The Multiple-Choice Book Review

Amazon.com have added a system of drop-down menus for reviewers to use. This will be very handy for all those people who have read a book and gone to Amazon with the express intention of leaving a review, only to find themselves unable to think of any words.

There’s a summary here along with a useful graphic of the various menus:

amazonI’m pretty sure it could use a few more options. (You know, like how there may be other metrics to judge plot than ‘surprise!’, and how we distinguish that simple topic ‘writing’ in a slightly more nuanced way than okay vs good.) So, all-round helpful person that I am, I’ve come up with a few other drop-down menus Amazon could add, in order to bring us all to a real, close, yet fully multiple-choice understanding of every book ever written. I think this should cover it nicely.

What did this book make you feel?

  • Joy
  • Mild to severe discomfort
  • Wistful yearning
  • Sexual desire for a billionaire
  • Seething hatred of one or more characters / the author
  • Anomie
  • Weltzschmertz

Why do you think the author wrote this book?

  • To bring joy to humanity
  • Over-confidence
  • Couldn’t afford therapy
  • Demonic possession

Does this book include krakens?

  • No cephalopods, sea monsters or Lovecraftian beasts whatsoever
  • Some tentacular activity
  • HORROR IN THE DEEP

If this book was an animal what would it be?

  • Cute puppy
  • Fluffy kitten
  • Dragonfly, fragile yet iridescent in its beauty
  • Filthy lumbering hog
  • Kraken

What is this book worth to you?

  • Toenail clippings (discarded)
  • 1-3 hours of my time
  • Firstborn child
  • Later-born but secretly preferred child

How will the author respond to a bad review, in your opinion?

  • Obliviousness
  • Unconvincing gratitude
  • Flounce
  • Social media meltdown (two or more platforms)

What book should the author have written instead?

  • Her last one, over and over again, forever
  • This one, but with a different hero and maybe a different plot
  • One with pictures of cats
  • A much shorter one

What is your favourite colour? [This question is compulsory.]

  • Puce
  • Taupe
  • Madder
  • Gamboge

I look forward to seeing these enhancements to the multiple-choice reviewing experience, and welcome further suggestions in the comments.

_________________________________

KJ Charles is

  • a freelance editor
  • a romance author
  • inclined to sarcasm
  • going on holiday

 I’ll be back in mid April, see you then-ish. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. And feel free to swoon at the cover for A Fashionable Indulgence! (Loveswept, August, since you ask.)Fashionable Indulgence_03_04_15

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Anne Rice Vs Amazon: more on reviews (with flowchart)

Anne Rice, among others, is calling for Amazon reviewers to be forced to give their real identities. ‘The Interview with the Vampire author is a signatory to a new petition calling on Amazon to remove anonymity from its reviewers in order to prevent the “bullying and harassment” it says is rife on the site,’ says The Guardian.

There’s no point going into the stupidity of this because it won’t happen. It would cause the number of Amazon reviews to drop like a rock (silencing not just those who don’t want to be harassed, but also anyone who doesn’t want their parents, partner or potential employer to see what they’re reading), and if there’s one thing Amazon likes other than gouging for gigantic discounts and exploiting workers, it’s onsite reviews. So that’s not what I want to talk about here. What I’m baffled by is…

Anne Rice reads her Amazon reviews and gets upset by them.

Think about that for a moment. Anne Rice, who bestrode 1980s fiction like a colossus, with estimated global sales of 100 million copies, a movie with Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas and Christian Slater, a career spanning over 35 years – Anne Rice reads her Amazon reviews and gets upset by them.

I can’t italicize this enough. Anne Rice, who presumably has enough in the bank to spend the rest of her life on holiday, instead hunches over her computer and reads Amazon reviews. And gets upset. And encourages her own fans to attack negative reviews, because she cares that someone called HissingSid32 says stuff like:

I didn’t like this book because it was boring. That’s all that needs to be said. It was very very very very very very very very very very very boring. If you have to read this book shoot yourself first.

Oh, sorry, that’s not an Amazon review of Anne Rice, it’s of Anne Frank. That was what someone posted about Diary of a Young Girl.

Here are some other Amazon reviews:

I actually found it impossible to like or even dislike any character in this story. Everyone is quite boring, 1-dimensional, and stale. The result: an 800 page “masterpiece” about characters that are impossible to care about. (Anna Karenina)

 

I hated having reasonably high expectations for a so-called classic, only to have to suffer through a drab chain of non sequitur events, thoroughly lacking any explanations at all. (1984)

 

A great read if you suffer from attention deficit disorder, as the author must. That, or you’re a crackhead. Skips from one scene to another with no transitions, and no unity in plot. A disaster. (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

 

Amazon reviews for the best books you can think of all include this sort of genius. Go on, try it yourself, find me one single acknowledged masterpiece on Amazon.com without a one-star review. And it’s worth noting that these books have managed to struggle on, somehow, despite HissingSid32’s opinion. Anne Rice evidently feels her position is less secure.

Of course Ms Rice says she doesn’t want to stifle negative reviews or critical comment. She only want to silence the “gangster bullies” who the petition’s creator acknowledges are a “tiny minority” of Amazon users. But even if we take this at face value, she wants everyone to have to identify themselves publicly if they are to comment on a book, because of a handful of trolls who – and I can’t stress this enough – she chooses to read and to engage with in the first place.

The very definition of using a sledgehammer to crack some nuts.

 

In the hope of resolving this problem, I present a handy flowchart.

How Authors Should Deal with Negative Amazon Reviews

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KJ Charles doesn’t read Amazon/Goodreads reviews or harass reviewers, so say what you like about Remnant, a free story written with Jordan L Hawk and coming out 11 March!