I love reading reviews. As soon as I’ve finished a book, especially if I adored it, I go onto its Goodreads page and have a browse through the opinions of people who have read it before me. Did they love it as much as me? What were their favourite things about it, who was their favourite character? I want to know that someone else feels the same way about it. Surely someone will have devoured its pages too, fallen in love, felt like they were there.
Inevitably, there are people who don’t like the book. Some people are completely indifferent to it, some people think that it was just okay, and some people downright hated it. I tend to only finish books that I’m enjoying, and so I read the negative reviews with a sense of curiosity. For some people, reviewing books is their job so they finish the book for that reason. But what about other people, why did they finish the book? Out of a sense of completion, or curiosity, or were they hoping it would surprise them at the end and they’d wind up enjoying the book, despite the start?
More than any reviews, I love reading ones that are about my own books. Many people have warned me to never read the reviews on my own work, because I’ll get hurt, or angry, or both. The thing is, I don’t care if someone doesn’t like my work. I’ve read books and loved them so much I lend them to friends, and the friends have hated them, or not even finished them. We all have different tastes and things we like, if someone didn’t like my book they just didn’t like it. It’s not some kind of personal attack on me, it’s just that: they didn’t like it.
Many people have warned me to never read the reviews on my own work, because I’ll get hurt, or angry, or both. The thing is, I don’t care if someone doesn’t like my work.
When I read negative reviews, I want to know why someone didn’t like my work. There are many reasons, sometimes people don’t like my writing style, or they don’t like books in present tense or first person, or the plot was boring to them, they didn’t like the characters, and the list goes on. These are all totally valid in their own ways. The author is dead, once my book is out there it doesn’t matter what I intended. The way it’s received and interpreted by people are all correct. My opinion literally does not matter anymore, there’s nothing else I can do except let people read the book. Their opinion is the one that matters the most.
Of course, I love reading positive reviews of my stories. Nothing makes me quite as happy as when someone will tweet me with a nice thing or a thank you. It’s the reason I write, to make a connection with people. To show them that there are other people who think and feel like they do. That they’re not alone.
Finding myself reflected in fiction is so comforting, and so I am beyond grateful that I can do that for other people. That’s why I read my reviews, all of them.
Someone recently tweeted me about a character in my book, Ida. The character Daisy is a genderqueer person who uses they pronouns. This person on twitter is also genderqueer and uses they pronouns, and Daisy was the first character that they had read that also used the same pronouns. Not everyone directly tweets me their thoughts, and so sometimes I find similar things in reviews. Pretty much all my characters are queer in some way and so there are a few reviewers who say similar things to the person from twitter.
Finding myself reflected in fiction is so comforting, and so I am beyond grateful that I can do that for other people. That’s why I read my reviews, all of them. I want to know how people have connected with my work. That connection is why I do what I do, and why I’ll keep on doing it.
How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?
Ida struggles more than other twentysomethings to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths. One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she's actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she's considered.
How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important...