To Review or Not

On occasion, I review movies, books, or TV shows for Media and Islam or Illumemedia, usually things that are related to Islam. On this site, I may occasionally review a random, non-religious book or movie for fun (like the DC animated films).

I realized a while ago that I was generally positive when it came to most of these reviews. Any kind of gripe I had was always minor and I always ended up giving a review close to glowing. I wondered, was I too nice? Would I end up giving everything a positive review?

I needn’t have worried.

I was recently given an advanced copy of a book by a marketing company. This particular company gave me a free book before, which was great, so I loved that they thought of me again to send me another book.

The premise of this particular book is a controversial one: it’s a novelized version of the life of one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Aisha (ra). I was a bit hesitant to read it at first because of the fiction mixed in with the true account of religious figures, but I thought I’d be fair and not just jump to conclusions.

So I read the book. To put it simply, I didn’t like it.

As I prepare to write my review, I wonder if it’s okay to even be negative. I’m the type of person who doesn’t take criticism well so I wonder: who am I to bestow criticism on anyone else?

The first copy of the book I received was an advanced copy without the real cover, just a really simple one that characterized it as an advanced copy. The company just sent me the published version of the book and I lamented the fact that I had another version of a book I didn’t like and my bookshelf was already bursting at the seams. I looked at the published version and read through the quotes from other authors that were printed on the front and back covers. The headlining quote was from Amy Tan and it was then I realized: I have my own opinion and I’ll go ahead and give it. People will like
the book and some people won’t and I happen to fall into the latter group. If you don’t want something to be critiqued don’t put it out there. And if by some crazy chance the author happens to read my review, he can take solace in the fact that other people liked it and what do I know because I’m no Amy Tan.

I just feel a bit bad because this will probably be the last time that this marketing company gives me a free book.

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