Oh yes, I mentioned ‘puppy-farm’ reviews. Maybe only the author can tell, but hopefully people who have actually read the book can tell too. I’ve seen a number of reviews produced by groups of reviewers who may work for a particular blog or reading group and it is, I’m sorry to say, painfully obviously that they didn’t read the book. They skimmed the book, they flicked through it, they got to the end, and then they wrote a review.
Amazon has set up some test questions for people writing reviews and they use these randomly. Sometimes they ask about the pace of the book, how developed the characters were, what the mood was like, and so on. While these might seem like subjective questions, they actually provide Amazon with foundations about a book that they mark the reviews against. Reviews that start to fall outside of the general consensus are deleted. Whether they are a ‘verified purchase’ or not, they are labelled as fake and removed.
So, while these people think they’re doing the author a favour by writing these reviews and pumping up the rating, if you haven’t read the book you will no doubt have a wild guess at these answers and hope for the best. But, also, the author can tell by what you say in your review whether you actually read it. Some authors won’t care, but others will be quietly disappointed and wonder why they bothered buying you a copy or sending you an ARC when the best you could do was flick through and lie. If you don’t have time to honestly read and review a book, as a blog or as an individual, then my view is that you be better off not just faking something and hoping for the best. Blogs shouldn’t be puppy-farming reviews. If you can’t take as many on then you’re expected to then don’t. And authors who want an honest review should be patient and wait until someone can devote the attention to your book that it deserves.