Book Riot published a post last week: “Four Bookish Phrases That Could Use Improvement.”
Honestly, I kind of disagree with the whole premise of the article. These are supposedly phrases that don’t do any good and should be stricken from our collective reviewing vocabulary.
The last two – “This novel needed an editor” and “I wanted to like this book, but I didn’t” – I think are perfectly valid statements, if not all that detailed. But most reviewers who use them either follow them up with the reasons why or are purposely keeping their thoughts brief. More description is helpful, sure, but I get the gist.
Continuing backwards, the second phrase on the list – “I didn’t connect with the characters.” The author isn’t so much saying this is sloppy reviewing (although he’s doing that too); instead he seems to be dismissing this as a reason to not like a book. “I chuckle at this one, because I assume the reader is upset the author didn’t specifically check with him/her before populating the novel.” Um, condescending much? I’ll like or not like a book for whatever reasons I feel, thank you very much.
But still, the one I feel the most need to defend is #1 on the list.
Once again, probably no one is going to say “meh” and have that be the entirety of their review… but you know what, if they did, I’d still know how they felt about it. I might not know why exactly, but “meh,” even as undescriptive as it is, really doesn’t leave much open to interpretation.
The beauty of “meh” is that it expresses itself perfectly. It’s like onomatopoeia, except with emotion instead of sound. And if you truly feel “meh,” it’s probably not worth the effort to say much more than that.
Are there more descriptive, more accurate ways to express all these sentiments? Sure. But you know what? We’re not all professional reviewers. We’re not all critical reviewers. Some of us just like sharing our responses about the books we read.
And sometimes that response is “meh.”
What do you think? Am I being unreasonably defensive? Or do you agree that there’ll always be room for a little “meh”?