The Goodreads KillerThe Goodreads Killer by Dave Franklin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Pre-read: Am I going to regret this? Possibly.

Am I curious about it? Yep.

Dude, it feels weird to read a fiction book about Goodreads…on Goodreads.

I’d say Inception, but that joke’s been told one too many times.

Post-read:

I was kind of hoping for something dark but darkly humored, maybe in the way of Jeff Lindsay’s “Dexter” series, but this not only didn’t really push its humor well, but it pretty much sank with the ending.

Full review:

A few notes before I start the verse portion of this review because I think this book warrants some reflections that I can’t expound upon properly in verse no matter how I might try. This book had me toggling between reading it and choosing not to read it because for the very nature of the read – it comes on the heels of a controversy that’s been meandering its way through and around the Goodreads community (as well as social media) in spells. You could say it’s a author/reviewer debate, but I’m more inclined to say that it’s a rift that’s caused by a lack of understanding in the nature of what reviews really are: reflections upon the reader’s experiences and how they choose to express those reflections.

I think it’s worth knowing that no one (author, peer reviewers, or the larger reading audience) can control what an individual person thinks or feels about a book, nor can they control the individual’s perception of the “celebrity” an author may have and what comes in the transpiration of that, for better or worse. I think Franklin chose to make this something of an expressed satire over the whole situation, but while on one hand I laughed about the concept of a fictional disgruntled author “reviewing the reviewers,” another part of me wondered if it was feeding into the idea that the reviewers were noted as the “bad” party and that the author, for what he does in the progression of this tale, is somehow the hero (well, rather the anti-hero). Especially for the way this book ended.

I almost wish this book had the brilliance of say “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” or Jeff Lindsay’s “Dexter” series, in that there’s a dark twist or inflection of humor that delves into the finer points of the conflict contained, but still makes it open enough to laugh about. The idea for this work was great, but the execution wasn’t there. I have a very open sense of humor myself and sometimes my own humor can be a little “dark.” I actually followed this narrative for a while without much judgment, but for the badly explicitly written sex scenes (seriously, they were bad) and the ending – it pretty much kept me from giving this the original two stars that I was going to give it for the effort.

I think “The Goodreads Killer” had a hard time conveying parts of that humor/satire for what it aimed. Some of the humor was easy to pick out (what with sexual references about pens and the elongated banter about the struggles of the artistic life), but others made me side eye my screen and say “Really? He went there? That won’t go over so well, I think.”

I had quite a few song progressions to choose from for writing the verse in this review: from Beyonce’s “Why Don’t You Love Me” to Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” to a few J-pop/rock songs, to the Irish punk of Flogging Molly’s “Drunken Lullabies.” (I almost did the latter because that would’ve been hilarious to carry. Sadly, I couldn’t carry it for very long.) I ended up deferring to something else (and probably rather ballsy, but screw that).

I decided to write this in the progression of Radiohead’s “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”. It’s called “Putting Pen to Page.” This is pretty much in line with the events of the novella here, and retains some of the darker tonalities of the work. I’m going to approach it differently though – taking the perspective of the author first and then the reviewer and give it a reflective balance. This isn’t so much funny (because the matter its based on isn’t), as it is a cruel series of contradictions. I’ll have some afterthoughts following the verse.

Putting Pen to Page (featuring Thomas Ultorem and Bryan Acari of “The Goodreads Killer: A Revenge Fantasy)

Thomas = Writer, Bryan = Reviewer

Thomas:

How dare you take my bliss
And seal it with a kiss?
“Pigs write better than this”
Makes me add you to my list.*

She’s the apple in my eye,
But she won’t take my pie,**
She’s says she’s a fan,
But I’m only just a common man.

Everyone’s a critic now
I’ll find you some way, somehow
Make you understand my pain
Knocked at the knees, driven insane.***

Don’t want to stain my hands,
But not giving to your demands
This art’s a compliment,
But the walls seem so bent.

Bryan:

Just knowing it’s a book
Wasn’t worth a second look
For the time that it took
Doesn’t make me some damned crook.

What you really want from me?
Just ’cause I think what you can’t see
Doesn’t mean you can take me down,
Don’t take me down, down, down.****

Thomas:
But you’re tryin’ to steal my crown,
Hear your name all over town.
Your tales from the sea*****
Aren’t as strong as you’d think they’d be.

Thomas and Bryan:

Why you gotta be so mean?
Why you gotta be so mean?
Why you gotta be so mean?
Why you gotta be so mean?

Thomas:

You can run away from me,
But you won’t get so far, you see?
String you up like this pig
And make the grave that you dig, dig, dig.******

Bryan:

Put the pen to your page,
Set your story on your own stage,
Don’t string my thoughts on your back
And make me the blame for what you lack.

Just put the pen to the page,
Just put the pen to the page.

The blinking cursor on your screen,
The worries on which you lean,
The thoughts that make you seethe,
Don’t make it right to take the air I breathe.

Fin.

* Thomas gets mad at Bryan for writing a scathing review of his book, ends up getting drafted by a secret group that encourages Thomas to kill Bryan. And the shelf Bryan actually used was “Pigs Write Better Than This”.

** This verse is a reference to two meetings with female characters that Thomas has – in the beginning of the book as well as for a good section of the middle. Thomas tries to offer her pie and gets bit by her dog (shows also what a creepy guy he is). The second part of the verse illustrates his adoring female fan who actually has sex with him as he’s reading lines to her. Not to mention she likes his “pen.” *rolls eyes*

*** Thomas gets physically beat up to a pulp throughout this book by people, and he’s none too happy about it.

**** Bryan actually has no idea that Thomas wants to kill him, but I thought that would make an interesting reversal for this verse presentation. He’s a reviewer who left the review of the book and is living his life as an aspiring author and musician, a fact that Thomas criticizes through the text.

***** This references Bryan’s own work as an aspiring author. Thomas takes potshots in the narrative at this work.

****** Summary of what Thomas planned to do with Bryan. And this pretty much killed my impression of the book.

Overall score: 1/5 stars

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