Now, I'm not talking about being mean or nasty, etc. I'm talking about a critic doing their job: reviewing both good and bad books. Do reviewers have a duty to tell their readers if a book doesn't meet certain standards or if it's rubbish and simply written for a profit?
One of my favorite reviewers admitted that: "It can be hard to publicly proclaim that a book someone worked really hard on is not very good...Even if I know in my heart that a book stinks, it's hard for me to tell everybody that."
Recently I read Washington Post reviewer Patrick Anderson's TRIUMPH OF THE THRILLER, which gives his assessment of today’s best and worst thriller writers. His standards are pretty high, and coincide with my own. I respect him even more for castigating the popular dribble of James Patterson, David Baldacci, and Patricia Cornwell. He writes: “The sin of most of [these] people…is not that they write clunky sentences, although some do, but that they treat their readers like idiots. They deal in cliches, stereotypes, cheap thrills, and ridiculous plots.” My favorite parting shot is from his review of Patricia Cornwell: “You couldn’t pay me to read another of her novels.”
Do we have "praise inflation"? Would it help if reviewers were more honest with readers? Should the feelings of the writers be taken into account? Would writers (and editors) work harder, if they knew there were repercussions for turning out crap. If critics just write good reviews, how can readers make distinctions between a good book and a great book?