In doing so, one is advised to keep in mind the adage about following the money trail; some reviewers offer uncritically positive views because they are selling the book. One should also weed out blatantly unfair comments, especially on the negative side, as well. Be mindful, too, that some observations will be diametrically opposed to others, as when one reviewer calls the plot “boring” or “predictable” and another sees it as “well-paced” or “surprising.” (I tend to winnow out such contradictions unless there are many more on one side than there are on the other.) Also be careful to reject comments that are nothing more than superlatives (“rich plot”) or their opposites (“stupid plot”) which are so general and vague as to be meaningless.
Occasionally, younger readers will offer a review of the book without having finished reading it. Of course, this is not acceptable for most readers outside the circle of their peers, but it offers writers one advantage. Most writers, especially mystery writers and horror writers, present their readers with a red herring regarding the cause of the plot’s events, saving, for near the end, the true cause. For example, in The Taking, Dean Koontz suggests that aliens who seek to terraform the Earth in reverse, to make it hospitable for the army of their kind which is to follow, are responsible for the horrific incidents he details, whereas, in fact, the true cause is something else (an invasion of demons). According to the half-baked reviews of the adolescents who submit their takes on Desperation before they have finished reading King’s novel, the cause of the strange goings-on in the story is the madness of a police officer. Their reviews show that King has succeeded, with these reviewers, at least, in his sleight-of-mind suggestions that the strange and uncanny events are caused by something other than their true cause, which, as it urns out, is not a “mad cop,” as one reviewer believes (and as King has led him to suppose), but a demon, Tak, who has escaped from a caved-in mine and who now seeks to show his superiority over God, whom Tak regards as merely a competitive deity, rather than the one and only Supreme Being.
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
Desperation by Stephen King
In case you were wondering (you probably weren’t), my own takes are that Summer of Night is well worth reading, The Terror is nigh unreadable, and Desperation is one of King’s best books ever. The reasons for these assessments, in nutshells, are Summer of Night's realistic and believable recreation of America as it was for many during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, sympathetic characters, effective chills and thrills, and an interesting back story concerning the history of the bell that focuses and draws the ancient evil to the novel’s unsuspecting and enchanting town; The Terror's needless detail about the most minute aspects of everything nautical and historical, characters who are difficult to get to know, much less to care about, and a lack of overt action during most of the story; and Desperation's sympathetic and believable characters (always a strength in King’s fiction), an interesting antagonist, high stakes, the religious and moral dimensions, and, of course, the chills and thrills. Concerning Desperation, it was difficult to find any negative comments among horror fans.