A while ago, I went dumpster-diving in Amazon for bad reviews of good books. As I'm still recovering from a winter chest bug, and consequently not up to anything cognitively challenging, I thought I'd share some more with you.
The methodology is simple: (a) Think of a famous book. (b) Look it up on Amazon.com. (c) Cherry-pick the one-star reader reviews. (d) Mockery ensues.
It's cruel, I know, but what can I say?
Let's start with "Sense and Sensibility" ...
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen:
a customer opines:
It is a great pity they allowed her to die a natural death.
The story is about 3 daughters and a mother who are reduced to visitors at their own home after the father dies, which allows the son to inherit the estate. After that, Austen pulls in this idea about Sense and Sensibility.
Let's put it this way: NOTHING HAPPENS! Elinor and Marianne fall in love with two men, who end up breaking up with then off and on throughout the book until the end when one of them actually marries one of the men. And it is the most boring piece of garbage ever to be written. I'm going to burn my copy after I'm done with it, which should be soon. This book is for women. Not for a man such as myself ...
That's telling 'em, He-man!
Meanwhile, Lotte (in Baltimore) wants us to know:
The book was very boring, with long unending sentences and characters that made no sense. Yet, I kept reading and reading until I was done. I think I was determined to make some sense out of it. After words and words of whatever, the ending came to a short, brief end.
Well yes, that's what normally happens in a novel. What were you expecting, an index?
Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth:
A customer says:
I cant believe I payed for this book! I am not a prude, but I sure could not find any reason for the raunchy sexual writing in this book. I can write a book this good. Would not recommened this book to anyone.
That's "paid", dear. And "recommend".
A customer (the other one) adds:
It was very tiring for me to read a book thats written enntirely in this style.the impression you get is that this guy is hitting his head with a hammer to get ideas to fill the pages of this book instead of visiting a psychiatric and talk about his childhood.
Doc Stross says, "take two aspirin."
Moby Dick by Herman Melville:
ironman96 demonstrates his stamina thuswise:
As much as I hate to criticize a classic, this book was extremely difficult to get through. I read because I enjoy it but sadly this book was a chore. The story starts out with an intriguing plot, then it goes awry when the author inexplicably inserts chapter upon chapter discussing whale anatomy, whale history, whale legend, a dissertation on the whaling industry and more. Then the story starts up again only to be interrupted by more chapters on the science of whales. By that time, I had lost all interest in the story. After reading another reviewer, I skipped to the last 3 chapters which completed the story. This book obviously presents a very interesting story--it just does so in such a strange way that I can't believe this book became as popular as it did. If there is an abridged version of this book that eliminates the whale facts, I'd recommend it over the full version.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:
A customer (another one?) says:
This was the dullest book I have ever read in my entire existence. The theme behind this book is excellent, but the writing is quite dry and wordy. Who ever named this so-called Story a Classic is not someone I would like to meet. Only the theme kept this book from being a ONE.
And if that doesn't convince you, over to Skippy McGee (who comes up with these screen names? Oh, I know: the same people who come up with these reviews):
I was forced into reading this for my senior AP humanities class over the summer. I began about three weeks before school started, and it took me a week to get though, despite being a relatively short book. I literally almost fell asleep every ten pages. Mary Shelley almost as much in need of a good editor as friggin' Frank Norris with his stupid novel McTeague. She spend eons talking about how lovely the mountains are, then spends around five seconds explaining the birth of The Monster. This tendancy to skip over the exciting parts as though they were unimportant may have been intentional (that's what my humanites teacher tells me) but it still bored me. Also, I don't really care what the mountains looked like. Victor Frankenstein whines his way through the entire novel, which is really irritating because everything that happens to him is his own fault.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller:
I forced myself to finish this book because it was heralded as "one of the greatest novels of the century." I found it an amazing chore to trudge through page after page of absurd, repetitive babble, replete with needless descriptions of depraved immorality.
Jackson, tunnelling in from the other trouser-leg of time, heils:
A traditional "liberal" deconstruction where little is recognized as good with the exception of its own juvenile narcissism and egoism. I would not describe this work as even a novel and it has little to recommend. Given that this is a critique of WWII, the novel puts in place the antecedents to today's antisemitism within the left's worldview.
I'll give the final say to Scott (surname redacted to spare his parents the embarrassment):
I personally don't read that many books, but this is one of the worst books I ever read. First, they're are too many characters. This book has too many characters that I can't remember even one of them in my head. They include many minor characters that nobody cares so you get confused about it. Second, it has too many mini-stories. It has lots of short stories that doesn't relate to any of the other stories and they are usually pretty boring. Third this is none sense. It doesn't have a major theme or anything and it's just talking about air force men being board of the war and just being crazy.
Moving swiftly onwards ...
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad:
Or friend A customer writes:
Not so hot; phony intellectuals are told this is a great work so they make up all sorts of lies about layering and craftsmanship, when it's really just a so-so story and the ending with the guy Marlon Brandon played in the movie (Apocalypse Now) going crazy and Conrad never explaining why there should be such a fascination with him. It might be a nice book if there was a story here. But these modern phonies do not understand that writing is supposed to be enjoyable.
A very well written novel? Well, Conrad surely knows how to make a student's learning experience miserable. Five stars for boredom.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein:
Foe Sterling writes:
I was given this book by a friend to read, and received nothing of what I expected. No doubt that Tolkiens stories have reached world popularity; however I found it to be tediously dull, and alarmingly unmoving. Tolkien was indeed one of the countries finest authors, but to say that he is the best is taking it out of context. Simpley because Tolkien was the first successful fantasy novelist, does not mean he was the best. I can understand why people would take his books as almost a religion, but I could barely trudge through the first 100 pages. I account this to my own preferences. I value character development very highly, and of which there seemed scarce to none in Lord of the Rings. Tolkien I feel focused more on places; the then and where. Understand, that I desprately wished to enjoy this book, as I hoped to learn from the master, since I hope to someday strick my own mark in fantasy writing.
Our old and tiresome friend A Customer adds:
It may be my age but I unfortunatly found this to be one of the most boring books I have ever laid my eyes on. I have read many other great fantasy authors i.e. Feist, Jordan and McCaffrey but I read this book and thought I was going to be absolutly amazed at how good it was supposedly according to almost all of the people who reviewed it. I dragged myself through two of the books in this trilogy and I will never again pick up another Tolkien book.
Another dissatisfied A Customer boggles:
I can't stand this book! These fantasy things are really getting to me! I don't see how someone could read such un-true and so unbelievebly weird stuff! Sorry if I offended you. And don't say these are the greatest books. Try reading something more true like Gone With the Wind or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Shantonu feels the need to denounce:
... this book fails because of its incessant praise of war. The Nazis were evil because of the Holocaust. What did the Allies do to stop that? Not much (didn't even bomb the tracks leading to the death camps). War is simply evil; the sad lesson of the 20th Century is that warriors only contribute to the problem (Hiroshima) and only peacemakers fight evil effectively. (MLK, Ghandi, Einstein)
Tolkein should be criticised for glorifing war because he: (1) wrote for children, is very popular, and (3)is credited with greatness. But Tolkein set up a world where war is becomes the essentially bloodless killing of evil subhumans or spirits. As in Beowulf, there's no horror, just glory. The enemies, who live in a "black and evil land" can't be reasoned with, only killed.
I'll give the final word to Dr Seamus Jones, PhD:
Tolkien had WAY too much time on his hands. Just think about it - spending all that time creating imaginary worlds, peoples, languages and events? With a huge appendix explaining it all? It's insane! Talk about wasting his time! Tolkien would have used his time much better if he had used it to cut the grass for an elderly lady, work as a volunteer in a soup kitchen, or collect money for the blind. Anyone who has the time to make so much time in his imaginary world, let alone write a stack of books about it clearly has WAY too much time on his hands.
That's enough for now. What are your favourite one-star reviews?