Here is an actual quote of a review of a popular book on Amazon.com. It has serious implications for all serious authors.
“I can’t for the life of me figure out what is with the 4 and 5 star ratings. The writing is mediocre at best, and the characters bizarre, to say the least. The entire story line just didn’t compute for me. I cannot believe a college-age girl, raised in a conservative family, would choose to associate with the low-lifes that seem to proliferate throughout this book. And later in life, she rises to a prestigious job and seems to be more concerned with her boss than her own husband, in spite of their troubled marriage? Nope, doesn’t work for me”.
This book received 81 five star reviews. 55 four star reviews. 28 three star reviews. How is it possible to have this vote of confidence with a review like the one above? I read a sample of the book described and I agree with the reviewer who wrote the above opinion. The book was implausible, the characters cardboard, the ending highly unlikely.
What is scary about this situation is this: I cannot believe that this “author” has 164 relatives, friends, or acquaintances who would provide 164 highly favorable reviews. That leaves us with only once conclusion. At least the last two (maybe more) generations have been taught in government or public schools. Their reading skills are marginal. They lack cognitive ability. This means that they choose mediocre level reading material because that is easy for them to consume. More than two syllable words are hard for them to decipher. Unfortunately, that means that those of us who naturally write on a slightly higher level are out of luck. We are, in the words of the immortal Hemingway, “fucked.”