There is a certain amount of fun in mocking bad books and even a good book’s bad moments. In fact, there are whole websites devoted to it (e.g. Reasoning with Vampires). However, it can feel cruel as well, somebody might have poured their blood and soul into the words on their pages. Of course, somebody might have only been out to make a buck and not like the book his or her self.
Sometimes I struggle with this. I’ve done the occasional book review on this website, and even if I didn’t like the book all that much, I’ll make sure to say something good about it. If I can’t find anything good to say, I won’t do the review at all. Maybe that makes me a wuss, but I hate to just slam something even though the author is unlikely to ever see it.
Then there is the question of how popular a book is. Somehow I find saying negative things easier about a popular book that’s selling like crazy instead of someone’s self-published attempt. Maybe it’s because the popular author is already getting tons of validation, and my criticisms will never reach his or her ears. Whereas a struggling author might be Googling for any reviews he or she can find.
I did a listen to Twilight a few years ago and, not surprisingly, I found it wasn’t for me. It’s an easy book to slam, but at the same time it does really connect well with a lot of people. This leads to the second problem with slamming a book, and that’s how it makes the fans feel. If I say that Twilight is poorly written, IMO, then that might make a fan of the book think I’m slamming them indirectly. That’s one of the things I dislike about The Oatmeal’s infamous “How Twilight Works” comic (though I generally like the comics). Look, we all have guilty pleasures, and I think it’s important to respect the people who like something. I’m sure there are plenty of Twilight fans who are fully aware that it isn’t the best written book, but still enjoy it. And Twilight does have a way of connecting with some people, and that’s important for any book, so it has at least one quite good quality.
Well, that’s a bunch of thoughts, but how do they come together? I guess for me it comes down to respect. Critique without making it personal, “The metaphors in this book just don’t work”, instead of, “The author is an idiot.” Also, don’t slam the readers who do like it, remember it might just be a guilty pleasure or they make a connection you can’t see.
How do you feel about mocking books?