Book Reviews

Book Review

Please, rate this essay with stars above.

In the book publishing world book reviews seem to have taken an inordinate position in the self-publishers’ arsenal of market strategies. How else is anyone going to decide to buy this book or that one. The idea is to create a buzz in the reader’s world for one’s book so readers get curious and want to read it.

Without a publishing machine behind me as a self-published author, that is easier said than done. I have been at it now for about a year, steadily working at it. One of the ways to get noticed is to write reviews, to visit other people’s blog, to participate in blog hops, etc. One would need almost unlimited time to produce an effect from those strategies. My question is: what is the purpose purpose of the individual author?

The idea to meet with instant success after having thrown your novel out there, into the mass of launched books on line, is the same as thinking you will win the Lotto Max 30 million, although I haven’t worked out the exact odds. I leave it to the number geeks to find that out.
Just to mention the current cliché for success: everyone wished they had been the author of the poorly written book with-an-edge Fifty Shades of Grey. I concluded that as I noticed all the copycat books flooding the market.

Did I really wish I had written that trilogy? On the one hand, yes, as that author is now rich and can write whatever she likes; she doesn’t have to fight for a place under the sun in book-world any more, and financially she sits on roses, not on something hard and unpredictable.

On the other side of things, E.L. James’ writing skills are debatable and already widely discussed elsewhere. Lets’ just say she tried to project the voice of her protagonist, the gullible Anastasia, who, in spite of having acquired a college degree recently, seems to have a limited vocabulary, does not possess a great deal of social and emotional intelligence and is quite immature, in spite of her age. Her character reads more like a 16-year old teenager than a twenty-something young woman. In my view, Anastasia is a troubled young lady, at least in the first book of the trilogy. I couldn’t get myself to read the other two volumes.

Within the context of writing and its purpose: balancing the quality of the writing versus the quantity of sales of a published work, the question is not that easy for me to answer. I want to be an accomplished author, known for being good at my craft. I also would not mind at all becoming rich and famous, so I could write all day, if I want to, and have the financial freedom to travel and live in warm climates and beautiful surroundings. Would I want to achieve that by writing anything that I ethically could not justify for my own peace of mind?

E. L. James wrote 3 books of soft sado-masochistic fare that sort of justifies the powerful and rich lover-boy using women as lust objects through their degradation. I have been told that Anastasia finally conquers the man at the end of part 3 and that he leaves his S&M needs behind, is cured, and loves her in a less demeaning way.

That ending is a fallacy and not realistic, as sexual arousal patterns do not change very much, once solidly ingrained in one’s brain in young adulthood. After that our sexual arousal patterns are pretty much hard wired in, hence we have to deal in society with (incurable) paedophiles and the next step: rapists. I see that untrue ending in E.L.James’ work as distorting the reality and romanticizing an abusive relationship.

Abusive relationships between couples and the murder rate of women are already serious problems of ethical, social and criminal significance for our current society. Highly publicized reports of teen suicides after having been exposed in sexually demeaning situations on the web do not shock us that much any more.

What is the message to our readers if we present the practices of SM books to young women as OK and the message is absorbed that we, women, can change that man? Do they get it that it’s just fantasy? Is that the price of freedom of expression?

The currency now to acquire a boyfriend, or to get attention from a male seems to be offering sex. I am not against sex and sexual freedom and have had my share of it. I am concerned about current youth being less equal, gender being the determinant of one’s role: victimizer or victim.

One could argue that the author’s job is to record and broadcast what is going on in the world and the author is only the messenger, and not to shoot the messenger. Although that is very true, any book in my view also has to be truthful in its depiction of human conditions and human psychology. Fantasy is great, but even fantasy and romance novels are known for being fantasya world that is not real.

E.L. James messed up the boundaries between those territories in my view, as well as what happened in so many other depictions of female degradation in music videos and U-tube clips, going around on line. The myth that mainly adult housewives are reading the millions of copies sold of 50 Shades, thereby reviving their marriages, and not young adolescents, is most likely just that: a myth, even if Dr. Oz says so in his TV show. Is this the next blueprint for young woman of today?
I am worried for our young women, but also for the young men who think demanding or taking power over women through sex would be OK, even if substance use leading up to a rape often is the excuse for both genders’ behaviours.

My novel ON THIN ICE deals with relationships and the struggle of women to be in an equal relationship with their partner. It talks about a personal struggle, but also of a societal one, and possibly very much a generational one. In North American diverse societies I have found that people keep many secrets that remain between couples; privacy is very highly valued, more so than in the northern European societies, especially my home country of the Netherlands. The stories in On Thin Ice throw open the door to that inner, private world and expose the protagonist’s battle–and that of her friends–on how to be a woman in a relationship with a man, with all it problems. Nothing is shoved under the carpet.

I welcome and really appreciate any comments about this subject and your views. Anything you recognize? Or any comments about the reviews?
Would you like to receive a free E copy of ON THIN ICE in exchange for a your review afterwards?

For more reviews see:

About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
This entry was posted in adolescents, Babyboomer, book review, Canadian publishers, Children and child protection, drug use., E Books, latest news items, Parenting, Publishing, sex killings, sex trade workers, Short story, the Netherlands, Uncategorized, woemn and murder, women's issues; torture of women, Writing life, Young Adult books and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Book Reviews

  1. Recent subscription: Is a real person at the other end of this email?  Women’s issues”  — They are unresolved still.   The story still unfolding: It is my personal opinion that a woman was killed because she was extra pretty/sexy to look at. I once contacted the FBI attempting to nail down the identities of cops that caught her between a rock and a hard place and proceeded to ravage her, manipulate her, ruin her sexuality. More? Lee


  2. I never really thought about it the way you have expressed it here. That the vast reading of these novels could be placing false assumptions in the minds of the men and women who read them. It’s an interesting concept, can’t we question the moral code of the author who does this in order to make a lot of money? She probably didn’t realize this would become the raving financial success that is has, but still. I, too, did not read the second or third in the trilogy. One was enough for me, and I dissed the first one pretty thoroughly in a blog post I wrote.

  3. Thanks for your response Lynn. It’s an age old question: the role of writing in society. Not that I would sensure anything, just like being critical.. Ha. I liked your review as well.

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