I think Elanor Lawrence did a similar post on this, and I was inspired to write another one.
The bottom line is, it all depends on where the reviewer is coming from and what the reviewer was expecting when he or she picked up the book. It also depends on a reviewer's interpretation and what he or she considers "good." I, personally, take humor, fast paced plots, dialogue, and witty narration over character development, world building, and rich description.
Some people have little things that turned them off books. I don't usually let things like that get in the way(Like in The Search for Wondla "futuristic" terminology. "Sneakboots"? "Jackvest"? I wanted to puke.)
Let's use Artemis Fowl and Inkheart as examples
Artemis Fowl- There are a bunch of vitriolic reviews of the book on goodreads that made me cry :((3.something rating, which is still pretty good).Also, the book's style and format were(and still are) very different from the middle grade-younger teen books on the market today.
A lot of people were expecting the next Harry Potter when they picked up Artemis Fowl, and honestly, most of them were disappointed. (Mostly because the two stories and protagonists were eherm, NOTHING alike. 12 year old male main character, in a story involving magic, does not Harry Potter make, people.)
Several people also felt that the main character was too negative in a story aimed at younger teens. Artemis lies, cheats, blows stuff up, etc. to get his way, and I think that's part of the complexity of the story. He does show signs of regret and at the story's climax does show that he's grown during the story.
Honestly, I think one problem is that Artemis Fowl was pretty complex and unique for the age group it was targeted for, and people's expectations were skewed to begin with.Instead of traveling to mysterious lands, Artemis spends most of the novel seated in front of his computer in his study(my kind of protagonist).
So why did I, personally, like it? I'm used to wacky, bizarre stories with a touch of humor(I just finished two years worth of exclusively reading Star Wars books). I was never really one for the "Let's go on this fancy mysterious adventure" stories most books in that audience feature.
A lot of people enjoyed this book. I, personally, didn't. Why?
It all goes back to what I was expecting when I picked up the book. Inkheart had this really awesome premise and synopsis, but I was used to flash-bang-blow-up adventure stories, where protagonists are on the offensive.
What I was expecting(basically):
"Yay! This girl's father can make books come to life by reading out loud! But he's kidnapped by this goat bad guy! So the girl and her random friends go to rescue him. They rescue him, and he gets a stack of books and reads some explosives, weapons, an army, and a bunch of other stuff out of the book. They attack the goat guy and he dies! The End."
I'm not used to stories where there's no action until the very very end. The protagonists spend a whole lot of time creeping around, running away, being imprisoned and randomly visiting random people. Everything was very nicely fleshed out and explained. But the reason I personally didn't like it was: Remember? I will always take a fast paced plot over a fleshed-out one. I'm willing to let some questions go unanswered if it lets the plot move along better. Some people would rather have authors leave nothing out even if it makes the plot crawl like turtles through peanut butter.
So what are your preferences for books? What about books you liked that other people hated(and vice versa)?