Book Reviews When What You Get Isn’t What You Expected

I’ve been wrestling with a book rating this morning.  I finished one of the books I was reading last night and was hideously disappointed.  It wasn’t a bad book.  Quite the contrary.  But I read through the whole thing expecting one thing and got something else entirely.

It wasn’t what I wanted.

There were half a dozen points in the narrative where the author could’ve easily taken it in the direction I wanted.  But she did something else.  And I’ve been trying really hard to go back through the book in my mind to evaluate it for what it was, not what I expected it to be.  Because as an author, I know perfectly well that I have a certain vision of what a book will be and if a reader expects something else, I get really…upset when people judge it based on what THEY thought it should be.

I lay the blame of my expectations at the feet of whoever wrote the book blurb.  Because everything about it implied that I was about to get the kind of YA where paranormal/fantasy collides with the real world.  And what I got was a contemporary YA that happened to be set in a locale with some fantastic local history that essentially challenged the scientifically minded heroine to believe in romance.  Which is all well and good, but I was totally expecting both she and the hero to be…not human and to have some kind of Romeo and Juliet vibe and have to do something about a feud and…

Yeah okay, I’ll just write that one myself.

How do you deal with rating a book when what you get is not what you expected?  Do you just go with your gut reaction and dock it, or do you try to go back and re-evaluate?

8 thoughts on “Book Reviews When What You Get Isn’t What You Expected

  1. I try to never rate a book based on my feelings. If it’s well-written and entertaining, I’m going to give it what I think it deserves, not how it made me feel. I think there would be more reviews with higher stars if people did this. There have been times I wanted to throw a book against the wall (not literally, since I don’t want to destroy my Kindle), but it was usually because I didn’t want a character to die or I wanted different people to get together. My opinion doesn’t make it a good or bad book. Of course, you know me, if I can’t rate a book fairly high, I won’t even review it. Yeah, I know, I’m not mean enough.

  2. I tend to read books with a double mind. One is the writer-me who sees other ways to do things…you know, what I would’ve done. The second is as someone looking for a good read…still has to be logical/good story and characters and plot/stay-true-to-blurb, etc.. It doesn’t phase the writer-me if I have problems with the book, it’s all lessons with a few “WTH was this author thinking!” thrown in.

    Displease the reader-me and that will have to do with the story sucking frog toes for whatever reason, including misleading me by blurbage. I rate books as reader-me – who is much easier to get along with than writer-me. But that means I’ll rip a book to shreds for misleading me into thinking it’s one kind of story and having it turn out to be something else. If I read a book like what you’ve described, I’d make sure to mention being mis-blurbed so others know and don’t waste their money or time.

  3. One way I deal with it is that I gave up rating books, and mostly gave up reviewing them. If I’m really excited and want everyone to know, I’ll leave it 5 stars and a review about why you should go buy it now. Less than 5 stars, I probably won’t rate it at all. In a case like yours, I would probably write a review on Goodreads to say it was this and not that, because that’s useful information, but avoid giving it a star rating. I was just thinking about this subject this morning as I was reading reviews of an aspie book on which adults left low star ratings because they were looking for a book to help them understand the subject in general, while the book was geared toward helping kids cope with one aspect in particular.

  4. I try to review books for what they are, but if I was expecting something else, I’ll address that (and why) in my review. For example, you said the blurb made you expect something else; I’d then critique the blurb in my review.

  5. This happened not so long ago to me, too. (Wait… is the start of our last winter, not that long ago? Might be long ago to some…) Anyways, when I went to rate the book, I rated it based on how well it was written and despite it not turning out how I expected if I nonetheless had fun reading it.

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