Catharsis received a 2nd review on Amazon. Whoo-hoo! Of course, the review’s semi-negative, but I’ll take it either way. The more reviews the merrier (so get out there and review it already—even if you hate it).
On Amazon, I only thanked the reviewer for reviewing rather than engage in a discussion with her about the review. That’s because I’m really legitimately happy she took time out of her life to read my book and form an opinion about it. That’s ridiculously flattering. Getting a review is sort of like getting lucky—even if the ultimate decision is that you were lousy—you still got lucky.
While that’s what a good sport I was on Amazon, here on my blog I’m going to rebut a few of her review points. Maybe that’s hypocritical of me but, hey, it’s my blog.
To me, her claim that Kama’s an “extreme” example of sexism and lacks character because of her frequent, public nudity is undeserved. Yes, nudity is titillating. And yes, titillation is some of the reason I had a beautiful, young, naked lady as one of the main characters. And while Kama shares her name with an Indian goddess of sexuality, kama is far from being a pornographic shell of a character.
She’s neither submissive nor helpless and, in fact, spends not just most but all of the story in much more control and with much more knowledge than Bodhi. She’s his protector and not the other way ’round.
While titillating, Kama doesn’t intentionally use her nudity for sexual enticement or live up to her namesake’s libido. She clearly shows she’s merely comfortable with her body and doesn’t understand the human fixation on nudity as sinful. My hope would be that, as a plot device, Kama’s comfort with nudity and failure to recognize it as socially awkward would work to show the reader that Kama is a type of creature from before the fall of man, when nudity (and sexuality for that matter) wasn’t seen as sinful. Nudity’s also just a common feature of pixies, not invented by me.
Kama is a representation of sex and reproduction for Bodhi–hence her name. But I would very much argue against an interpretation of Kama as a one-dimensional sex object based solely on her lack of clothes. I might even go so far as to argue that she’s a bit of a feminist character in that the first 100 pages of the book lead up to a surprise twist completely subverting the idea that she’s a damsel in distress. (I said I might go that far. I didn’t say I actually was going that far.) But what’re you gonna do? Some people instantly link female nudity with sex.
Pretty much everything else in the review had validity to me. The reviewer did hit on one other topic that more perplexes me than brings me to disagree. This reviewer and another (who didn’t post on Amazon—shame!) expressed dissatisfaction with the ending of Chapter 1 because of Bodhi’s passivity. Both reviewers, as I understood it, seemed to want Bodhi to be much more classically heroic right from the start rather than running for shelter and becoming disillusioned with the world and his faith. I can understand that critique and the desire to see Bodhi rise up right at the beginning, but I think I was drawing more on real life than perhaps a pulp sci-fi book should. In my life, I’ve had days that just went south. I’ve never watched my best friend murdered before my eyes, but I have had days where I saw people die tragically and unexpectedly right in front of me and I have had days where I’ve lost loved ones. Such days lead me to feel a little disconnected from what I’ve known as the real world and leave me floating for hours, days, weeks, months…heck, I’m still floating from some. That’s where Bodhi is at the end of that first chapter. It’s not heroic but, in my experience, it’s real.
So there you go. My review of the review. Like I said, I’m ridiculously honored and happy to have had someone not only take the time to read my book, but to form an opinion about it, too. Any review on Amazon is welcome—negative, positive, or in between. So where are you reviewers? Come get me!