As anyone who reads my blog is aware I review Indie authors books on a semi-regular basis.
Partly I do reviews because I am an indie writer myself. Thus I know how hard it is to get people to do reviews. In particularly honest well thought out and considered reviews. There are options out there where you can pay for reviews, and as the option is out there I am sure some people do.
Partly I do review because it means I get to read a lot of interesting writers work and it encourages me to read a broad span of different genres and styles, something which is important to me in my own development as a writer. There is nothing that expands your own scope like reading something different.
And finally partly I do reviews just because I enjoy a good read. Which is occasionally where the problem with reviews lays, because I offer to do reviews to a couple of groups on +Goodreads, and never quite know what I am going to be reading when I agree to do them.
Don’t get me wrong here, the majority of Indie books I read are genuinely great read. There is a rich vibrant community of indie authors out there. Often they are also the most thought provoking, interesting and different novels you can find. As opposed to main stream novels because main stream publishers publish books with an aim in mind, that been profit. Many of the indie novels I read might not even get read by a publisher. Let alone find one willing to publish something that’s more than a little out of the ordinary. Indeed the indie book is generally written by authors not thinking in commercial terms. Instead they are writing what they want to write and how they wish to write it.
You may hate the book, you may love it, but either way the indie author is telling their story how they wish to tell it. Immortown which I reviewed a couple of months ago for example is a really interesting read, that written in a fascinating way. The strength of the book lays in how it is written. The strange perspective the author uses added to the power and charm of the book. It tells a good story but not in any way that I would have written it. It’s one I recommend to anyone all the same. In part simply because it is so different.
The down side is I have been asked to review a couple of books which I really have struggled with. Having committed to review them I feel obliged to read them, equally I feel obliged to give an honest review. The trouble is my honest review would be that I did not enjoy them, or that I found the writing problematic, difficult to follow, or worse perhaps just actively hated them. I don’t often hate a book but it does happen.
One of these was a sfi book written with entirely non-human characters. In itself this isn’t an issue, a character doesn’t have to be human for me to feel empathy towards it. However in this case I did not feel anything for the characters. The writing got me lost constantly and the concepts it tried to introduce just felt flat and unreadable. It could have been better, it certainly had interesting ideas but it read like a first draft and a first draft that was written without much of a plan. What interest I found in the ideas was swamped by a lack of cohesion and most of the time I had no idea what was going on. Which was almost a shame as some of the ideas were interesting. It really seemed to be an early draft however.
Another was a YA novel which had a reasonable premise. The writing was better and it started well. The problems I had with it were more to do with the setting than anything else because when I agreed to read it I was told it was based in part around Norse mythology. The problem is I know a little about Norse mythology and what the novel was actually based on was the +Marvel Entertainment version of it built around there character Thor. Which has as much in common with real Norse mythology as a Mel Gibson historical epic. Frankly I am not a Marvel fan as such so in fairness this was really not written for me. At the same time however it was only loosely based on Marvels universe. Again I had trouble with the characters, the main character written in the first person I had an overwhelming desire to slap every five minutes, while the sorties into third person for off centre action were worse somehow. Though as I say I don’t think this was written for me and plenty of people might enjoy the style and the writing. Certainly it was better than the sfi book I mentioned earlier.
Every author has something to say, and every author should be allowed to say it. But having agreed to review someone’s work I wish I had a get out clause.
“Sorry I hated your book, but I don’t want to give you a bad review, so let’s just say it’s not for me.”