Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goodreads Controversy Jan 2012: Two Sides

I'm not an aged, wizened reviewer on Goodreads yet. I joined last year around May (I know this because of my Goodreads profile and because I nearly failed my finals; the site had me compulsively digging around my bookshelves for new books to add rather than attending to my studying).

Goodreads caught my attention not because it allowed you to brazenly boast about your book collection (I do love to boast.) but because it gathered bookworms and bibliophiles alike into a single community to share thoughts and opinions freely about the latest novel. I must emphasize one word in that last sentence: freely. Goodreads is one of the most uncensored review sites I've been on. We are allowed to cuss. We are allowed to spoil every plot twist we want, with the optional use of spoiler tags (of course). We are allowed to friend our favorite authors and have a real rapport with our literary icons without actually having to drag our butts over to the once-in-a-million author signing at the local bookstore. Goodreads, I love you dearly. I'm proud to be a Goodreader.

Apparently, one of the more followed reviewers on the site wrote an impassioned, negative review about one book. I won't name the reviewer, author, or participants (as I don't think this was an isolated incident either), but the review became a subject of harsh criticism from not the actual book's author but a third party writer and his/her friends from Twitter.

From reading all the sides of the controversy, I tried to understand where each party is coming from. Let's call the person who wrote the original review "X," the reviewed book's author "Y," nd the third party author "Z."

X's review was very vocal, and I can totally relate with his/her opinions. Often times, I rant vehemently on books that just push my buttons too much (Wither by Lauren DeStefano...). And as I've said before, Goodreads is the one site that allows me to express what I'm really feeling rather than blunting it with a teaspoon of sugar for the sake of an author's self-esteem. Sites that make you add nice things to your review, even if you have none, are inane wastes of my time. An author shouldn't need to have his/her ego stroked at the cost of honesty.

To be fair, I think Z's original comment on X's review was rather civilized. The comment politely pointed out some things Z found to be unfair (since I think X hadn't finished the book yet). It was X's followers who took Z's comment out of context and provoked Z's subsequent Twitter action. I was shocked because from what I could see from external sources on Goodreads, most Goodreaders painted Z in this awful light. Honestly, I couldn't see why Z was initially lambasted for his comment on X's review. As an aspiring author myself, I could understand why Z had some concerns about X's review. X was under no obligation to soften his/her voice, but Z was totally free to call X out for some of the points he/she made about the book.

However, Z then went to Twitter (a dick move, man...), and everything went spiraling into Hell. Y, the original book's author, stepped in gracefully to assuage the parties involved, but the momentum did not stop! In my opinion, Z was free to post his frustration on Twitter -- it's a free country -- but Z should not have added links back to the original review so that all Z's author friends could join in on the party. It was, as I said before, a dick move that really showed how juvenile Z could be. I wished Z could have stuck to the high road...which I know he/she was trying to do originally, but really I think this is a case of impassioned Goodreaders inciting an argument when there hadn't been one.

Short summary? Things got hectic because X didn't like a book, Z added opinions about the review, X's followers got a little pissy, Z got a little pissy, Twitter was involved, and now there is chaos.

I won't stop using Goodreads because of this nor will I go around axing off books from my possible to-read shelf. This action itself is immature. Everyone has bad days and everyone has actions they regret and wish to take back; does that mean I should forgo a possibly amazing book just because one author has an opinion that differs from the rest of us?

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