My First 1 Star Review

A little background before I tell you a funny story:

Several months before I released Every Bush Is Burning, my writer-friend Courtney Gibson asked me, “Are you afraid to release something so dear to you, knowing that it will be out there for all the world to critique and criticize?”

I shrugged and said, “Nah, not really.” And honestly, I didn’t think much of it at that time.

Then a few months passed. Release day got closer. And one day it hit me out of nowhere:

I wasn’t just afraid. Part of me was terrified. I suddenly wanted to crawl up into the fetal position.

Really what did it was the realization that no matter what I did, some people were going to hate it. No matter my intentions, my reasons for doing certain things, or anything else. Some people would refuse to give it a chance, or even if they did, they still might absolutely despise it for a number of reasons.

And, well, confession: I struggle with approval idolatry. I want people to like me. No, not people–I want everyone to like me (which is a bit like chasing the wind). So what does it mean about me if some people disdain something that so much of me is in? If they think something I poured years of my life into is inconsequential, useless, nothing?

I’ve heard other writers say that no matter how many good things people might say about a book they wrote, their eyes were always drawn to the worst reviews, to the 1 stars. That for some reason they seemed to hold more weight than all the others.

So the other day when I checked my Amazon page, my eye indeed was drawn to one of the new reviews that had a glaring 1 star. I held my breath.

Even worse, I saw that the title of the review was, none other than: “Unbiblical”.

Gasp! As a pastor who cares deeply about the gospel and Scripture, that’s not a title I love to be associated with my name.

But then I read the review, which said:

I read more than half of this book on my Kindle and then deleted it. The Jesus of this book is anything but Biblical. I should have deleted it when so called Jesus gave someone the finger. But I kept reading. The last straw was when the main character confronts Jesus about where he was during all the tragic times in his life. Jesus responds that he wasn’t there and apologizes for it. Non-christians and Christians who are weak in their Biblical knowledge are in the most danger by reading this book. While this book isn’t as dangerous a book as some others, such as “The Shack,” it should be avoided. If anyone is interested in reading similar themed books, but which are far more Biblical, I suggest reading “The Perfect Stranger” books and/or watch the movies and TV episodes.


For a number of reasons. (And if you’ve read the book, you know why it’s funny.)

And honestly, I was really thankful. God gave me a really easy first 1 star review and I’m grateful for the easy breaking in for others that may not be as funny. I smiled and said to myself, “Well, there’s no way around that one. Wish he would have read the rest of the book.”

Then I showed it to Kristi and it was SO FUNNY. She goes into defensive wife mode anytime someone criticizes me and it’s just hilarious. Nice-and-sweet Kristi turns into a different person. But then I told her to relax, that sometimes controversy about stuff like that is the best thing that can happen to a book.

But above all, I’m reminded of how good it is that all of my worth and approval is found in Jesus and not in good (or bad) reviews. If I forget that, the only two options are pride and despair. And both of those suck.



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  • Jessica Thomas

    I agree, this is funny.  They really should have read to the end.  I raised my eyebrows at a couple points but I trusted you were going somewhere with it.

    • Brandon Clements

      I appreciate your trust Jessica!

  • Joan

    Brandon,  I’ve been following your book because it is very similar to mine, Broken Pottery.  Mine was also free the same weekend yours was and I downloaded yours and read it right away.  I don’t know if you have gone back and noticed the comment I left to your one star reviewer but if you haven’t, I’d love to know what you think about what I wrote.  I think it fits entirely with the theme of your (and my) books!  JKS

    • Brandon Clements

      Joan, I did see your comment, thanks so much for that! I totally agree with what you said. I really appreciate you reading and commenting. I hope your book does well!

  • Sonia

    I like your optimism. And look at it this way 50 shades of Grey has over 3,000 one star review and it’s still the top selling book. I would however like to know how E.L James deals with bad reviews, tough woman. Good luck with your book.

    • Brandon Clements

      Very true Sonia. Thanks so much, I really appreciate it!

  • Robin

    I gotta tell ya, I was in the middle of your book when I went back to amazon and read the reviews.  I wanted to see what others thought of this crazy book.  I too, read the 1 star review and the comments.  That’s when I knew I HAD to read the rest.  And man, am I glad I did!  Great book!  Thanks for sharing your story with us! 

    • Brandon Clements

      Haha, nice. Appreciate you reading all the way through Robin! Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Terri

    Why would anyone leave a review of a book they didn’t even finish?  That’s a bit like saying they don’t like a gift before they even take the wrapping off!  Oh well, his/her loss.  I read that review before I downloaded the book and I have to say it was one reason I went ahead and downloaded it.  It seemed to me, after reading all the 5 stars, that if the only 1 star was by someone who didn’t even read it, it had to be good!!!!  And it is a book that I will never forget and I will read over and over.  Thank you!

    • Brandon Clements

      Well I’m glad it helped sway you Terri! Appreciate the encouragement. Thanks for stopping by the blog, hope to see you around here more often!

  • John Williams

    This article is really worth reading, it has too much details in it and yet it is so simple to understand, & yea Thanks for sharing the picture it made your post really good and it has great detail in it, i really appreciate your true artistic work!

    High School Diploma

  • Lynelle Seward Swonger

    I loved this book. Such a fresh perspective and unlike any inspirational book I have ever read. It really left me thinking.

    • Brandon Clements

      Thanks so much Lynelle! So glad that it made you think, that was my desire for the book. Appreciate you reading.

      If you want, I’d love for you to leave a short Amazon review. Those are always helpful!

      Thanks again.

  • Shelley

    I laughed too…. but then started feeling sorry for the person. What a perfect example of missing out on God’s full intentions because we give up and walk away. The word I keep hearing in my heart lately is perseverance. It’s a good word even when it comes to reading a book 🙂

    • Brandon Clements

      True. Thanks Shelley.

  • Ray

    What a great message. I just gave it a five star (kindle). If Christians miss the wonderful message of this book, I feel they just might be wearing their skivvies too tight.

    • Brandon Clements

      Haha. Thanks so much Ray:) I appreciate the review!

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  • Ron

    As my niece Sara says, “One person’s yum is another person’s
    yuck”! What the reviewer found “dangerous”
    was exactly what I liked about the Jesus in the book, someone I could relate
    to. When I get the 2 AM phone call
    I want to be able to talk to The Big Guy openly and without fear of

    • Brandon Clements

      Totally understand that Ron. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  • Tracy Patrick

    Thank you for this book, it was well worth the read and goodness it begged to be finished!

    • Brandon Clements

      Thanks so much Tracy, so encouraging to hear!