Truth in Advertising

The Martian I just finished The Martian by Andy Weir. It is a great read. One of the best sci-fi stories I’ve come across in a few years.

Go read it. I’ll wait.

As I was sitting there in post-book malaise (you’ve ll been there…that period of grieving after you’ve finished a great book and you’re hurting because the relationship ended too soon) I started looking at Amazon reviews.

As of today, The Martial has 3,389 reviews. Over 2,400 of those are 4-star. Thirty-one are 1-star reviews. Let me give you a sampling of these benighted opinions:

I thought this would be about the psychological journey of someone stranded on Mars. When the other reviews mentioned it was ‘scientific’ I thought the real story would emerge through the details. But no. There’s no inner story here. It’s a technical manual.” — Some Idiot.

“I don’t know what I was expecting but the whole story was about putting things together and was way too technical for me. I could not make heads or tails out of the equipment. my husband enjoyed it. But I could not get one quarter of the way through it. I did not like the writing, it did not engage me.” — Some Other Idiot

The main character is leaving a record of his experiences, one which would presumably be discovered by other astronauts. Was it really necessary then to explain how to make water? I imagine other astronauts and scientists would know these details. Not only was this dull, it seems unnecessary in the context of the tale.” — Yet Another Idiot

Alert readers will notice a theme here. These 1-star reviewers were saying “I didn’t like this book because I don’t like this kind of book.”  It’s not uncommon in bad reviews and makes you think the reviewer is an idiot.

BUT

The book description and many of the reviews aren’t a very accurate description of the book. They lean heavily on the “Robinson Crusoe” vibe and use emotiony words like “relentless” and steadfast. They could lead a reasonable person to expect a book with a lot of psychological and emotional exploration of getting marooned on an uninhabitable planet.

In fact, the book is a technothriller with all the emotional engagement of a porno. An excellent technothriller with all the emotional engagement of a porno, but that’s what it was.

The one-star reviewers actually fell for a bait-and-switch. They had a right to be angry about it. When you’re preparing your Amazon page or back cover copy, do a better job than this. Make sure it matches the tone of your story or the facts in your book.

They’re still idiots for not liking The Martian. I freakin’ love this book. But they’re not the kind of idiot they first appeared to be.

One thought on “Truth in Advertising

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