Here’s the deal. I like writing book reviews on Goodreads every time that I finish reading a book. It’s mostly for myself, because I like writing things down, because that’s what I do for fun. I recently finished reading two books that I did not particularly like (one I absolutely hated, the other had some pluses and minuses but ultimately just wasn’t for me). I would usually at this point write a couple thoughtful Goodreads reviews about them. But I don’t feel comfortable doing so, because in both cases I am tangentially related to the authors, and in both cases I would be the only review of these books, and so if they saw the reviews, they would see my name on them, and then I would feel like a dick for single-handedly dropping their entire rating. In neither case does the author actually know me personally- they were books mentioned to me by friends who said “This person I know wrote a book,” and I thought “I would be interested to see what this person has to say.” So in order to avoid awkwardness on Goodreads, I am going to abstain from writing my usual review.
Instead, here’s two anonymous reviews, for books that I shall not identify, rendering the reviews useless to anyone except for myself and my compulsions:
Book One is an alternate history. Something in American history went a different way than what happened in real history, and as a result, today’s America in the book is very similar to real-life present-day American, with one very notable difference. The notable difference is, in my opinion, a very interesting and unique concept, and I wish that the author had spent more time actually centering the book on this specific concept. Instead, the book pivots entirely on the existence of a character. This character’s existence could be scandalous if it ever hit the newspapers, and so a handful of other characters go in search of this one character. I have two major problems with this premise. Problem one is that this story could just as well have happened in real-life modern-day America, meaning the creative and unique alternate-history setting was pretty much wasted. Problem two is that this character’s existence just didn’t seem like a big deal to me, and so I did not care about anyone else’s motivations. I was waiting for an explanation of why we should care, but it never really came. These aforementioned issues I think should be problematic for most readers, whereas the rest of my criticisms are more an issue of personal preference. At some point towards the middle of the book the story that seems to be getting set up suddenly stops, and instead we are treated to pages and pages and pages of endless boring dialogue. Everyone talks the same. It takes the reader nowhere. This may have been an attempt at character development, except it continues almost right up to the end of the book, making me wonder what we are developing these characters for. Then suddenly we have plot for about one chapter, but it comes completely out of nowhere and doesn’t seem to connect to anything else in the book. But I have been told that this book is very similar to the works of some popular author who I have never read, so while this particular book did not appeal to me personally, I could see it appealing to other people who prefer different genres and styles from me. THREE STARS for having interesting enough ideas, but not developing them in a way that I personally found compelling.
Book Two is an ill-fated romance. He is a brilliant artist who is perfect in every possible way, especially in his superior knowledge of rock music. She is a super sexy petite scientist with a cute accent who really enjoys giving him blowjobs. They have a boring routine of sending text messages (80% of the book is in text message or email form) about what they will do that weekend, then meeting on the weekend to go to [insert name-drop of whatever bar or restaurant the author likes], then go to his or her house where he cooks [insert description of the amazing Michelin-star-worthy gourmet meal that he prepares for her], then they have AMAZING SEX because he is amazing at sex and she loves receiving amazing sex from this perfect sex man, then she displays an emotion of some sort and then he says “What the fuck?” (pretty much his only spoken lines in the entire book except for when he brilliantly talks about music so brilliantly that other real-music lovers at bars turn to him to tell him how good he is at talking about music). This happens every week for a few months. And then (spoiler alert!) he cannot handle her volatility anymore, despite his immense perfection, and he leaves her. At the end the book suddenly switches from text messages to a scientific explanation of borderline personality disorders, which apparantly is what is wrong with her. He himself is drunk and/or stoned for the entirety of the book, which we know because on every page he lists out which sustance he is abusing at any given moment. She has a therapist which is a big red flag that she must have something seriously wrong with her. He is clearly self-medicating with booze and weed but that’s not a problem, that’s just being a cool perfect guy. I am trying to think of a single positive thing to say about this book but am drawing a blank…. Oh, it was short, so, uh, at least it didn’t eat up too much of my time. ONE STAR for aggravating the shit out of me on every single page.