Today I am bringing you something different. The other side of the coin. I am featuring a mixed review. When I began this journey, I always used The Perks of Being a Wallflower, All the Bright Places, and The Fault in Our Stars as my benchmarks.
I am going to do that again.
There is no such thing as a one size fits all book. I do have a few mixed reviews. Every book will. So far, I am still trending in the same direction as these 3 books. Mixed reviews are not a bad thing because there are so many factors that determine if an individual will or won’t like a story. I made the decision to market this wide. When you do that, you open yourself up to a broad audience. The hope is that for every 1 mixed review, I get 2 positive reviews. The mixed reviews are just as important for me because they show that my wide net is working.
I want to thank Connor Stompanato for allowing me to feature this review. Connor is a BookTuber located in the United Kingdom. Go give him a follow!
We connected in my early days when I was organizing my book tour. I saw he was a BookTuber and I was looking to try and get my book in front of some social influencers.
So why feature this review? Connor brought up three negatives and I wanted to address them so future readers can use this to help determine if they should pick up a copy of my book.
- Pop Culture References
“there were a lot of pop culture references which isn’t something I love, but that’s just personal taste”
My book takes place during 2010-2011 and I use lots of pop culture references. I am big into stories and most stories come from pop culture. This is a personal preference and Connor acknowledges that he just doesn’t care for this. It’s a big portion of the atmosphere and the world I built. If you liked Ready Player One, come check this out. If this sounds like a negative, that is fine too.
- “Deep” dialogue
“The characters sometimes spoke rather “deeply” and didn’t talk like real teenagers a lot of the time and that took me out of the story a little.”
The character that speaks the deepest is Kevin, who is the guidance counsellor. Outside him, there are moments when the characters do get emotional. This is usually reserved for intimate moments between friends. I can think of a particular instance when the main character does say something deep during a class. He then immediately realizes he spoke to the class the same way he thinks in his head. He becomes self-aware and is surprised/confused by the situation. The main character is a deep thinker. When you finish the book, you will understand just how deep and vivid his mind can get.
My “deep” dialogue is actually me trying to project intelligent characters. One way to show intelligence is in communication. By having characters giving long, emotional speeches, I think it does help to show this group of people as the intelligent outcasts of the school. I also think lots of readers resonate with this viewpoint. The viewpoint of an introvert. Quiet in groups and new environments, but talkative amongst good friends and when comfortable.
- The way I handle the outing of a character
“A character is also outed and I thought that was not handled well and the implications of this are shrugged off.”
Some context: the main character goes through a difficult day and gets frustrated and angry. He then goes online and posts something that was only an unconfirmed rumour. In the book, my main character goes down a different path from then on and these characters don’t interact much the rest of the novel. The post online was also done anonymously, so no one knows who did it. The implications are not highlighted in the book because of the anonymity and the divergent path the main character goes down. There is more to that story, but we don’t get to see it because it isn’t a part of our main character’s journey. I also think the fact it is in the book, shows the character has deep regret. It is one of the many things bouncing around in his head.
This portion of the story is something I thought about long and hard. In the end, there are so many social issues in this book, I decided to leave it because the hope is we can teach lessons and start important conversations around this material. Here is some more insight into that moment from the book:
- Stop and think before posting/saying anything harmful, you can change a life in an instant.
- Never post something personal about another person without their permission…cyberbullying is a serious issue
- Forgive mistakes. Allow yourself and the people impacted the opportunity to heal the wounds. If the original mistake had been forgiven, the outing never happens…
- Books exist so we can learn from them. Don’t repeat the mistakes of these characters. Learn from these words so we can become better.
- The biggest lesson, never act out of anger. You will always regret it. Take a night to sleep on anger. Take a walk or a jog. When you are angry, your mind is clouded. Your first instinct is often the most hurtful. Take some time!
I don’t condone the behaviour in my book, it is here for entertainment and to teach. To my young readers: don’t do drugs or drink! Don’t cyberbully! Please, never, ever, ever discuss another person’s sexual choices without their permission!!!
Now Connor did highlight some strengths as well:
“It has some really heartfelt, sad moments but was overall an enjoyable read.”
“The writing style is rather unique, the dialogue is written like it would be in a script. This never really bothered me though and I got used to it quickly. It actually makes the book much faster to read (not in a bad way).”
I am giving my book away for free in part because the story has some very strong social issues in it and I think it could help lots of people see life from a different perspective. There are some big conversations we can have around this book and I am happy to engage. I have done a few interviews talking about mental health and would be happy to do interviews on any of the other subjects in my book.
As I was writing this, I asked Connor one question over Instagram: “Do you regret reading my book?”
He answered: “No not at all! I liked it and thought it was a good story with an interesting main character.”
Thank you again Connor for your honesty and for allowing me the opportunity to feature your review! My goal is to entertain and when Connor told me he didn’t regret reading it, I was satisfied. I will take mixed reviews if it is helping to get some of the social issues in my book out in front of the platform. Please reach out if you would like to discuss this or any other topic from my book.
Keep those minds sharp and happy reading!