It seems to depend on the reader.
Majai’s Fury released two weeks ago and is up to three reviews. (Yes, I’d like more reviews. Leave a comment if you’re interested in a Kindle copy for review.)
I love all three points of view.
The first is from someone who also writes for the Christian market. She gave the novel 4 stars and commented on rich descriptions and interesting cultural devices, but she wishes to clarify that it is different in tone from my Farm Fresh Romances. She feels my readers need to know there is more sexual tension in Majai’s Fury but it’s still a clean read.
I appreciate that wording. I’ve been a bit concerned that people wouldn’t understand the whole different genre and different heat level. I’ve also tried to draw that difference to attention without pointing at it directly. After all, most of the readers in this world would laugh hysterically at the notion that this novel goes over the edge.
The second reviewer commented that she kept looking for the Christian content, but didn’t find it. She was looking for the half star button but gave the novel 4.
I love this review, too. While one of the cultures has a “one true god” and the other has multiple deities, I never capitalized the g. I never equated Azhvah with the God of the Bible. The Ghairlazhian religion draws somewhat from Old Testament Judaism, but the story is definitely not allegorical. If the God of the Bible is not mentioned or directly alluded to, how can there be “Christian” content?
The third review hits the nail on the head, for me. She rated it at 5 stars, but it’s not the number of stars that makes me appreciate this one. She says the story struck her deep in the soul and that it threw light on a person’s journey from legalism to freedom and joy.
This is something that speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc) can do in a fresh way. It’s much harder to pull off in real-world fiction, although it’s certainly possible.
In a fantasy novel, not everyone might see what the book is “about” in the same way. Some may simply enjoy the adventure, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, I submit most of us pick up a novel for that reason. We’re looking for an adventure or a thrill we don’t actually have to live through.
My Farm Fresh Romances allow readers to live on a farm and weigh out aspects of sustainable living without making any real decisions of their own. That’s okay. A few will find the stories deeply resonating and may make changes based on what they’ve read in fiction.
Even there not everyone finds the same story line. Many reviewers of Raspberries and Vinegar found Jo a little pushy but loved the story just the same, understanding that she needed to be that way for the story to work. Some had nothing negative to say about her. This book has recently had its first 1 star review (I think I’ve made it as an author now, lol) because she couldn’t get past Jo in the first few chapters. She found the character pushy and the tone preachy. In short, the reviewer found no redeeming features for the novel, at least as far as she read.
Certainly her perogative.
Does that negate the good others have said about the book? I don’t think so. It proves we all have our own history and expectations when we open a work of fiction. One novel cannot be “all things to all people.”
And so the question is, what’s the book about? The answer will be different for every reader. I think that’s what makes reading AND writing so much fun.
What about you? How much do existing reviews weigh in your decision to buy a book?
Lora Young says
Good post, Valerie. I’ve read (or tried to read) several highly praised novels that left me wondering why they were highly praised. Then I’ve read others that didn’t have stellar reviews, but I enjoyed them immensely. Perhaps when I read reviews, I need to adjust my buying habits accordingly. 🙂
Valerie Comer says
I often read reviews when I’m considering a new read. I admit to going for the low ones. Many times they will point out a problem with the book that isn’t a problem for me, but not always. I’ll usually read one or two of the glowing ones, as well. And I always read at least part of the Look Inside.
Barbara Kelly says
Yes, interested in a copy for review…..”(Yes, I’d like more reviews. Leave a comment if you’re interested in a Kindle copy for review.)” email@example.com