We’ve all been there: You go to leave a review of an amazing book, only to see that someone has left it a dreaded 1-star review. And when you read it? Oof. Did the two of you even read the same book? Well, let’s put it to the test. Can you guess these fantasy books based only on their 1-star reviews?
As a writer, I love a good bad review. Reading bad reviews of books you love can show you just how ridiculous some readers can be. You need a thick skin to make it through the rounds — and rounds and rounds — of rejections that come with the writing life. Reading people’s pettiest complaints about fantastic books won’t take the sting out of rejection, but it will give you an easy excuse to disregard the nasty things people might say about your work down the line.
Seriously, people will complain about anything. I’ve read angry reviews about the number of non-English words in a book set in a non-English-speaking country. And about made-up words in a speculative fiction title. And about sex and profanity in a book for adults.
And look, there’s no accounting for taste. If you didn’t like a popular or award-winning title, that’s 100% OK! Just don’t be an ass about it like so many of these reviewers.
Can You Guess the Fantasy Book Based on Its 1-Star Reviews?
“I feel bad writing this review of a book but the story is just terrible. It just starts with little background and little explanation and then the main character can just do all of these great things like defeat dragons. You never like the main character or can relate to them because there is little explanation and little dialogue.”
“It became extremely boring as [REDACTED] just rowed about at sea the whole book.”
“[T]he third point of view is written in the second person (i.e. the author is so egotistical she has to tell us who we are, how we feel about the events of the novel, what we notice and, most crucially, what we do not, no matter how stupid that makes us.)”
“I got about 20% of the way through the book thinking ‘how could this have won a Hugo?‘”
“When too much time is spent on identity of the characters instead of telling the story and when the entire plot is permeated with ideas and an outlook that I can’t appreciate…. A smart author considers their audience a little better if they want a wide section of the reader base to be interested.”
“I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like this one. I don’t like gangster stories, I don’t like Asian based fantasy world building, I don’t like character driven books. There are exceptions to that but this wasn’t it.”
“[T]he story of their chief deity’s descent to the human world reads like really bad fan-fic of Jesus of Nazareth.”
“The main character is the Mary Sue-est character to ever Mary Sue… (see: naming his horse the perfect name by pure accident because he’s just that good).”
“His density and lack of reaction made me wonder if he was homosexual.”
“There are few parallels to Real History in this book as the author elected to write a story without doing much research. In addition, this book is really not good literature either and will not with stand [sic] the test of time. Not sure why it was even considered for a Pulitzer Prize. The selection committee must not have read the book and/or decided to award it a prize because of its subject matter. Very disappointing.”
“I love a good historical fiction novel. I love a good historical fantasy / dystopian novel. This was neither.”
“I was disappointed that there was no mention at all of the song ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd.’“
“This book is like someone took ‘Harry Potter,’ removed the fun, magic, and adventure only to replace it with bigotry, homoerotic undertones, banal etymologies, and anti-colonialist preaching.”
“A blatant call for drowning civilization and its accomplishments in blood of its citizens. Outrageous. Dangerous. Disgusting.”
“Fortunately, there is a much better real-life example to turn to: Gandhi.”
“If I’d known ahead of time that this was military fantasy I probably wouldn’t have requested it.”
“Difficult to read with the full stop periods and sometimes lack of commas.”
“I would guess the praise for the book comes from its LBGTQ sex scenes and it’s [sic] thinly disguised portrayal of France’s colonial oppression of Algeria, so it’s about as woke as can woke can be.”
“Did not mean to buy an abridged copy, but I figure I would soldier on through anyway and see how it went. Hated every second of it. It seems like every time I get into the story we need to have an interruption to tell some inane story about the abridger, who honestly seemed to hate the original story for how much he cut out.”
“I was BORED within a few pages with the made-up introduction and completely untrue masquerade that this book was written by a guy from… a completely fictional place.”
“This is a different author trying to write the story… as how he thinks [REDACTED] should have written it. This is a waste of money. Keep searching, the real one has to be out there somewhere.”
“It’s not a cute [REDACTED] book, it’s depressing and scary. Adults can stand it, but not kids who love animals.”
“Guess I was expecting something easy to follow and light-hearted.”
“I only gave it one star because you have to give a star rating This book is long and boring it has words you don’t understand it trails on and it is written horribly honestly I think the guy who did this is good at what he does but I don’t like this book keep up the good work but next time dont make it suck [sic]”