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Can You Guess the Sci-Fi Book Based On Its 1-Star Reviews?

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K.W. Colyard

Contributor

Kristian Wilson Colyard grew up weird in a one-caution-light town in the Appalachian foothills. She now lives in an old textile city with her husband and their clowder of cats. She’s on Twitter @kristianwriting, and you can find more of her work online at kristianwriting.com.

You might be a sci-fi connoisseur, but can you identify science fiction books from the descriptions of people who truly hated them? See if you can guess the sci-fi book based on its 1-star reviews below!

Bad reviews can be a bit of a sticking point for authors, and understandably so. No one likes to hear unmitigated criticism, no matter how thick-skinned they may be. Besides, reviews are not for authors. Reviews are for readers, librarians, teachers, and booksellers; they are not — and should not be — direct lines of feedback from the reviewer to the author.

That hasn’t stopped some authors from leaning into their bad reviews, however. Gabino Iglesias frequently plugs his 2022 novel, The Devil Takes You Home, based on its 1-star reviews. He also tweets out 1-star reviews of his favorite books, like this one for Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, which reads: “I didn’t particularly enjoy the book. I found it unnecessarily traumatizing.” Other authors who have leaned into their 1-star reviews include McKenzie Austin (Followed by Fire) and Morgan Daimler (Fairycraft).

So what do you think? Can you guess the sci-fi book based on its 1-star reviews? It’s time to put your book-identifying skills to the test. I’ve picked out the best, most vitriolic, and most laughable bad reviews of 12 titles — including my personal favorite, “[D]ull soup.” — waiting for you below.

A quick warning: be prepared to read a lot about the horrors of “wokeism”.

5 stars against and pink and blue background

Can You Guess The Sci-Fi Book Based On Its 1-Star Reviews?

1. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“I’m probably a lot older than most who read this for the first time which may explain my complete loss at how this could be so well reviewed. The characters are cardboard cutouts and never have any dimension. The main character is treated as a prophet-like, infallible figure from the onset. The writing is full of…narrations about what other characters are thinking as they are interacting with or observing him. All of which is aggrandizing and undeserved.”

“So I ordered the book, but after seeing the movie, I won’t be reading it. The movie was so goofy. Why were there sword fights? They travel all over the universe in spaceships, but apparently no one owns a gun.”

Worst ending of any book I’ve ever read.”

2. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Intriguing premise. Boring, wordy, and unbelievable dialogue and characters in execution. Very disappointed. Couldn’t make it through.”

“Really didn’t like any of the characters. Most of them self-centered id*ots, or violent sn@ts. Reminds me of vap*d, supposed ‘w@ke’ college students now days.”

Tropes galore. Not worth the trouble.”

3. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Abominable. No plot, amorphous and underdeveloped characters, skipping around in time. Impossible to follow.”

“The writing style is lazy and the story is told almost exclusively through pen pal notes?! The lack of framing reveals only the author’s non desire to give their characters a purpose to correspond in the first place.”

Poetic but what’s the point?

4. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Seems to be mostly about the horrors of the gig economy, but I couldn’t read much past one-third of the book.”

“Seems as though the mode by which an author ‘identifies’ is far more important than what he or she or they or te has to say. And as a result, they don’t say much.”

5. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“This book, unbelievably, won a Hugo Award. It is full of made up words and nonsensical phrases, all pushing the idea that there should be (or maybe isn’t) any such thing as gender. It is a terrible story, with a quasi-interesting main character that isn’t really sure what it is. Person or computer. Male or female. Alive or dead. Good or evil. THOSE are appropriate sci-fi themes. The fact is that the narrative is that there is only ‘she’ which appears to be nonsex. Everything else is irrelevant and subordinate to that narrative…If you want to read a woke narrative, this is your book.”

“The most confusing writing I’ve ever encountered.”

[D]ull soup.

6. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Made it through half a chapter and put the book down when it turned politically woke describing how the well off white scientists use the brown and black people for their agenda…Flipped to the author bio and yup the author is currently studying critical race theory according to her own tagline.”

“Didn’t realize this was a lesbian love book, not what I was looking for.”

“You’ll feel dirty and degraded after reading this thing.”

7. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Massive run-on sentences. Very slow moving. Illogical name process for individuals and empires. Lastly, constant use of extremely rare terms. (Hebephrenia, interregnum, pseudoiterative ) As an example instead of saying ‘unhabitable planet’ they would say ‘not capable of even supporting Deinococcus radiduorans.'”

“This book is a melodrama for gender-confused young women; it is not a Space Opera.”

[J]ust like North Korea!

8. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“I was looking for a fun multidimensional romp in an Ikea clone big box store. Instead I get a love-sick depressed worker who keeps using they and their as a singular pronoun – which kept me out of the story trying to figure out who she was referring too.”

“Please get a translator that KNOWS how to speak English.”

a photo of a calendar with the text "I hope you like calendars that you never understand."

9. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Firstly main character is a de facto slave to a sadistic psychopath but somehow they fall in love over the course of several days? Please that is pushing suspension of disbelief too much.”

[C]rude, confusing and gross.

“I disliked someone using God’s name in vain. It ruined a potentially good read for me. So, no thank you.”

10. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Bluntly described as crude, vulgar, and uncivilized.”

“The [Hugo] judges must be brain dead or, in the alternative, have an underlying agenda.”

“At least they aren’t trying to hide the fact that this is…straight CCP propaganda.”

11. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Could not follow this book at all. The characters have no personality and no redeeming qualities. There are weird made up words for the techie stuff, which is introduced ex nihilo to solve problems, and reader cannot tell what the stuff is supposed to be or what it does.”

“I hope you like calendars that you never understand.”

“Reads like a cross between a shoot-em-up video game and a math problem.”

12. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“I went into it wanting to like it, with an open mind in spite of the back cover sounding like a poorly thought out fanfiction mishmash of a bunch of classic anime. Unfortunately, that’s all it is, with some bad descriptions and historical mythology thrown into the mix.”

[O]verly violent even for this kind of fiction.”

“Maybe writing with both hands on the keyboard will yield a better novel.”


Want to read more bad reviews of good books? Check out these 1-star reviews of classic novels. And if you don’t like star-based ratings, be sure to read Aisling Twomey’s guide to the CAWPILE review system.