We all come away from a book with different thoughts, images, likes and dislikes. Typically, though, when an author has written his or her story well, most readers will share the same overall understanding of the book, even if not in every detail.
That in mind, it is always amusing when readers write diametrically opposed reviews, particularly on content.
Take Terry Brooks‘ The High Druid’s Blade. One reviewer wrote it was “lightweight…softer…less edgy” compared to the author’s other books. Another found it “gritter and darker.” One thought it “dull,” for another it was full of “passion and excitement.” For one it was “enjoyable,” but “disturbing” for a few others.
Writers should expect such…diversity. Perhaps this is even more true for an author like Brooks who has just released his 27th book in his Shannara mythos. A series that spans decades and crosses generations of readers. Some people started at the beginning, others at the end. Most writers realize that they cannot make everyone like their creation. However, for an author, there are two things that define success. One, being able to write their Story.
Second, having millions of people enter and get lost in that Story.