Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Pirate's Daughter

I started posting book reviews on Amazon before I even started my blog. I had picked up a book at a Christian music event, and the writer encouraged me to post a review there if I liked it. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I loved the book and wanted to help the writer promote it, so I posted it. After I posted that first review, I was listed as reviewer #50,467 (or something like that). I started looking at other reviewer's numbers, comparing them, of course, to mine. I started posting reviews pretty regularly, and even more so after I started up my blog in March of 2006. My goal has been to become a Top 1000 reviewer. When you reach that level, you get that neat little graphic under your name labeling you as such. In February of this year, I broke the 2000 mark. I'm currently at 1594. The number is made from some odd and nearly incoherent data: how many votes your reviews get matters far more than the amount of reviews that you do. So someone with 100 reviews and 5000 votes is ranked at 1000, while I have 348 reviews and 3200 votes and 1594. While that bugs me a bit, what really gets me is how the Amazon community reacts to and tries to effect these numbers. After I posted my review of One Drop by Bliss Broyard, I received a comment on my review from a man calling me a racist. I responded with a denial, to which he responded with a lengthy diatribe on just why I am a racist. At the same time, several of my reviews done around the same time suddenly acquired negatives votes. It appears that because he dislikes me, he's attempting to lower my rating.

Another feature of Amazon is that you can make "friends" with other readers/reviewers. A nice man named Marc asked me to be his friend, and I accepted. Marc read some of my reviews and left nice comments about them, but apparently Marc has a Amazon stalker who doesn't like him or anything he likes. So the stalker gave me negative votes because of their anger at someone else!

This all seems extremely ridiculous to me. I review books because I love them and trying to be a top 1000 reviewer is something cool I'd love to do, but it never ceases to amaze me how petty people can be. Harriet Klausner has been Amazon's number one reviewer for years. She posts 10 or more reviews a day. But if you see the ratings her reviews get (click on the link on her name and you'll see just what I mean), you can see the jealousy people have toward her status. Granted, I think she gives way too many 5 star ratings, but it seems as though people regularly go through her reviews just to give them negative votes. That doesn't strike me as fair play.

The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson is the story of Ida, a beautiful Jamaican girl who falls in love with Errol Flynn, and their daughter May. Ida is lovely, sure of herself, and wanting something more than the tiny home of her parents. When the thirteen year old meets Flynn after he's nearly shipwrecked off the coast of Jamaica, she's immediately smitten with the legend. Flynn is equally smitten with himself, but it takes him years to notice Ida's charms. Despite accusations of statutory rape back in the States, he woos and beds her, until she becomes pregnant. He quickly fills his life with movies and other women while Ida struggles to take care of her daughter, May, and her elderly father who is failing. When she goes to the US to make money to care for them, she runs into an old friend of Flynn's and soon marries the Baron. But May is abandoned in Jamaica for several years. Her incongruous appearance makes it difficult for her to fit in: her light brown hair and white skin confuse both races, but everyone on the island knows who her father is. Eventually Ida and her new husband, Karl, return and raise May who struggles for her identity. This is a fantastic story of two women and how they fight to discover love and how they fit into the world. Ida's desire for more out of life puts her in frightening situations until she finds safety in Karl's arms. But when he betrays her, her sense of loss sends her back to the home she once reviled, and she comes to appreciate its charm. May can't quite figure out who she is. Her skin color doesn't help, neither does an absentee father and distracted mother. May falls in love with Flynn's old friend Nigel Fletcher (modeled after Ian Fleming of James Bond fame), but unlike Flynn, Nigel doesn't give in to his baser instincts and May is both better and worse for it.Violence spills from the main island to Bella Vista, the family's retreat, and their foundations are shaken to the core. Secrets are everywhere, and not all are answered. While the book covers the frightening, complicated political situation of the 1960-70s, it still could serve as a guide for the tourism industry. Navy Island is described in all of its lush glory, and I would love to try an Otaheite apple. This book is so filled with multifaceted and fascinating characters, it's almost an epic. This story is just as complex and rich as its island setting. A great read.

I've been struggling for the last couple of days in trusting God with some things. I've begged and pleaded and prayed continuously and gotten no answer. I've been reading How To Forgive When You Don't Feel Like It by June Hunt because I've been dealing with just that issue. Last night I finally prayed and gave it up to God. I felt an immediate relief from letting go of my hurt. This morning I opened up my cellphone to find that Molly had changed my banner on it to Believe. That was definitely God speaking to me through my daughter. And when I got home, my prayers had been answered. In the book, Hunt points out that we may be holding blessings away from ourselves by holding the hurt too closely. Amen to that!


Timothy Fish said...

The Amazon community is what it is. I have encountered a few people who disagreed with my opinion on a few things and they have made that clear. Negative reviews are more likely to be considered helpful by the average user, since they want to hear both sides of the issue, but most of the people who visit the page a book is on have some reason for supporting the book. The friends and family of an author will be quick to mark negative reviews as unhelpful. I can imagine that things get rather interesting near the top of the rankings. I would imagine that the best strategy is to provide helpful information and rank the books high, if you want to get near the top.

Christy Lockstein said...

I guess I should have clarified. I'm complaining about viewers giving even good reviews negative votes simply because they don't like the reviewer.