Scathing Book Reviews of The Odyssey, by Homer

The Odyssey was written by Homer. If you say that to anyone born after 1980, they’ll immediately imagine Homer Simpson in a Toga, or Ulysses fleeing from the Cyclops, tripping and saying “D’oh!”. Now before you dismay over the decline of Western Civilization, remember that from 1900 to 1988, when someone said “Homer”, the average person’s first thought was Baseball.

That said, have I ever actually read “The Odyssey”? Bits and pieces of it in other works, but never the whole thing all the way through, and I’ll wager that most people haven’t. Watching that Armand Assante Odyssey TV Miniseries doesn’t count, folks. These Scathing Book Reviews of The Odyssey try to persuade you that it’s not a trip worth taking:

This book sucks. I dont care if Homer was blind or not this book is like 900 pages too long. I could tell this story in about 10 pages. Homer taking all long to say stupid stuff. Teens if you are reading this all I have to say is CLIFF NOTES CLIFF NOTES you will pass the test, unless you are in AP classes. The teachers expect kids to read cliff notes trust me my moms a teacher. P.S this book SUCKS

…and:

Although it may seem intriguing, this book can drive one to the brink of insanity.

…and:

It was tedious, boring, and extremely conceited.

…and:

I couldn’t even get past the first ten pages with any comprehension of what this was about. I reread lines half a dozen times with no idea of what Fagles [the translator] was talking about. What the heck is “hearth smoke”? What person alive says “that nonsense coming past your teeth”?

…and:

The general plot is rather repetitive. Odysseus overcomes a challenge on an island, and while leaving via boat, a storm takes him to yet another island, where the process is repeated. This makes the story predictable and less interesting.

…and:

I pity all of those souls who have to endure reading this utter rubbish. Every time I attempt to read it, it puts my wee self to sleep. This book is so boring, and I can not fathom how people (even though if they are pretentious secondary school teachers or literature lecturers)can still find this enjoyable.

…and:

If you’re going to read either The Iliad or The Odyssey, and you’re not a 2700 year-old Greek or Trojan, buy a Cliff Notes to help fill you in.

…and this Book Review that faults Homer for a lack of originality:

I feel like I heard this story many times before. Not cutting edge. Lots of interesting characters though. Unreallistic platitudes as they relate to the human condition. Homer has a lot of growing up to do.

…and this great review by a Freshman in High School:

I thought this story was very gross. I mean come on. We are having to read this book in freshman English. Actually our teacher reads it to us, but it is still disgusting. We are also having to watch the movie of this, talk about gruesome. It’s like Scylla comes out of the water and chomps these people out of the ship and blood showers everywhere. I almost threw up every day when we watch this movie. We watch a little each day. I am over there about to puke up my toes and everybody else, all the boys anyway, are saying how cool it is. My boyfriend just laughs when I tell him I almost threw up in there, he is a freshman, so he has to watch it also. I’m sure he thinks it is awesome,but I don’t.

Scathing Book Reviews of War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is probably the most famous book that the fewest have ever read. To rephrase, we’ve all heard of it. Most of us haven’t read it.

Why? Its reputation for complexity and for length (although it’s 2 places behind Atlas Shrugged in the list of longest novels.) I remember, of all things, a Get Smart gag in which an assassin tried to kill Max with a sword, only for Max to block it with a copy of War and Peace. Max’s line? “No one ever gets through War and Peace!” Well to me it was funny… For these reviewers, “War” never seemed to end:

Let me start by acknowledging that Leo Tolstoy is often regarded as one of the preeminent authors of all time. Let me follow that with the acknowledgement that many consider “War and Peace” to be the greatest triumph in human literature… Let me follow that by saying that I don’t get it.

…and:

If you don’t have time to read this book then read the cliff notes and skip to the last 80 pages of the book. They’re all that really matter.

…and:

I always look for myself in a book. As I read the endless but addictive pages of Tolstoy’s classic masterpiece, I found myriads and myriads of characters. I did not find one that was courageous, loving, bashful, angry, shy, ticklish, confused, clear-thinking, beautiful, handsome, tall, big-boned, wonderful, life-of-the-party, interesting, creative, and desirable. These are all qualities that I identify as my own.

…and:

This type of literature is not going to hold an audience anymore. So many people have the opportunity to live interesting lives nowadays why would they stop to read a novel of this length about a bunch of fictional charaters when they could be spending the time actually LIVING their own lives? It was a real drag.

…and:

Tolstoy was such self-important, disrespectful, intolerant, bum!

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I have been struggling to get through it for 20 years (true story… I started reading this dreck in 1984) and I’m just now 1/2 way through. How this long-winded pointless book became known as one of the great novels is beyond me.

…and:

Im 11, thatas probably why i really dont like the book, but my point made is, my mom grounded me and made me read war and peace, and it was the worst punistment i have ever been through, i asked my family to read a page of it, and they all fell asleep, sorry to all the people that liked it

…and this review, in which Bret Easton Ellis is associated with Leo Tolstoy for perhaps the first and last time:

I am sure Bret Easton Ellis would have a field day with the social elite that inhabit War and Peace, for they are the most shallow, self-destructive people of that time… it all boils down to this: If you like watching people swoon over and fight one another while the more important issues , like defending one’s country, are placed as a backdrop for their pathetic lives, than this is the book for you.

Scathing Book Reviews of The Davinci Code, by Dan Brown

The Davinci Code by Dan Brown is one of those books that jumps the literary fence into “pop culture phenomenon”, with the requisite movie adaptation and Cryptex for sale in Skymall. and was for a time, the only thing that people on airplanes seemed to read.

While it’s hard to take The Davinci Code’s premise seriously (and if you do, open up some history books please) to me it was a blasphemously fun read with enough plot twists to be enjoyable while without so many as to be annoying. However, these Book Reviews of The Davinci Code think it isn’t worth cracking open:

I can’t remember when I last read such awful prose. If you can stomache sentences like the following – “Everyone in the reception area gasped in wonderment at the sight of the half-naked albino offering the bleeding clergyman.” – then be my guest.

…and:

You know a book is bad when you can put it down with only 10 pages left.

…and:

Watch out Michael Crichton, you’ve got competition. With “Da Vinci Code,” Dan Brown rivals you for one-dimensional characters, preposterous plot and misogynistic flourishes. However, he does you one better with his crypto-paranoid conspiracy theories centering around the Catholic church and forays into third-rate art criticism.

…and:

I must say I am – what’s the word? Flabbergasted. Forty million copies sold and counting? This book is simply mediocre. The story is formulaic, the characters are cliches, and the prose is workmanlike at best…

…and:

The Da Vinci Code is really two different books pushed together. One of the books is awful and the other is unbelievable.

…and:

O, Draconian Devil, why on earth did I read this book? I also figured out why it’s a page turner–you can’t wait to turn the page to see whether the writing will improve. Really, the whole thing sounds like the Hardy Boys and the Keystone Copts, or Abbott and Costello Meet a Big Dumb Albino.

…and this review, which somehow makes me hungry for Mall food:

when I sat down to read it, I was ready to devour it. And I did. However, rather than the fine feast, the rarified treat, that I’d been promised, I found instead a food court that offered m.s.g. laden Lo Mein, soggy buns wilting beneath ketchupy barbeque:a grotesque, sloppy affair that left me feeling bloated, tricked and saddened

Scathing Book Reviews of Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson was the Pirate Story that dominated pop culture until the emergence of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series. Now, Jack Sparrow is the first name in pirates, while Long John Silver is now relegated to being known more for Deep Fried “Seafood” (defined loosely) rather than “Jim feller me lad” fame. While Treasure Island still makes me want to say “Aaarrrhhh”, these reviewers give it a big “Aaarrhn’t”:

How can this possibly be a classic? Most of the time I had no idea what on earth the characters were saying. It’s all in some kind of pirate-jive lingo.

…and:

The only one I liked was Captin Flint because I like birds but besides that I wouldn’t read it!

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Gag me…this novel is the epitome of boredom. I’m not a huge fan of boredom.

…and:

It is totally on a reading level for way older people. Not 7th graders.

…and:

It is no surprise that “Treasure Island” was written by Stevenson just in a few days as its carelessness and pretty bad style attest.

…and this, from someone who apparently has a Pirate lingo of his own:

AGU! Man The book is Finally over with! That was torcher PLUS the movie was violent causing me to continue screaming and my classmates thinking I was insane! I gotta piece of advice, DONT BUY THE BOOK

ADDED BONUS: Remember that September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Here’s the Talk Like a Pirate translation of Amazon.com book summary:

Ahoy, climb aboard for the swashbucklin’ ad’enture o’ a lifetime. Treasure Island has enthralled (and caused slight seasickness) for decades. The names Long John Sil’er and Jim Hawkins be destined t’ remain pieces o’ folklore for as long as children want t’ read Robert Louis Ste’enson’s most famous scribblins. Shiver me timbers, with tis’ dastardly plot and motley crew o’ rogues and ‘illains, it seems unlikely that children will e’er say no t’ this timeless classic. –C’pn Naomi Gesin’er Aye.