Friday, August 31, 2007

A Question of Taste #3: Not to Be All Judgy

I've heard it said the reviews reflect more about their author than the work being reviewed, and I think there's something to that. So, goodness knows what it means that I am about to review other people's reviews - again. I recognize that user reviews are opinions. These people are not professional reviewers, this is just a summary of their experience with the product. And I have found some reviews enormously helpful to me in making my choices. But oh man.
In the last two days, in looking at user reviews for books, I have found the following:
-I was unable to enjoy a book about such a slut, since I feel such a person must be a bit used up.
-Anyone who enjoyed all the drinking in this book is probably an alcoholic in need of intervention
Now, it is not my intention to start a flame war with the authors of these reviews. They of course have every right to express their opinions in the manner that they see fit. However, it seems to me that user reviews should be a bit less judgmental. I recognize the paradox in asking someone to share their judgment of a product without being judgmental.
For example, I was in a book store and was asked by a fellow patron about a book. I told her I had read the book, it was beautifully written, but ultimately since the main plotline was about the main character sleeping with her friend's boyfriend, I had been unable to fully enjoy it.
Now that's a really fine line, I realize. But I was trying to convey that I have trouble reading about characters who are unfaithful when that unfaithfulness is the whole plot. I recognize that infidelity is just as real (if not more) as many of the other crazy things I read about, but for me I have trouble with that and it affected my ability to enjoy the book, while I was able to recognize the lovely crafting. Just as there are statues and paintings I am able to recognize the brilliance in their crafting, but in the end would not want them hanging in my home.
So, while I appreciate people sharing the things that impacted their ability to appreciate the story, surely they could have expressed it in a way that didn't suggest that anyone who like the story must be an alcoholic, used up slut.

Note: Those are not direct quotes, and that is intentional on my part. They were on different books, and as far as I could tell were written by different people.