Terrible Reviews of Great Books: The Great Gatsby
There is no such thing as a universally loved book. Each month, we’ll feature a book from Time’s list of the best 100 English language novels of all time. From the nasty to the snarky to the downright absurd, we’ll highlight some of the strange reasons why some people hate these great reads. This month we’ll be taking a look at reviews for The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The Great Gatsby was first published in 1925 and is considered to be a great classic of twentieth century American fiction. In addition to making Time’s 100 list, it also is on Boxell’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It has 5,908 reviews on Amazon with an average star rating of 4.3. Only 4% of those reviews are 1-star reviews.
I first read The Great Gatsby when I was in middle school and I hated it with a great passion so I feel some sympathy for the 268 Amazon reviewers who gave it one star. Then I read it as an adult, when I had the capacity to better understand and appreciate the novel, and I enjoyed it much more. I love Fitzgerald’s flowery style of writing and find his prose beautiful. I do think it’s a strange choice to assign it for school reading since it is the sort of book that requires a level of maturity to fully appreciate. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that many of the one-star reviews were written by students who were forced to read the book before they were fully capable of appreciating it. Let’s take a look at a sampling of one star reviews (my comments in blue):
NOTE: I did not edit for grammar or spelling. All reviews were copied exactly as posted on Amazon. You can read all 1-star reviews here.
- This is among the worst books I have ever read, not because of the writing, which is quite good, or character development, which is also good. In other words, qualities that should result in more than a 1-star rating. I HATE this book because it is primarily just whining, and could be solved if Gatsby would just show some courage (a trait which he obviously has having “come up from the bottom”, as it were), rather like Wuthering Heights.
- If anything, this book is twilight without the vampires, which by the way is an equally horrendous affront to intelligent readers. Yes, because Fitzgerald wrote lots of sentences like… “You give me everything just by breathing.”
- Beautifully written, with careful, flowing language that, despite that, couldn’t make me like it. Stupid, shallow characters that drove me insane (seriously, why was that woman sobbing over shirts? Or was it ‘symbolic’?), and a plot that annoyed me. Seriously, if I wanted to read about a bunch of drunken, entitled rich prigs and their secret, snooty hidden world, I’d pick up one of the local gossip rags.
- Now at 70 yo I remember why I hated this crap for a book. Only elite academics would ever have urged people to read this crap…..after all these years, it is just something you “must” (gag) read. Maybe Fitzgerald should have had Gatsby say “crap” a bit more often…
- I’m not sure why this is such a classic. I didn’t care a whit about Gatsby. He certainly wasn’t great.
- If you’re a rich snob who can relate to rich snob problems, maybe you’ll like it. I guess if you’re from that time period maybe you could relate, but for the other few billion people in the world, it’s not very interesting. Also not a fan of Shakespeare, I’d presume.
- I got this book because they were making a movie from it and I thought that it would be great. The sign of all truly great literature. I was very mistaken. I need to be captured in the first few chapters and this was such a slow starter that I completely took it off my Kindle
- Sucked! Here are the shortcomings of this book in my opinion:
1. No pictures. Its hard to understand a story without pictures. A hint to Mr Fitzgerald if he ever plans to make a living as a writer!
2 Gatsby was in love with this girl Daisy who, In my opinion wasn’t very nice. The author should have put nice people in his book who make their money honestly and treat each other nicely. Nobody was very nice in this book!
3. The book was total rip off of a movie I saw a few years ago. They weren’t the same, but pretty darn close. This whole comment proves that parody is hard.
- I was forced to read this in Junior High School. I felt then and still do that it is inappropriate for anyone younger than 25 years old., (when in doubt about which punctuation to use, use both) and maybe not even then. Your complaint seems to be more with your teacher than with Fitzgerald.
- Aside from the Book of Mormon, this book is likely the most overrated work of fiction ever written. Fitzgerald pails in comparison to writers like George Orwell, John Irving, or Kurt Vonigut who don’t feel the need to fill (their pails?) their books with unnecessary over description. George Orwell said if a word can be cut out, always cut it out. Writing should be written how you talk and should come across easily. If this person’s writing is an indicate of how they talk, he should reconsider this last piece of advice. Fitzgerald’s abuse of description goes too far and neither makes him a genius or a good writer as many have elevated him to such levels. All it does is make his writing more tedious to read than a google user agreement. Fitzgerald’s entire life’s work is utter garbage.
- I wish more of the characters would have died. They all deserved it. These type of books are popular with the lemmings who wish they were rich, and so badly want the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I would stereotype these people as ones who also dream of living inside a J Crew catalog. Pul…eease! Our American society is materialistic enough as it is. Says the person who missed the entire point of the book. Maybe this reviewer skipped the last few chapters?
- Its sad that just because something is old that people automatically think its great. This book is a terrible bag of garbage full of nonsense. Its (one of my grammar pet peeves) not a classic its (again!!) just terrible crap that society thinks is good cause its (gah, you have officially killed me) old.
- if Fitzgerald had written this book properly (no extra junk I could care less about) it would have been EXACTLY two sentences long- “I’m rich.” and “Oh, boo hoo.”
We want to hear from you! Have you read The Great Gatsby? Was it worth more than a 1 star rating for you?