Terrible reviews of great books
There is no such thing as a universally loved book. Each month, we’ll feature a book from Time Magazine‘s list of the best 100 English language novels of all time. From the mean to the funny, to the downright absurd, we will highlight some of the strange reasons why some people hate these great reads. See what we picked for our first book.
For our first book, I thought we’d feature one that most people have read: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I personally loved this book when I was in school. I read it again as an adult and still loved it. It has almost 8,000 reviews on Amazon and only 2% of them are 1 star. Many of the naysayers complain about having received the wrong book or the wrong format but there are some gems among the reviews: people who didn’t understand the book, angry students forced to read it for school, and some who raise legitimate critiques.
Below are excerpts from some of my favorites with my comments in blue (you can read all of them here):
- “I would be reading it, hoping that soon there will be that twist, but even when I got to it, the story kept being slow. To me, this book was drawn out, dry, and a waste of my time.” True, Harper Lee is no M. Night Shamalan.
- I” do not enjoy reading speech in dialect. Why not just write in normal English?” To hell with trying to be genuine and use language that fits your book’s content. If it’s not written exactly in the way I speak, I hate it. And, what exactly is “normal English?”
- “Wasn’t that excited, liked the movie better.” Says that kid in school who always watched the movie to write their book reports.
- “I hated this book the first time I read it years ago. Was stupid enough to buy it again and had to make myself finish reading it. Then I promptly put it in the garbage can. So much for that!” I applaud this reviewer for acknowledging that they only have themselves to blame.
- “In my opinion, there was too much dialogue and the story moved too slowly to keep my interest.” I personally hate books with too much dialogue. I like my characters mute.
- “It was the same old, same old plot. Maybe Lee originated it, but that doesn’t matter.” Actually, if she did “originate it” then that it’s not the same old plot.
- “The title says it all.” That it’s about killing mockingbirds? “I was forced to read this book in the eigth grade, along with Romeo and Juliet and Things Fall Apart. Before you get on my case, let me just say this: the book is boring. Say what you will, but this never picks up. It starts out with Scout talking about how her brother once broke his arm. Who cares? The book’s most exiting part is extremely confusing, and don’t tell me I’m stupid; I have an IQ of 140.” Hmm, call me skeptical. “I personally prefer books that have something called action, such as Michael Chricton [sic] or Stephen King novels.” Now I’ve moved beyond skeptic.
- “This is was a pitiful book with little substance except for those people out there who are so racist that they will support things just BECAUSE it promotes other races…which is really prejudice…” Yup? To Kill a Mockingbird – legendary racist propaganda!
- “All the book consists of is a middle-class family in the south with a few weird neighbors. I mean come on. Who really cares about a little girl that goes around the neighborhood doing things like spying on her albino neighbor. If that makes a book a classic, shame on you. Atticus against all odds is always fair and never makes anyone mad. He deals with all disputes perfectly. A wee bit too good to be true.” This person will probably really like Go Set a Watchman.
- “I find no point in writing a book about segregation, there’s no way of making it into an enjoyable book. And yes i am totally against segregation.” I hear you friend. I’m also totally against segregation. Who wants to read about stuff like that? It only brings you down I personally like to ignore all things that make me sad.
- “If your gonna write a book, give more detail please. I’m getting so fed up with it i just got the cliff notes. By the way, DO NOT BUY, because if i find it in your house i won’t think to kindly of you.” My guess is that if you see my bookshelf, you’ll hate me for more than just owning Mockingbird. Or perhaps you’ll just hate me for my spelling abilities…
We want to hear from you. Have you ever given any 1-star reviews? If so, for which books and why?