“I could do better than that”: great works of literature and their hilarious Amazon reviews

Pretty much everyone I know has issues with Amazon — its ethics, its practices, its attempts at world domination one book at a time… there’s a lot to get upset about. However, if you’re into your literature and you like a good laugh, there’s nothing like it. Read on for 16-year-olds trashing Hamlet and then hailing JK Rowling as our “best literary talent”; a guy who reckons he could write a better poem than Ginsberg’s Howl by pounding his head on a keyboard (oh please, please try!), and an American who thinks that Scots is nothing more than “insincere gimmickry.” Hooray for teh internets!

“xxsarahxx” on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
If it didnt [sic] hav [sic] Shakespeare on the front, i wudnt[sic] look twice: I read Macbeth not too long ago, i [sic] really enjoyed it. It was clever, intelligent, thought provoking but a really good story too. So perhaps my expectations were too high, when i [sic] came to study Hamlet as a text for GCSE.
It’s dull, monotinous [sic], boring. The only way you can get anything out of it is if you over-analyse to such a level that you change the plot of the play completely! I apologise to all Hamlet fans out there, but i [sic] really dont see why this play demonstrates Shakespeare as a great British writer.
The soliloquies are perhaps why the play is most famous, and i [sic] had to write a 3000 word essay on how they connect Hamlet to the audience. But they don’t. Apart from one, “tis now the very witching time of night…” they are all bland and show nothing but Hamlet’s idiocy, stupidity, and cowardice.
So there you go, read it if you will. Who knows, it may be a question in a pub quiz, but i [sic] just want to warn you that compared to a lot of Shakespeare’s other work, this just isnt up to scratch. sorry xxx
(Just for fun, here’s another of xxsarahxx’s reviews… of Harry Potter!: “its [sic] not just a lot of codswallop okay - it is amazing, and if u [sic] dont believe me then read it agen [sic], and agen [sic] until you realise just how good this book is!…
The characters are, dare i use the cliche [sic], ‘’so real i feel like i’ve known them my whole life” hehe. The plot is engaging, and immense!! I just hope that people arent [sic] put off by the media frenzy and Daniel Radcliff; and take opeertunity [sic] of one of Britains [sic] betsliterary [sic] talents.”)

“James Murdoch” on William Shakespeare’s Macbeth:
This book is incredibly boring.

This Shakespeare guy is way over-rated.

Iit is written in old English so you need an other [sic] book to simply translate it’s [sic] text. In this day and age you would be insane to read this for fun. Rent a blu-ray disc or go to the cinema or something.

On the other hand if you are doing it for school then I guess you have to buy it.

“A Customer” on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein:
Mary Shelley wrote this book when she was 18 and it really shows. This was the one of the worst books I have ever read, seriously I would rather read the berstein bears. Mary Shelley uses a lot of fancy words and complicated sentence stucture but the book really doesn’t say anything. There is no underlying message, it seems that she creates scenes to move her plot along, for instance the monster must learn how to talk and read so he camps out in someones [sic] shed and observes them for months without detection, it just so happens that there is a foreign woman at the house learning how to speak French. What a coincidence. The plot is not justified, Victor hates the monster because …. I don’t know he isn’t the evil spawn of satan or anything, and then there is the monster drove [sic] to kill because he was lonely? Come on now. Shelley tries to reach emotional climaxes and moving passages but she didn’t have anything to say. The book was boring, it had a bland and combined a very vague writing style full of tautology with not much content, and a “sissy” plot, not at all scary or even plausible

“Dr. Joey Raymoss” on James Joyce’s Ulysses:
My goodness, I honestly pity those unfortunately pretentious people that claim this is a good, let alone great, piece of literature.
The reality is, Joyce wrote this book knowing that the psudo-intellectuals [sic] would read into it in the fear of being regarded as less intellectual than their piers [sic].
Let me set the record straight, I have an official Mensa IQ of 169, and i [sic] studied this book at university. Do you know what I thought?
This book is useless. It’s nonesense [sic]… and it’s meant to be. The joke is on you people that actually buy into the lie and hype of this work. It is nothing but random clip bits of a meaningless bunch of boring characters.
Those who haven’t read it: you gain more from not doing so, because reading this book will do nothing but depress you!

“DARREN “Big Nose” WALKER Darren” (really) on JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye
As this is viewed as a 20th Century classic I thought I might give it a read. Oh dear, thats [sic] a few hours of my life I’ve wasted and will never get back again. This is almost 200 pages of drivel. It tells the inane story of a youth who finds everything he sees and does boring and because he has no enthusiasm for anything I found it impossible to find anything he did of any interest. Plus the 1940’s jargon has not aged well and got on my nerves.

“A Customer” on Allen Ginsberg’s Howl
Trite and undecypherable [sic], this is muck from the human demon that brought us NAMBLA*.

Filks [sic], I could pound on my keyboard randomly and come up with content equally meaningless. However, I doubt it would be accepted by so-called poetry fans with equal rabid enthusiasm.

*NB: Allen Ginsberg did not create the NAMBLA.

“J. Roberts “Jinny” (Maryland)” on Carol Ann Duffy’s Selected Poems
One particularly tired technique used is writing in Scottish dialect. Janet Paisley also uses this technique, achieving a similarly dull and infuriating result. If she had written her poetry in Gaelic, I would have admired her more, even though I cannot understand Gaelic. I would have admired her more because Gaelic is an actual language, whereas ‘Scottish’ is not. ‘Scottish’ is a dialect, and not even a particularly attractive one at that. It sounds unrefined, and frankly, ugly - and this is coming from a person who has lived in Scotland for 20 odd years. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that it limits the readership of her poetry. Anyone other than a Scottish person simply won’t understand words like ‘dug’ (dog), or ‘kenned’ (knew). Besides which, the use of these words doesn’t ring particularly ring true [sic]. People don’t even use words like ‘kenned’ in Scotland. All this serves to do is highlight the contrivance and lack of sincerity in Duffy’s writing. She has probably never spoken in Scottish slang in her life. She is merely using it to marginalise her poetry and give a small-time publisher something ‘local’ to market. Such insincere gimmickry is infuriating.

OK… when you’ve got over the feeling of wanting to repeatedly slap “J. Roberts “Jinny” (Maryland)” in the face, see what you can find. I bet you can dig up a gem to better this lot… anyone who does will win a prize (for reals!).

(Photo by Soozika)

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11 Responses to ““I could do better than that”: great works of literature and their hilarious Amazon reviews”

  1. Philippa Says:

    Oh Claire, how fun!!

    stephen’s review of Pride and Prejudice:

    “I used to hate Mr. Darcy, until I found out he has ten thousand a year, now i’m madly in love with him.” Yes I know that’s a wilful misinterpretation, but the tortuous language, the upper class snobbery, and the unromantic linking of money and love are just too much! So there.

    And “a customer” with a “literature degree” said this on P&P:

    ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was the first book I had to review for my literature degree and the most laborious experience of my reading life. If you are looking for a display of naive romanticism then this is certainly the book for you. I found the motives of the characters shallow and the plot dull. Austen - you are the weakest link! Goodbye.

    Admittedly, Austen isn’t for everyone but I think these people really missed the point :P


  2. Claire Says:

    Philippa — I’m especially skeptical about that literature degree… given that the person doesn’t know the difference between “romanticism” and “romance”…!

  3. Claire Says:

    Also… “I used to hate Mr. Darcy, until I found out he has ten thousand a year, now i’m madly in love with him” <– WTF?! She knew about his fortune at the START of the book, ie, when she hated the guy. Money has nothing to do with it! Aaaargh!

  4. Weston you-know-the-rest Says:

    Ha. Thank you, America! I’m now ashamed of my home country.
    Have we stooped that low? I’ve read many of the books on that list (save Harry Potter, and I’m holding a copy of Pride and Prejudice) and found them to be amazing!
    Next ONS contest: Best these book reviews!

  5. Claire Says:

    Weston — you’ll be happy to hear that these are actually all from Amazon.co.uk! So they’re British… I’m actually preparing another post with some Amazon.com ones, though, and the American ones are just as good! :)

  6. Weston you-know-the-rest Says:

    Oh, bless you, Claire! That’s a… a… I can’t describe it!

    But the ashaming ones come next… I better start besting.
    Time to read Pride and Prejudice.

  7. Colin Will Says:

    Oh, this was such a reality jolt Claire. The comments on people writing in Scots are particularly stinging. Mind you, it happens elsewhere. A reviewer in S**inx recently wrote that one of my authors wrote in Scots just to make things more difficult for readers! Plonker!

  8. Beth Says:

    That Ulysses review is hilarious - so you’ve got a high IQ (apparently) - that means your opinion is more important than everyone elses?

    Nobody can knock James Joyce without incurring my wrath haha!

  9. Weston you-know-the-rest Says:

    Ok, I found the review I’m entering. Romeo and Juiliet just got dogged.

  10. morganne Says:

    “If she had written her poetry in Gaelic, I would have admired her more, even though I cannot understand Gaelic.” HAHA. I love Jinny. I love Jinny from Scotland/Maryland(? I’m confused) because she made me laugh.

    “A Kid’s Review on To Kill A MockingBird:
    To Kill a Mockingbird is the first and only book by the author Harper Lee. it is a work of fiction ut seems to be very realistic. it takes place in the early 1930s when there was lots of racism in the south. it teals the story of the trial of a black man acussed of raping a white girl. personnally i HATED this book! other people have regarded this book as a masterpeice of american literature but i find it horribly overrated and dumb. i dont really see why everyong loves it so much. it just tells a story of 3 dumb kids trying to get a freaky little guy named boo radley to leave his house for once. i donnt find it that great. if you like readig overated books, go for it. sorry but noo thanks. to kill a mockingbird is a book i can do without.”


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