Investigated – How should books be judged?

Posted April 21, 2014 by Emily in Investigated / 4 Comments


How should books be judged? Should they be judged on their own merit alone, or does judgement on the author play a role too? Should books be judged on how they stand or does the story of how they came to be affect what you think of them too? Why I am I asking these questions? Well, my friend was going on and on about how she will never read a James Patterson book again because she doesn’t like the way he treats his co-authors and how now she hates Maximum Ride when it used to be one of her favorite series. But I think some of his books tell cool stories, so is it fair to say you hate a book (or a series) just because you dislike the author. This is on the basis that your dislike has nothing to do with the writing, of course.

There are a lot of examples. First there James Patterson who apparently creates a skeleton, an outline, if you will, of an idea of a story and then sends it off to his co-author, if he has one, to finish it. What happened to team work? Then there’s Cassandra Clare who allegedly started writing her best selling series, The Mortal Instruments, as an Harry Potter fanfic and plagiarized a bunch of other fanfics along the way. Those are all examples of author who have done some not so nice things. The question is how do we judge their books? 
Personally, I while I think those points should definitely have a part in how a book gets judged, they shouldn’t be part of the main argument why you disliked a book. What I mean is it is kind of irrational to say you hated a novel because James Patterson co wrote it and didn’t do much beyond creating a skeleton. -__- However, then you have things like the Clare incident. Something like that shouldn’t be ignored. (I’m talking about the plagiarized part, not the fanfiction part). Plagiarism is not an issue to be taken lightly. The idea that a published author committed such a crime and is being so successful off it is really shameful. SO should you consider the idea that people are accusing her of copying someone else’s works when she wrote TMI when you judge those books, the answer is yeah, it think that tiny tidbit should be considered. And as a side note: there really needs to be a font or someway to indicate sarcasm.

What do you think?
How should you judge a book?



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4 responses to “Investigated – How should books be judged?

  1. I judge books based on the book itself. How did the final product do in entertaining me? I don’t usually know much about the author, and sometimes I like to believe in ignorance is bliss so my enjoyment does not get tainted. I didn’t know that TMI started out as a plagiarized work. That’s pretty messed up, but not knowing that, it is a pretty good series (well, the first 3 anyway). If I know the author is a jerk I might not even bother reading their book, but if I’m already reading it, I judge it based on the book itself.

  2. Very interesting question. Take it a step further – what if there was, for example, a really nasty person (I’m thinking convicted killer, or someone like a terrorist etc) and what if they would have written a really good book – would we not read it because the author is a horrible person? I don’t think I would pick this book up then. On the other hand, I don’t think I would listen too much to authors verbally attacking authors -on that scenario I would to make my own mind up.

  3. You know, I try not to judge a book based on what the author has done before I’ve even read it because I feel like being an author and being a good, decent person are two different things and you can still be one without being the other. It would be a lie to say that things don’t get muddled together sometimes though. I try to judge a book on its content alone but of course there are things that an author does that reaches me that I 100% don’t support so I’d probably pass on the book they’ve written. But if it’s a book that I have already read and loved and then I find out that the author is doing some terrible things, I don’t think I’d change my opinion on the books. Like I said, being an author and a decent person are different and despite all the horrible things they might have done, I’d still say I liked their books, though maybe a bit regrettably.

  4. I judge a book on the story, not on the author, unless the author has somehow made themselves part of the story by their writing or their actions. So unless I’m fangirling over how awesome an author is (which I’ve been known to do), I focus on the book in my review. Or I try to. 🙂

    However, if an author has been accused of plagiarism (and the evidence is super strong), I avoid them all together. I won’t give it any ‘air time’ so to speak, by publishing a book review. And authors who attack reviewers/bloggers, I avoid them entirely-them and their books. Reviews are for readers, not authors; and complaining about them makes an author look ridiculous and unprofessional. And that’s coming from the author side of me, since I write and review. It’s embarrassing to see some authors whining about one star reviews or someone being mean to their book-baby. *rolls eyes*

    There have been a few times where I have fallen hard for a book and then the author, at some point, does or says something that is a deal breaker for me (i.e. attacks reviewers, has their fans attack reviewers, threatens a reviewer or another author; is horrible to another writer, etc). I can think of three different occasions this happened. I didn’t break up with the book I loved over it-because I was able to separate the author from the characters. And since I loved the characters, I just ignored the name on the cover. (I know, this probably makes no sense; I’m weird. LOL). But I did not buy any other books from the person.