Why I Like Reviews

April 3, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

Here’s why I like reviews. But first, I’ve also got to tell you that sometimes they — well, they upset me. More about that later, maybe.

Comments like this recent one on Amazon make my day:

“I will read more Christian novels, based on the fact that this writer has convinced me that Christians can actually write thrillers (one of my favorite genres).”

Every kind of book has its market. You like Amish? Great — you’re the market. But I’m not. I don’t want to read about barefoot, heartbroken farm girls who watch guys put up barns. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of literature. It’s just not for me.

I like to read Lee Child, James Patterson, Steven King. Those guys can write some serious thrillers and suspense! So why can’t someone write like they do, but do it with a Christian world view? Some are doing a pretty good job of it. I want to do it too. It’s why I wrote my debut novel, Friend Me.

Look at this comment from a person who is not a Christian:

“Friend Me is a Christian suspense, meaning a lot of the story’s main issues—primarily Scott’s struggle to resist temptation and remain faithful to Rachel—reference straying away from the path of God, and contain lots of prayer as well. The inherent Christian elements also made it a rather tame dark suspense; there’s nothing gory or explicit, as much of the nitty-gritty occurs behind closed doors. I understand Christian fiction isn’t for everybody, but take my advice with a grain of salt. Even if these religious traits had bothered me, I’d still have enjoyed the book because of how absorbing and intricate the world of VirtualFriendMe is.”

I believe that we Christian writers ought to be able to write gripping, realistic suspense novels that readers won’t put down. If the reader has a problem with the Christian world view, and that problem is strong enough to keep them from finishing the book, is it their fault? No! It’s the writer. The story ought to hold them, the premise ought to so intrigue them, and the characters ought to be so familiar that they wouldn’t put that book down for any reason.

If it sounds like I’m writing only for unbelievers, I say, Not so. When I read comments like this, I bow my head and thank God for the privilege of writing.

“The storyline was refreshingly unique, the characters were realistic (could be your next door neighbors) and electric suspense was evident on every page! The chilling villain, Melissa, was masterfully created and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her weave her web. She reminded me of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Beautiful, intelligent, but undeniably insane. I appreciated how the author kept a focus on God throughout the story, too. I highly recommend Friend Me. It’s a wild ride- Buckle up and enjoy the adrenalin rush.”

So are there reviews I don’t like? Yes, there are. How about this devastating review (the only real negative review we’ve received) from the prestigious Publishers’ Weekly:

“A cardboard villain, who commits a murder with little motivation early on, and an unconvincing online companion made from code mar Faubion’s debut, a novel of suspense.” And, “…alternating points of view make the story hard to follow.”

I have to wonder if that reviewer even read the book. Maybe her hamster died. Who knows. Can I take criticism? Absolutely. Hey, I didn’t learn to speak Chinese without having people laugh at me pretty frequently for the first few years. But seriously? “Little motivation?” A forced abortion while a young teen after being raped by a family member, and a resulting hatred for predatory men is not a motivation? Go figure.

So we can’t win them all. But here’s why I like reviews. When readers and reviewers take time to thoughtfully critique, and objectively review, something I’ve read… well, they have my gratitude and admiration. I don’t care if it’s a one-star or a five-star review. Well, okay, I care some… However, the important thing to me is what I learn from that review.

And let me tell you… after (currently) sixty-six Amazon reviews, I’ve learned plenty. I thank God for the people who have taken time to share their opinions.

活 到 老,学 到 老

In Chinese, we’ve got an expression I like to use: “huo dao lao, xue dao lao” (活 到 老,学 到 老). It means, “You learn, and keep on learning, for your entire life.” I give that Five Stars!

Five Stars - I like reviews

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Category: Writing

About the Author ()

Suspense fiction writer. I have a wife whom I love, and five children ranging from their teens to their forties. I love each one. I've worked a day job as a senior software developer for the last fifteen years. Previous to that I spent nearly thirty years as a foreign missionary in Vietnam and China. Yes, I speak Chinese as a second language :-)

Comments (1)

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  1. I came across your article while scanning authors of Christian thrillers on the ACFW site. Having just finished writing a spy thriller with a underlying Christian message–the protagonist has recently been converted and doesn’t have clue what that means–I was interested in the kind of reviews I might expect of my novel.

    I was also intrigued by your assessment of why there are so few suspense/thriller novels on the Christian bookshelf. Literary agents who read my manuscript said there’s no market for this genre. I don’t believe this.

    Anyway, enjoyed your post and your website setup–was also getting ideas for my author website.

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