before you die!

  3. In fairness Jonny, that Electricity Pylons book is amazing….

  4. Had me reading and laughing instead of doing the writing and revision I came for. Your last few lines are the best!

  5. Thanks. This was fun to read. All the mudslinging aside, I still have writer friends who practically salivate when they get a five star review. And I won’t even let my family review me. I wrote a post about how I want 3 star and 4 stars, but five stars scare me. There is always room for improvement. Looking for your books now. Like your style.

  6. Rob Feorline says:

    Jonny, I’m late to the party, but great blog. I shared on this on Twitter since giving stars seemed to be a no-no. I’m going to self publish shortly … And will get totally high on any 5 stars reviews, no matter how twattish. Cheers Rob.

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