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The review written three months (!) before the book was published! Can you beat that? (A review of the review)

Amazing news! A short version of the first one-star review on Amazon had been written three months BEFORE the book was published! Clairvoyance? Does Moptop (aka BeatleBang1964) possess ESP - some sort of telepathy and premonition?

On 23 January the reviewer offered her opinion on the book that would be publish only on 30 April 2008!



"I read All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome (AS) and didn’t like it… A companion book to this one is Dasha’s Journal: A Cat Reflects on Life, Catness & Autism. While I was not overly fond of this one, (catness indeed)! I felt it was better than the first one." [emphasis is mine]

To be honest, I’m really pleased that (at least) the title - Dasha's Journal: A Cat Reflects on Life, Catness and Autism - has been noticed and someone felt that it deserved a review. Thank you. (I mean it.)

After the date of publication (30 April 2008) a longer version of this review appears on Amazon – with the information from the first pages available on line. Unfortunately, the title and a few pages are not enough if you want to tell the reader what the book is about. The result? A review of the book that doesn’t exist and has nothing to do with the title announced on the subject line:


[Updated on 14.06.08: Oops! The review has disappeared from both US and UK Amazon sites. It’s a pity as it’s the most meaningless and misleading review I could get – I believe it must be very difficult to get each and every point wrong! Fortunately, you can still find it on Canadian and German sites:


http://www.amazon.de/Dashas-Journal-Reflects-Catness-Autism/dp/1843105861/028-9967743-4695720?SubscriptionId=1QZMGW0RRJC2PX87HDR2 ]

The clairvoyant reviewer writes:

"I admit that while I did not care for this book, it is ideal for ailurophiles (cat lovers)."

-  If you don’t like cats, why pick up the book with a furry face on the front cover? :o)

"The questionably coined "Catness" in the title irritated me - why not use some form of the word "feline" instead?"

- Why not, indeed! It’s the author’s choice, and the easiest solution is to become an author and choose the words you like. (In fact, the irritation with ‘the questionably coined’ word started in January.)

"The book is written with Dasha the Cat narrating life with a couple and their two children."

-  Yes, that is the information from the publisher’s review, but Dasha’s life with a couple and their children is just an excuse to discuss autism, especially misunderstanding of the condition by NTs; autistic intelligence, sensory perceptual problems and superabilities, challenging behaviours that are misinterpreted by those who lack understanding of these very special people, etc. Did my clairvoyant reviewer miss it?

"While there is no current proof that cats can or do have a place on the autism/Asperger's spectrum, the premise is interesting."

-  But the premise is, cats do NOT have a place on the autism/Asperger’s spectrum! Dasha is absolutely against this notion. However, to see it, one has to read more than the pages provided by ‘Search inside’

"Although I was not overly fond of this book, I did find it vastly preferable to All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome."

-  Why is it vastly preferable to All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome? These two are very different books and look at the same subject from very different perspectives. (By the way, I love All Cats Have AS. Though I disagree with the approach, I love the book  – it’s clever and funny to compare cats and AS.)

"I also think this book was really written for more for cat lovers."

-  Oh, no. It was written for 1) those who are interested in autism, and 2) animal lovers. There are many other animals as well in the book (though they are not in the title)

"In short, I guess you could call it the Tao of Feline Parallels With Autistic Behavior in Humans."

-  Nice guess, but - no, you couldn’t because it’s the opposite! The whole idea is to show that comparison of cats with autistic humans is not correct.

"This book is a good companion to "All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome."

- No, it isn’t. The only thing in common between these two books is the word ‘cat’ in the title. But yet again, one has to read the books to see it.

Dasha’s Journal can be seen as a companion to Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by Grandin and Johnson. But yet again how would the reviewer know? She would have had to read two books. Oh, horror!

The conclusion: to write a review based on the title, and the first pages may give you a (quantitative) credit (‘look, how many books I’ve reviewed!’) but will compromise the quality of your reviews and, as a result, the reviewer's credibility. I can’t take other reviews by the person seriously.

PS: I’m new in the field of book publishing and reviews. I knew from the very beginning that some people would like it, others would hate it, and I did expect all sorts of criticism (there are quite a few controversial issues there), but to get a review for something that doesn’t exist? 

If it is the ‘worst’ that can be said about the book – then I love it! It’s so useless and misleading. Though I did hope it would attract a lot of serious criticism and lead to discussion of many misconceptions of autism that are abound today. Please, please criticize it, give one-star reviews (fair enough - it's part of the process), but make them serious and meaningful.

What I really like about it is the confirmation that one of the characters from the book (MtheD), created to represent a group of people, seems to be spot on. (That is exactly how MtheD would behave!)

But what I don’t like is,

It’s one thing not to like (or be allergic to) cats, but to hate the very idea that people with autism are very intelligent and deserve the right to be taken seriously (this is the main idea of the book) is upsetting.

2 Comment count
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That is unreal!  Talk about

That is unreal!  Talk about a cautionary tale about the use and abuse of Amazon.   

 I am also new to this.  My first book, due for publication in January, is just up on Amazon.  So I've been starting to read about the whole issue of reviews, bogus reviews, self reviews.  Apparently it is ripe for abuse.

 Good luck with your book!


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Don't take it seriously. It's part of the game

Oh, yes. I’ve heard a lot of stories about ‘fixing’ things on Amazon. Concerning reviews (both one- and five-stars) you have to be realistic. I, for one, don’t trust extremes: some books seem to generate only 5-star-reviews, while others – one-star ones. You can say, it’s not about the book, it’s just a game. That’s why, I thought if my book had mixed responses, it would be great.

But in this particular case, it’s different. And it’s not about the book, it’s about the reviewer who, I believe, has problems in real life (personality problems?) and feels fully alive only on-line. I looked at her profile – she posts up to 20 (!) reviews a day! Just to be considered a ‘top reviewer’. It makes her feel good.

Funnily enough, I feel for her. And, besides, her review is priceless – ‘I don’t like cats, that is why the book is not good’. I just love the (il)logic! Who cares that the book about something else? There is this furry face on the front cover, isn’t there? :o) What else can it be about? Or, and the title is not good - the 'wrong words' are irritating.

It’s the best ‘worst’ review I could have hoped for.

Good luck with your book. And don't worry. It's part of the game.