The short answer to this question, in my opinion, is yes. However, that does not mean that I believe one should not strive for good writing, that one should be arrogant enough to try and have one good idea compensate for badly written prose. If fact, I consider this one of the greatest tragedies in my personal reading experience, to love a story’s concept, but to have it so poorly executed that I cannot appreciate it.
Nevertheless, the historical and modern examples demonstrate that, if one has a stellar story that captures the imagination, most are prepared to wade through what some may deem less than robust writing. Many mock the writing of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray, but that has done nothing to hinder either franchise’s sales. In the 19th century, Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera was considered just normal, run-of-the-mill, Gothic horror fiction, yet its many adaptions have fashioned the Phantom as a gigantic cultural icon.
It is difficult for me to pass judgment like this because I am a relativist. With the exception of my morality, which I see very much in black and white, I am a relativist when it comes to judging the quality of literature, art, music, and the like. This is a flexible disposition I have acquired by living in the Middle East, learning to abide by cultural norms that vastly differed from my own.
Writing styles can take many forms, with each possessing their own strengths and weaknesses. Whether we consider a specific type of writing style depends entirely on the rubric by which the writing is being judged. Is there a fixed rubric? No, everyone has their own priorities and aspects of writing that they believe to be the most important in a story.
There are very few books in which I found the writing so awful that I could not continue it. And what was torturous for one reader may be tolerable if not enjoyable to another. For example, some people dread trudging through Leo Tolstoy’s work, yet I find his style engaging enough that I’m don’t complain about the length. On the other hand, I tried reaching The Scarlet Letter and I just couldn’t do it. I was bored out of my skull.
No one book is going to please everybody, yet that doesn’t mean writers shouldn’t do their absolute best to create something meaningful for literature, both in story and the physical aspect of prose.