Frog gives Vokhtah 1.5 out of 4

Some weeks back, I sent Vokhtah off to a reviewer called Frog. I’d found Frog on Goodreads, and was impressed with his reviews. In fact, I was so impressed with one of those reviews I bought the book and really loved it. So I respected Frog’s reviews before sending Vokhtah off, and I still do.

Frog’s review talks quite a bit about the world building in Vokhtah, and that made me happy. The fact that Frog couldn’t get into my characters at all made me sad, but I can understand why he made no emotional connection to them or with them. Every criticism he levels against the excessive otherness of Vokhtah is true, and I truly appreciate those of you who soldiered on through Vokhtah regardless.

But…

I knew all this before I published Vokhtah. It was one reason why I decided to go straight to self-publishing in the first place. Vokhtah is not very accessible, I admit it. Maybe one day I’ll write a watered down story about Vokhtah and its people from the perspective of an outsider, and that story may be more accessible, but it will be a story about that outsider, that human being, and that is not the story I want to write. Not yet, at least.

I’d like to thank Frog formally for a reasoned, scrupulously fair review. No writer wants to get a 1.5 ‘star’ review, but if one is necessary then let it be like this one :

http://blog.jonestales.com/?p=2508

cheers

Meeks

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

22 responses to “Frog gives Vokhtah 1.5 out of 4

  • The Importance of Thick Skin | The Pink Agendist

    […] care anyway‘- which of course, is true, but you shouldn’t either. I was reading Meeka the other day, she wasn’t entirely content with a review she got for Voktah. The thing is, […]

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  • Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)

    As someone who writes a lot of book reviews, I will admit I’m pretty impressed with how Frog supported his reaction to the book. (At least I’m assuming Frog is male…) He still makes it clear that the book has lots of positives. I’m more intrigued than ever now since as a writer I find it interesting that you’ve put the reader into a world and don’t ease them into that world. I usually tend to steer clear of fantasy and science fiction because the world-building efforts usually let me down or leave me reeling, but maybe it would be different with the approach you’ve taken. In any case, at least he didn’t just throw you under the bus.

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    • acflory

      lol – no, he didn’t throw me under a bus, and it’s that reasoned approach that I appreciate as well. I would love to have the outcome be different, but at least I can respect his method.

      Throwing readers in at the deep end is something of a trope in science fiction. C.J.Cherryh did it with Cyteen [Hugo award winner], and I’m a huge fan of Cherryh’s but even after multiple reads I still don’t understand parts of Cyteen. Of course, what Cherryh could get away with and what I can get away with are two very different beasts. I do know that. 😦

      Actually, I wrote the prologue to try to subtly explain a few things before the stroy proper began but I suspect I just made the otherness worse.

      I’m not game to ask you to review Vokhtah, especially now, but if you’re curious I’d be happy to send you a copy. No strings.

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  • Ilil Arbel

    No, you should NOT write a watered down verstion of Vokhtah just because someone hiding behind the name “Frog” which I hope was not the name given to him by his parents” did not grasp it. The “otherness” of the characters is one of the reasons the book is so good. Froggy simply don’t have the sophistication to understand such high quality approach to Sci Fi, and it’s his/her/its loss.

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    • acflory

      -hugs- I won’t Ilil! I promise. For better or worse, Vokhtah is what it is. The only reason I posted about Frog’s review is because not doing so would have felt as if I was trying to hide it. I’m just a little stunned that the bulk of his criticism was for the characters themselves.

      Do you remember when you and David did the beta reading and I asked you if certain scenes were too shocking? All along, that’s where I’ve expected the criticism to fall, and I still don’t understand why it hasn’t.

      Anyway, I’ve seen how awful 1 star reviews on Amazon can be and Frog’s review was NOTHING like those so I take comfort from that.

      I do thank you though, for all your support, past and present. πŸ™‚

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  • metan

    Characters are all about personal taste aren’t they? Number 1 son recently started a book and after the first few pages he was really struggling with understanding the characters and what was going on. I read a bit of it and explained to him that the first person character wasn’t a human but a dragon. It hadn’t occurred to him and it was something that wasn’t explained. Once he understood that he dived in and really enjoyed it. (I picked up number 2 in the series for him during the week so it must have been good).

    If the characters aren’t something you are expecting, or used to, it can be quite hard to understand them, I /liked/ the unusual characters in Vokhtah. πŸ™‚

    Nice to see that there were positive aspects to the review though. I hate reading a review that is just negative. Maybe his problem with being introduced to characters etc by being thrown in the deep end might be a reason to put the glossary at the start instead of the end?

    I liked the suggestion of it being a game though… Well, the book was written from the heart of a gamer, wasn’t it!

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    • acflory

      Oh, I like dragons too. πŸ™‚ Actually I remember how much of a struggle it was the first time I read on of C.J.Cherryh’s science fiction novels so perhaps I should have taken that into consideration. But like No.2, once you get the hang of it, that story telling method really does suck you in.

      I have a feeling you’ve suggested having the glossary at the front before. And someone else mentioned they wished they’d looked at the dictionary first as well. Methinks it’s time I listened to good advice!

      Thanks Metan, my project for today will be to rearrange Vokhtah a little. πŸ˜€

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      • metan

        I did suggest it before but I thought it might have just been me. πŸ™‚ Frog’s comments made me think that he might have been more amenable to the otherworldly characters if he had a bit of knowledge about them first.

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  • davidprosser

    Heck, if he did that to your book I’d never dare send one of mine.
    Frog was animated about your world building and recognised how hard you’d worked to build that. Kudos, we all saw the work that went into creating an alien environment that would stretch us. But once you accept the world is wholly alien you get chance to identify with the characters.Well, as much as human can identify with alien. We’re supposed to like Blue but at the start I didn’t find him likable. Part of his alien-ness I suppose but I did warm to ‘IT’ as the story progressed .
    I’d say Frog was very fair in his assessment of the overall world but with the characters it came down to his own scale of likability and taste.His taste obviously runs to characters he can identify with and you refused to go down that path from the outset to create a world none of us could identify with. I don’t think he gave enough credit in his scoring for that fact.
    As for offering Vokhtah to a game developer, great idea. They could really bring the characters to life and maybe people would have a better ability to follow the characters in the book.
    Well done for not throwing plates at the wall.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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    • acflory

      -grin- You guys always know how to cheer me up. πŸ™‚

      And you’re right, one of my aims was to create a world and a people who were not us in disguise. lol I think I achieved that perhaps a little too well.
      -big hugs in return-

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  • Candy Korman

    Taste is such an unknown variable. At least Frog was able to identify what he didn’t enjoy and you were able to deal with the critique. Sometimes negative responses are vague, confusing or simply impossible β€” like when a reader doesn’t like the premise (a bad start) or wants novel length character development in a short story (crazy) or picks apart the minutia of a complex, house of cards style mystery, expecting realism in a fantasy world. I’m very impressed by your reaction to the review!!!

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    • acflory

      lol – don’t be. I’ve spent the last couple of hours digging holes to centre myself. It did hurt, especially as I thought I’d managed to create interesting and sometimes likable characters despite their otherness. But the truth is you’re right, we all like, and want different things from fiction, and our value judgements are going to reflect those differences. And hey, he did say some nice things about my world building. Maybe I should offer Vokhtah to a game developer. πŸ˜€

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  • EllaDee

    It’s good to get perspective from a variety of readers. I’m not sure if you remember but what was interesting for me about Vokhtah was that I was quite engaged by the characters. I felt a little tug of regret when it ended, and I had to take their leave.
    I’m not sure if not being able to get into the characters in a book is a reason to award less stars. I recently read as a book club selection Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. My only issue with the book was I couldn’t engage with the characters, I just didn’t get them, with an emphasis on the “I”. Some in my book club felt similarly, others not. But, I gave it Goodreads 3 stars out of 5 because the book was well written, and clever. It also has a swag of awards.

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    • acflory

      I don’t know. 😦 Characters are incredibly important to me in my own reading, and I’ve been known to stop reading a book if I truly loathe the main character. Maybe something similar happened to Frog. Or maybe the otherness got on his nerves. I’m just so glad that you and my other wonderful readers could engage with the characters. -hugs-

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  • laurieboris

    I hope you never have to water your characters down, Meeks. You’re right, some may not resonate with them. Some people don’t like coffee or chocolate or ice cream. Or even puppies. You never know. But that he credited the writing is a good thing to take away.

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  • pinkagendist

    You’ve obviously ‘got it’. This is the right place to be in life. The day I understood that some people got me, some didn’t, and all had the right to go either way, was the day I was free- and I haven’t regretted a moment since…

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  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    Yes, even not so great reviews can be meaningful. I just saw one for one of my books that rated it a three star. The reason he gave was that there was not enough world building or action and too much character emotion. Yet that is precisely what all the other reviews praise. It just wasn’t his kind of book. The funniest part was that he said he finished it because it was “well written”. Hey, I can take that. Obviously there are other readers who love Vokhtah. You simply can’t please everyone.

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  • Kathryn Chastain Treat

    The sad truth is that not everyone will like our books or “get” the characters. You are taking this very well.

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    • acflory

      Thanks Kathryn. I kind of knew I was cutting my nose off to spite my face in writing Vokhtah the way I did. But you see, Vokhtah is… my legacy in a way. It’s the story I always wanted to tell, in the way I wanted to tell it. And I guess I’ve had time to process just how inaccessible it actually is, so I can’t complain. πŸ™‚

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