Perhaps you’d like to guess which novel this is? ‘Great premise, appallingly written. The plot is replete with unexplained co-incidences and impossibilities…. Tedious, lacking any credible plot-line, immature and over-written in the extreme.’ Mary Shelley, eat your (or some random corpse’s) heart out! Yes, this is an extract from a one-star review of Frankenstein.
'appallingly written...tedious'

I’ve blogged before about the brilliant and hilarious reviews people are leaving, such that creative Amazon reviews are becoming a genre of their own. Check out the Mr Men books, Bic’s pens ‘for her’banana slicers, etc for some all-star gems, if you've not already enjoyed them.
Now, to make us all feel better, let us enjoy the one-star review – in all its nasty glory – always more enjoyable when dumped on some other writer’s self-esteem. It was some enjoyable facebook posts by renowned actor, director and author Fidelis Morgan (check her website out here) which set me off finding these, so my thanks to her.

Here are some more. ‘I love the story of Oliver Twist and thought it great to download for free but it was written in Victorian english and was difficult to follow or enjoy.’ Why oh why did Dickens write in Victorian ‘english’, the fool? Think of the success he might have had! Doh!
Oops, Dickens messed up with this one!
This one is headed ‘I have given this book more stars than it deserves’, ie one. ‘I will not go into the storyline because I do not want to bore you. Basically these old fashioned girls that nobody cares about act stupidly about foppish gentlemen. All the characters are shallow, pathetic and materialist. This is an out of touch womans' book for the naive.’ Sense and Sensibility, just another mistake in Austen’s long flop of a career.
'shallow, pathetic and materialist' another flop for Jane A!
‘Disappointed with this. Very boring, nothing happens. Cannot understand why it is so popular.’ There are quite a few similar ones for Little Women. But Lord of the Flies fares no better: ‘without doubt, the most dull, sleep-inducing and boring novel I have ever read in my entire life.’

Here’s Wuthering Heights, through the jaundice-coloured but literate specs of one 'R Asplin': ‘Oh for heaven's sake Bronte, give over…. Jeez Louise, is there anything remotely likeable or identifiable in the gruelling, wind swept, dark brooding heavy-browed, heavy booted stomping, yelling, bickering, cursing, beatings and rain-lashed untimely sickly deaths of this 356 page "gothic" drear-fest…. Didn't care, wasn't remotely interested. Bugger off out of my window-oh-woah-woah Cathy, you're letting the draft in.’ I do kind of know what they mean… sorry Catherine Czerkawska!
Heathcliff is still sobbing about this one star review...
And for fairness, though I’m deeply grateful for the mostly good reviews my books have garnered on Amazon, here are a couple of stinkers. On Lydia Bennet’s Blog: ‘I did not like this book at all’, typical Brit understatement, while over the Pond, I got ‘Maybe I'm just too old to appreciate this, so I asked my friend's teen daughter to read a few chapters and tell me what she thought…”Dated and pretty lame", was her response. Yeah, that says it.’ Dated as in set in the Regency? Dated as in the modern slang had dated by several years after it was written? Still, Lydia Bennet would give just such a review to any book other than her own.
Dissed on both sides of the Atlantic! Result!
And this one, for my faithful first crime novel The Rotting Spot, which I felt was a rite of passage as it’s in the characteristic tone of the troll: ‘I can't believe this book has so many good reviews, the relationship between the two main characters is childish, and the stereotyping pathetic. Avoid unless you are desperate there are so many other books to read.’ Yay, the desperate demographic is mine, all mine!
Desperation fodder. Thank you, I'm here all week!

Oh well, at least I’m in good company. Do you have a fave one-star to share?

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Wendy H. Jones said…
I loved this. What a great way to start the day., with a good laugh. It is good to know you are in exalted company.
Thank-you for a Monday morning laugh! Lovely post! I know, I know, WH is all of those things, but I do love it so much. I've had some horrible one star reviews myself but always take comfort from those I've read on novels I've loved.
Chris Longmuir said…
I loved this post, made me laugh. It also set me on the hunt for my own 1-star reviews, and I could only find 3 of them. I'm either very lucky or the trolls haven't found me yet! But my favourite of the 3 x 1-star reviews was this one for Night Watcher "Great read was totally taken in by the story and was unable to stop reading, best book yet going to read all the others from the author Chris Longmuir". I wish all 1 star reviews were as nice, although I see I'll have to up my game to get 5-stars from this reviewer! And I'm not going to quote the other 2 x 1-star reviews but you're welcome to look them up.
JO said…
I had a review for my first ebook about Nepal suggesting I was a granny who spent a lot of time shopping. He/she had plainly not read the book as I didnt go shopping, and had been caught in a cyclone and been unreasonably close to a tiger!
Susan Price said…
Thanks Valerie - the 'reviews' for the ladylike bic pens were some of the funniest stuff I've read for a while. I'd love to know what, if anything, they make of them at Bic.

I don't think you need to worry about your one-stars - Amazon has given us real readers plenty of practice in weighing up reviews. And Lydia Bennett's slang was bound to date - over 40 years ago a publisher warned me to avoid slang because it dates so fast. But how else could Lydia speak at the moment when you wrote it?

Your ingenious de-construction of Austen, and your wit won't date. I love that book: it's as intelligent as it is funny.
Bill Kirton said…
Great piece Valerie. I'd never seen the bic reviews - brilliant. And what a great opportunity for me to herald the republication of my 2nd Jack Carston novel by offering up the only review it has on Amazon UK, by AnnieR:

If I could give this no stars, I would. Kirton breaks every basic rule of writing - he tells and he tells and he tells. I was so punch drunk by the poor writing, I lost track of whether or not the story was any good. By then I had lost the will to live. Sorry, Mr K.

And I couldn't take any comfort from the fact that the late Susanna Yager, in the Sunday Telegraph, found it 'thoughtful; and thought-provoking' and said it 'ought to bring Bill Kirton the attention he deserves'. because it didn't. So AnnieR was right.
Susan Price said…
No Bill, she'd wrong - I've read and enjoyed them.

I'm back here to make up for Valerie's one-stars by offering her these three potted reviews -
It happens on other sites too. Somewhere on TripAdvisor is a one star review of Ben Nevis complaining that it's 'very steep and too high.' He goes on to say that 'the climb basically went on for far too long and the last part was particularly steep and difficult'!
Mari Biella said…
This rings a bell, Valerie. When I got my first stinker of a review I consoled myself by looking at the bad reviews some of the classics got. One for Heart of Darkness stays with me - a reviewer compared it to drinking spoiled milk while listening to someone rake their nails down a blackboard. I'd actually be kind of chuffed if someone gave me a review like that! You can't please all of the people, as they say...
Lydia Bennet said…
Thank you all for all the kind comments, glad I made you laugh! And thanks for the other examples. I'm quite fond of the amazon book reviews like 'this arrived on time and seems to be what I ordered. I hope to read it some time'. Bill, that's a humdinger! Susan, thank you so much for your lovely words on my books and the link to your very generous review of my books on EE. Jo, what an ageist, sexist review, who cares if a grandmother wrote a book anyway! Nobody would take any notice of them I hope.
Anonymous said…
I like the review of 'The Complete Poems and Plays of William Shakespeare':- 'Unoriginal and stuffed full of cliches.'
Linda Gillard said…
One of mine is headed "FILTH". I think that might have boosted sales, but unfortunately readers will be disappointed if that's what they want to read. I'm anticipating the one-star review that will complain this book wasn't nearly as filthy as reviews suggested.
Lydia Bennet said…
Yes Shakespeare does have too many quotations in and he doesn't even acknowledge them ;) Linda, I'd probably use that as a cover quote for the next book!
Umberto Tosi said…
Ah, Valerie, thank you for brightening up my Monday. When will your "Game of Trolls" be made into a series? You give us all cover from them. I'll hunt down some further examples, and think of your post if and when I take a hit. Of course, great books have encountered nasty, vapid notices throughout literary history, Amazon just makes them more visible. The trouble is the troll entries stay on Amazon forever. One's only hope is that the informed notices push them downward into oblivion where they belong. Don't get me started on even more horrible trolls that inhabit YouTube, harassing legitimate views, particularly of classics. Trolls away!
glitter noir said…
Good fun, Valerie. The one-star I remember was from a reviewer who'd downloaded two of the Boss MacTavin mysteries--and read them both, it seemed, it a single day--commenting on the 'cheesy writing'...but offering, of course, no examples.

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