Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reviewer Kira and "Tempest" by Julie Cross

GoodReads reviewer Kira wrote a review of "Tempest" by Julie Cross based a a few sample pages offered as a free preview. One of the characters in the sample pages is portrayed as man-hating, and another character refers to the initial character as someone prone to "feminist" rants. Kira objects to what she sees a stereotypical depiction of feminists as man-hating and angry.


The quoted text actually just implies that one man-hating girl identifies herself as a feminist. It never says or implies that all feminists share that same view. Without actually reading the rest of the book, Kira also asserts that the book, as a whole, misrepresents feminism:
The attitude to feminism that this book has is the same as the masses; that all feminists are angry, man-hating bitches with nothing better to do than to moan. Apparently we're all lesbians, too, because the only reason anyone would be a lesbian would be to escape men - it wouldn't simply be because they're naturally attracted to other women. Why, no! How preposterous!
I am also extremely insulted by this book's quite overt insinuation that because I am a feminist, I'm a misandrist.
[As an aside: Kira's entitled to her own opinion of it, but this is a bit silly IOO. If you haven't read the whole book, you can't know how the issue is ultimately dealt with. You can complain about the scenes that you did read, but any further speculation is just...guessing and frankly, we're not impressed by guessing.]

Dan Krokos, author of another book, pops in (big mistake!) and asks what is actually a very pertinent question: "What did you think of the rest of the book?"

Then the discussion goes off into how the text supports harmful stereotypes, confuses feminism and misandry, etc., by reviewers who, mostly, haven't read the book and can't speak reliably about how the book portrays feminism beyond this single scene.

Dan gets accused of trolling by another reviewer, even though he was not the only one to ask what Kira thought of the rest of the book.

Kira feels paranoid because OMGWTFBBQ authors might actually read her review. Later she accuses unnamed authors of stalking her. For reading and responding, I think, to publicly posted reviews. This is about where we flagged this thread for inclusion on this blog.

Another reviewer mentions that reading the entire book might be a good thing. The first bandwagoner to respond to him states, "The narrative supports the 'feminist = evil man hating shrew' stereotype through other characters, including Holly, and especially through the characterization of Lydia herself. She's a walking stereotype practically designed to legitimate it." This bandwagoner also states that she hasn't read the book either, just the few passages that others have posted. 

Julie Cross, the author of the book, jumps in and is very graciousKudos from us, Ms. Cross!

And this only on page 2. The entire response thread is 8 pages and almost 400 comments long. There's much talk of abuse via Twitter, never-ever-OMG-never reading certain authors again, author bashing, high-horse lecturing by reviewers, whinging, etc. Many reviewers tell Kira how sorry they are that, OMG, poor thing, someone said something bad on the Internet about her and/or her reviews, and at the same time saying bad things about authors/author's comments. A couple of other authors make gracious appearances (kudos to them as well!). Dan Krokos eventually apologizes for posting anything at all in response to the review.

Even though we've read a few linked up blog posts, we can't find any screenshots of Dan Krokos' Twitter posts that supposedly "bullied" Kira. Kira says that she does not have a Twitter account and thus could not have been contacted by Dan via Twitter. Cyber-bullying is a very real problem, and it bothers us to see that term misused here. Posting a few stupid comments about someone somewhere on the Internet is, well, stupid, but it's not bullying or harassment.

The whole debacle was tiring to read. Authors shouldn't jump into review threads to complain, period. But it is the height of hypocrisy to write aggressive and hostile reviews and then act surprised and outraged when you receive some hostility in return. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Talk about a tempest in a teapot.

(OK, enough cheesy sayings...)


  1. That's actually a pet peeve of mine -- reviews that insist on treating a single character as a stand-in for an entire group of people instead of as an individual. Such an attitude suggests that an author can't have a character behaving badly or saying unpleasant things if the character is a member of a group that exists in real life. This hampers an author's creativity and ability to create true-to-life characters if the author does not dismiss the attitude as just an opinion that he does not share.

  2. Some people just want to hate what they read. If an author doesn't follow enough stereotypes, some will accuse them of writing unrealistic characters. If an author follows too many, they will be accused of perpetuating incorrect stereotypes, even if those stereotypes might be true in some people, and each character is meant to be one person and not a representation of the whole.

    This is not wrong, per se. People will have their opinions. They should feel free to voice them. Where this reviewer went wrong was in taking her opinion on a scene and making definitive statements about the book as a whole. Such reviews do little to help other readers get a feel for the book. They incite drama and can sometimes lead to hurt feelings.

    I do not think it is the reviewers who are being bullied in such cases.