I’ve mentioned many times that I review books for two newspapers. With so much responsibility comes a big headache. It’s not possible for me to like every book I read and review and my editor has specifically asked me to be very honest in my reviews and point out the flaws in the books.
Just two days back I finished reviewing a book for the newspaper, to be honest my review wasn’t a favourable one. Actually while reading the first few pages I realized that I didn’t like the way the writer had treated the historical character. Infact, she had made him look like a buffoon. I was absolutely shocked that the book had been published by a big publisher. I mean it made a mockery of an entire section of history, so as to come across as cool and funny, and it had such a flippant tone that I was tearing out my hair in frustration.
Sometimes I wonder how do the commissioning editors overlook all this. I mean when they have so much power vested in them, shouldn’t they be extra careful about the kind of books they publish? Shouldn’t they be concerned with the kind of writing that comes out of their publishing house. Here I’m not saying that the book was badly written with poor grammar and sentence structure. Far from it. I admit that the author had done a lot of research and familiarized us with things we had no knowledge of, but she could have done so without lampooning so many things in history.
Though my review has not belittled the author or her writing skills, I’ve mentioned what I didn’t like about the book (there were many things) and I have clearly mentioned all of them. I feel when the review is published in a few days, I will be ruffling quite a few feathers. But there was no way I could lie and give the book a good rating or praise it when it didn’t deserve it.
Do you think I did the right thing? Should I have overlooked what I didn’t like and not mentioned it in my review? What would you have done in my place?