We've all seen how a negative review can sometimes spark an outraged reaction on the part of the author, who retaliates publicly on the blog, catalyzing a whirlwind of response in the comments thread and a good deal of drama.
The author may have a legitimate concern, but all too often it seems that he or she thinks that they know best when it comes to their book. "How could you claim it was scary/boring/unevenly paced/demeaning to women?" they might ask. "That's not the book I wrote!"
It's understandable if the reviewer is cowed by this reaction. Authors' comments can be surprisingly inflammatory and defensive when it comes to their own writing, and the blogger might start thinking, "Did I get this wrong? Am I the only one who thought this? After all, So-and-So did write the book...I guess she should know..."
|Why yes, that WAS a Twilight reference! Nicely spotted.|
But when we're talking about what this book made you think and feel, then the author has absolutely no right to criticize your viewpoint. "That's not the book I wrote!" he claims, incensed. Perhaps not, but it is the book YOU read —and that's perfectly fine.
We are all experts somewhere in the process of creating a reading experience. Writers are the experts when it comes to the words they pen. Editors are the experts at manipulating those words. Publishers are the experts at packaging up those words and selling them.
And readers? We're the experts at reading those words.
|^^ this is you.|
No one knows better what the reading experience was like for you than you do. No one else knows what parts made you laugh, what scenes had you tensed up, what you wish had been written differently, what you couldn't understand at all. No one else knows the characters you loathed and the ones you loved. YOU are the expert on that.
So don't ever let anyone — an author, a blogger, the bookstore clerk, or even yourself — make you feel like less of an expert than you really are. Without readers, after all, there'd be no point to writing a book.
|A perfectly legitimate question that this reader has every right to ask.|