It’s Carnegie time again. Time to torture poor innocent children with books of so-called literary merit.

Here’s a less than enthusiastic review from one of my teen-shadowers. Definitive proof that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

“Another year in the Carnegie Medal and once again another Meg Rosoff book. So many people tell me that I’m not seeing the true beauty of Meg Rosoff’s books, but all I can say to them is, ‘You mean corny beauty of course.’ I believe ‘The Bride’s Farewell’ is her first real historical novel, and no offence to Rosoff, but it did absolutely nothing to impress me.

I feel that Pell’s choice to run away was silly because eventually everyone has to grow up and live like adults. Within the first few pages the odds have already overwhelmed Pell. It was stupidly funny to read about Pell running away, so determined, and fail before she’s even started. I mean, didn’t she think it through?

The characters in the book are as plain as an A4 sheet of paper and have about as much charisma as a wet cabbage. You knew hardly anything about Dogman and although many people may find this makes him more mysterious, I found it made him uninteresting and dull.

A short book but a boring and unsatisfying read. I am pretty sure this book isn’t going to win. Sorry. 1/10.”


26 thoughts on “Everyone’s a critic.

  1. jackie morris 8 years ago

    Well, that told you. Maybe we should gather all our bad reviews into a digital pergatory where they can taunt us and poke their tongues out and stab us with their memorable pitchfork phrases. Or have them made into t-shirts that we can wear as writer’s uniforms to remind us of our own frail falability. Or keep them in a dark box in a high tower and never let them see the light of day. Or attach them to the legs of homing ravens and send them off around the world.

  2. Ray P Hewitt 8 years ago

    I refuse point-blank to grow up and live like an adult… But then I am mad 😉

    1. Meg 8 years ago


  3. Sharon Creech 8 years ago

    This brings back memories of my book being shadowed some years ago. One reader said he’d rather brush his teeth with sulphuric acid than re-read my book. (The book went on to receive the Carnegie.) So I’d say you’re in good territory. I just finished BRIDE’S FAREWELL and LOVED it. A beautifully written book. I would rather re-read it a dozen times than brush my teeth with sulphuric acid. 🙂

  4. Meg 8 years ago

    Long live the mad, Ray. And Sharon, I had a guy last year who said he’d rather hammer nails into his eyeballs than read another of my books. I wonder if it was the same as your guy….similar tendencies, or maybe the same book group? Glad you liked it anyway. I’m only really writing for you and Jackie anyway.

    1. Kirsten Baron 8 years ago

      And me! And my daughters! We all love all of your books, but no 1 daughter loves The Bride’s Farewell the most.
      I wouldn’t quite call it a “historical novel” though…

    2. Meg 8 years ago

      And you, Kirsten!

  5. Courtney 8 years ago

    Ah, this brings back memories… I shadowed the Carnegie Awards from 2002 to 2008 while I was at school. Thankfully my own opinions stayed in the four walls of the classroom where reading group was held – I’m always embarrassed about reading things I’ve written or remembering opinions I’ve held in the past! I think I too was a tad hard on the books at times, though I did discover some of my favourite books through the scheme.

    Have to say I enjoyed the books of yours (and Sharon Creech’s – though I know someone who wrote a parody called “Love That Cockroach” after shadowing in 2001!) that I read as part of it, plus coming to see you speak at what must have still been Ottakars bookshop in Lincoln back then.

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Thanks, Courtney, good to know you feel deep and tragic remorse in retrospect! I loved that visit to Lincoln. Never forgot it –got up really early the next morning and prowled around the cathedral and thought I’d slipped back about 500 years in time. It was seriously magical, even without the Harry Potter references…..!

  6. Lauren 8 years ago

    I can’t believe you didn’t use “a short book but a boring and unsatisfying read” as a blurb. My very first review of my first novel called it “disturbing and grotesque,” which I wanted to put on the cover, but my editor disapproved.

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      It is tempting, Lauren! I always say that even if you don’t like my books, at least they’re short. Disturbing and grotesque would definitely make me buy it.

  7. Caroline Coxon 8 years ago

    Gulp! Can I change my mind and not be a writer anymore?

    I looked at the Carnegie site and what I would like to know is, how come my copy of The Bride’s Farewell, ordered from the Brazilian River, didn’t have that most beautiful cover illustration with the horse but a slightly gloopy photograph of a girl looking pensively into the middle distance? Why do they DO that? (Penguin, I mean, not gloopy girls)

    (However, my cover of How I Live Now is BETTER)

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Oh, don’t get me started. I hate the gloopy girls too, and they’re on the way out. It was kind of alunge in the direction of selling my books in a way that made them look just like ‘other books you might like’ but it didn’t work. As someone once said (or maybe it was me?) you can put a number plate on a badger but it doesn’t make it a lorry.

  8. kokorako 8 years ago

    I understand vile book reviews (though still feel any review is an honour even the vicious ones, and esp if they’ve been published), but not sure what Carnegie shadowing is – do you think you could explain? Then again I didn’t know what paparazzi meant until 1984. Nicola

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Shadowing groups are (usually) school groups who read all the books on the Carnegie shortlist and then vote among themselves for a winner. The shortlisted authors travel around and talk to many of the groups. Which is good fun. Until the librarian tells you, “oh, we didn’t think your book should have won.” Which has also happened!

  9. kokorako 8 years ago

    OMG I’m jealous of such shadow critic kids, but now I’ve looked at the shortlist I can say as an official fan of the Bride’s Farewell that if you don’t end up with your covers stickered as total Carnegie winners it’s just not fair, etc.

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Ah, thank you, Nicola. But I’d put money on the guess that this isn’t my year, which is fine with me, as I happen to have a little book up my sleeve for next year….. :o)

  10. Lesley Martin 8 years ago

    Ouch. Teenagers are harsh critics. Can’t help feeling she missed the entire point of the book though. I loved it, for what it’s worth. (but not the stupid paperback cover)

  11. Mari 8 years ago

    Well, at least who ever it was that wrote the review of your book has a decent vocabulary. And although this person may not have liked “The Bride’s Farewell”, they did take the time to read it. So there is a slightly bright side to this negative review. Haha 🙂

  12. Maria 8 years ago

    “You can put a number plate on a badger but it doesn’t make it a lorry”

    I *love* that.

    It’s very good of you to take criticism gracefully in your stride…

  13. MaryWitzl 8 years ago

    What Maria said.

    I always love reading awful reviews of great books. They remind me afresh how subjective the whole business is.

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      A good reminder for us all.

  14. Eliza 8 years ago

    As much carisma as a wet cabbage? As plain as a sheet of A4 paper? Are you sure they got they got the right book Meg?

  15. Amanda 8 years ago

    Glad you can laugh, Meg. I am certain that I too, will never grow up and live in the real world, as I rarely think things through, and will be glad if the fates are even half as kind as they were to Pell. And of course Dicken. What a dog.

  16. Kirsten Baron 8 years ago

    I’ve been pondering the Growing-Up issue, and have decided that Pell is actually very grown up: she seeks independence, takes care of herself, her younger siblings, her animals. She is so grown up that [SPOILER ALERT] she is capable of giving up a brother and a horse that she loves, because she knows that it’s best for them. Doesn’t get much more mature than that.
    Pell does not refuse be an adult, she only refuses to get married – and it could be argued that marriage is a way of not having to grow up completely, but to continue in a form of dependence….

Comments are closed.