As soon as you’ve published your first book, you begin the breathless wait for your first review.

With Amazon’s algorithm – and even that crucial spark that causes word-of-mouth – relying on them, reviews will always have a place of importance.

The trouble for most authors is separating out the genuine criticism from the nasty, backbiting of other embittered writers!

For instance, if you got a one-star review like this:
“more baffling than thd film.a nothing of read.if i hadnt seen the film i wouldnt have had a clue. avoid as it is a classic, classic nonsense” it might be hard to discern if you should pay attention to a reviewer who makes multiple typos in 29 words…

Of course, in this case you shouldn’t. Quite aside from the fact that it reads like it was written by an epileptic monkey, this one-star review was for Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

So here are some more one-star reviews for classics. Enjoy – and let it help the next time your novel is on the receiving end of something similar!*

Treasure Island


– “Bad book
Do not read
Do not make a second one
But good luck next time
I will not read again”

Robinson Crusoe

– “Not my favourite book. Even in a world of two people Robby finds a way of enslaving the primitive one and teaching him about Christ. Zzzz”

– “What is that even about and why do they talk so weird????????? I think that this book should have more information about this guy!!!!!!!!!I mean is he a famous person or something?????????”

39 Steps

– “An utterly boring and unbelievable story which I read to the end hoping for something better to turn up. It didn’t”

– “very slow ..was like pulling teeth not very action pact ,have seen several films and thought bet this is good .. its not even for free i want my money back ..”

– “Seen all the film’s but never read the book till now. Great read thoroughly enjoyed it. History and adventure together.”
[Yet still rated it one star]

Wizard of Oz

– “Well I like.this book because it has good word’s and it is just fascinating to read I liked the part were Dorothy defeats then”

– “This book is good but it`s not the same as the movie so i did`nt like it so much as the movie.”

– “Teeth bbc fhbg the snowman and I’m homeless people who are not good at screens and I’m not sure if I can see the world and I’m not good at it was a busy week in could have been in could have to be in Brighton next week in the Victorian and I’m not sure if this rate of you have to the Victorian and I still”

Tale of Two Cities

– “a very disappointing book – only the opening and closing quotations of note. Heavy handed prose, characters have no depth and the central theme of Carton’s love just doesn’t work and fails to convince regarding his ultimate sacrifice”

– “I often try to read The Classics to improve my mind but always find them so boring, give me a modern author any day though I found the original Dracula to be good, mind you it was Bram Stoker’s one and only.”

– “Look, these novels are first class but this transcript is so full of errors. Miss Havisham is refered to as Miss Hawisham in G.E! Very poor indeed. I got a refund.”
[The book is free]

Les Miserables:

– “I am afraid this is the only book that i have ever given up on in at least 20 years. Too slow, didn’t make it past 5% despite my best efforts. I have deleted this book com my e-library so its icon doesn’t continue to mock me.”

– “I couldn’t even finish this book because it was so boring & it seemed to go on & on without anything particularly interesting happening.”

– “I’m sorry, I can’t get into this book at all. I’ve bought the dvd and I watched it but absolutely hated it.”

– “Sorry, I gave up after a few pages.Akin to watching paint dry, I couldn’t manage any more. It wasn’t like that in the West End.”

Moby Dick

– “Be sure to avoid the audio version read by Burt Reynolds. His pseudo dialect is almost beleivable, however he is way over the top emoting and blustering through the dialogue. Then he continues on in the same monotonous bombast to read the prose sections as if they were also dialogue. The problem with this is an extremely irritating sing-song pattern, combined with his squeeking, yelling, and mumbling. It lacks all respect for the dignity of Melville’s prose. Buy the unabridged version read by Bill Bailey. It is not exciting, but it is not irritating and does not get in the way of Melville’s prose.”

– “Have heard for years that MOBY DICK is a great American Classic. Decided to try to read it. Very disappointed. If you want to read lots of meaningless whale trivia read the book. “

– “Moby Ick’s more like it. A PIECE-O-TRASH! SENSELESS!”
[Short and pithy…]

[…versus one that complains about the book being over written and is… ironically rather long]
– “Anything that is white, that the author doesn’t ‘like’ are disgusting too. (This is along the lines that the author gives that ‘white’ is pure’ and anything that is ‘white’ that (he himself) deems impure is disgusting, because white should always be ‘good’ as such, Moby Dick terrified the author because he was ‘white’ and yet was not ‘pure’. This is the whole silly argument of the book, and it is laughable. Don’t believe me? read it for yourself, the author genuinely thinks the colour white is reserved in whole for something holy, and that if a whale happens to be white (and happens to defend itself from whale hunters, it is disgusting, and deserves to be killed.)

I forced myself to read every single page of this ‘classic’ and came to the conclusion that is its completely overrated tripe. Along with listing every single minute detail of what goes on in whaling ship, the author thinks that we we all be interested to know what he thinks about the mind of the ‘malicious’ white whale (Moby Dick) as if we are going to sympathize with him for hunting a creature that is doing nothing but defending itself.

Why on Earth this is seen as a ‘classic’ is beyond me, try and get it published today and it would be called the idiotic ramblings of a madman or a schoolboy who didn’t know how to write, just because its old doesn’t mean its good.

Not only can the author not string a sentence together, he often goes of on a tangent totally unrelated to what is being discussed and expects the reader to tag along, this might be OK if the book was documentary or almanac or a book about the behavior of whales and the hunting of them, but it is not, it is meant to be a novel and as such it is the job of the author to keep the narrative flowing, the is no flow in this book, it stops and starts jarringly and is in sore need of much editing (HUNDREDS of pages could have been removed with absolutely no effect on the story)

In places it is good (VERY GOOD) but this is overwhelmed by the ridiculous need for the author to describe things that we simple do not need to know, research is very important when writing a book, (see ‘Unbroken, or ‘Sea Biscuit’, the amount of research in these books are phenomenal)but the author needs to draw the line of where to put things in appendices (Tolkien was very good at this) so not to draw the reader out of the story. The author feels the needs to reveal ALL his research without editing, and as such the book reads as something of a rambling notebook of opinions without a basis of fact.

Sadly I cannot say this book is worth recommending. It certainly is not a classic and it is not a joy to read. I say this without bias and I will no doubt be blasted for such opinions, but I can only be honest. I have read many ‘difficult’ books but none that has bored me as much as Moby Dick, heavily eddied, it could probably pass as something in readers digest (of old) but (for me) it will never be anything more than a pile of self indulgent tripe.”

*Reviews taken from & All were one-star (even the seemingly positive ones) and generally for the most popular version of the book in the charts (generally the free one). They’re also “cut and pastes” – all typos and CAPS use is how they were written.

posted by Jack Hayes
on May, 27