‘Eden, Dawn’ ~ Ouch! The Bad Reviews

Eden, Dawn and Bad ReviewsI’m blown-away happy with the reviews Eden, Dawn has received to date. Plunging into virgin territory for me, and needing to keep my exploits in fiction separate from my non-fiction work, I chose not to ask family and friends to review the book. Yes, I’ll admit it; unsure of the reception the book would get, I thought: if it bombs, no one needs to know. (Spineless, I know.)

At the time of writing this post, Eden, Dawn has twenty-four 4* & 5* ratings from twenty-seven reviewers on Amazon, eighteen 4* & 5* ratings from eighteen reviewers on Smashwords, and seventeen 4* & 5* ratings from nineteen reviewers on Goodreads. I couldn’t be happier. And I might let family and friends read it now. Maybe.

I haven’t made everyone happy; there are a few reviewers who didn’t like the book. Given that Eden, Dawn has enjoyed a sizable number of downloads to date, these ‘few’ no doubt represent a larger percentage of those disappointed with it. Below I list the bad reviews, but first let’s have a look at some constructive criticism added by reviewers who did enjoy the book.

Constructive Criticism of Eden, Dawn

“Take out the Notes”

After a very kind and generous review, one 5* reviewer made this suggestion: “Take out the Notes in the back of the book. They didn’t add anything, lacked context, and diminished the power of the epilogue.”

Since I had personally wrestled with whether I add them or leave them out of the book, I took this to heart. I flicked the suggestion out to others on my website, and was overwhelmed with readers who said they enjoyed them. So for now, they stay.

“A few grammar problems”

One 4* reviewer nailed my heart behind the book by saying, “Eden, Dawn did a spectacular job of creating a society in ruin. It felt like a cautionary tale, warning us against narcissism and arrogance. It focused on empathy and community as the key factors toward a better future, yet came nowhere near feeling sappy.” However, she also mentioned that there were “a few” grammatical problems in the book:

“The only thing that kept me from landing headfirst into the center of the story and refusing to leave was a few grammar problems. I know this sounds nitpicky, but it was incredibly jarring… largely because this eBook was so finely crafted. However, if my biggest complaint has to do with a few tiny errors in grammar – and I do mean few – I think it’s safe to say that Swift is an author worth reading.”

This is what irks me most. How after a gazillion re-reads, there are still mistakes in the book! I fall on the floor and grovel at your feet, dear reader. Please accept my apologies. (This reviewer hosts a book review site, and after contacting her for help, she graciously pointed out that I’d used ‘passed’ instead of ‘past’ on a few occasions. In the revision I plan for December, I’ll correct these errors.)

“Dialog is awfully clunky”

Another 4* reviewer expressed his or her enjoyment of the book under the heading, “Great story, definitely delivered” and compared it to Lord of the Flies. However, he or she wrote: “The only reason I’m not giving 5 stars is the writing. Most of it’s pretty good, but the dialog is awfully clunky, with an abundance of ‘ums’ and ‘erms’ and ellipses that get distracting. Other than that, it’s a very worthwhile read.”

I cringe, and fall on my own sword. Or pen. Or keyboard. (Yeah, sounded better in my head.) In trying to demonstrate my protagonist’s lack of confidence and uncertainty—you know, ‘show, not tell’—I may have over-cooked it. Another reason I’m planning a revision of the book in December.

Ouch! The Bad Reviews

What you’ve been waiting for, right? The unhappy customer spewing bile and venom.

On Amazon, one reviewer rated it 2*, and had this to say:

“This book is very well written but I can’t get past 10 percent of it because it’s too depressing, at least for my taste. Someone else might like it better.”

I suppose I’ll chalk this up as a back-handed compliment. The reviewer considered it “very well written,” and I can understand that the first ten percent was on the  “depressing” side of things. Painting the context blacker than black was my point. I just wish the reviewer had pressed on.

Two Amazon reviewers rated it 3*. One wrote:

“Nice read! Nice and refreshing read, quite gripping. I enjoyed the tension and the way the author draws you into the story, forcing you to read on… A sci-fi novel not unlike Planet of the Apes.”

This puzzles me. The reviewer seems to have enjoyed the book, but the 3* isn’t exactly a vote of confidence. I suppose, if you’ve just read a classic and scored it 4*, you cannot give an Indie author the same, can you?

The other 3* reviewer said:

“Ok read. I have to say I enjoyed the beginning and the description of the new planet, but got tired of the fighting within the clan. same old stuff. I was hoping for more info on ‘THEM’ but over all an ok book.”

I hear this. Perhaps my cover image and book blurb were misleading? Maybe it put the focus on the indigenous humanoids at the expense of the human drama I was aiming for?

On Goodreads, one reviewer rated it 2* (It was okay), but didn’t say why. Another reviewer rated it 3* (I liked it), but didn’t expand. Meh! Can’t learn too much from that even though it’s safe to say, if you like really something, you usually say so.

***

So, there it is. Much to ponder over. Lessons to learn. I often wonder whether reviewers are kinder on cheap (in the case, free) books, or should that be a factor when judging a read? Yeah, probably no to the latter question. (PS. A huge thank you to those who have taken the time to write a review!)

Say, if you’ve picked up a few grammatical errors, typos, etc. would you mind pointing them out in the comments section below. You know, give me some more revision work during my time off in December 😉 Seriously, it would be appreciated.

And yeah, I did notice the references to Lord of the Flies and Planet of Apes. I’ll write a blog post about the other books and movies, Eden, Dawn has been compared to soon.

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