Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Discussions (8): Do you write negative reviews?

Before I ever started my blog, I knew that I wanted to be honest on here. I set out to review movies and books with honesty and to turn a sharp critical eye to the things that I love. That also means finding a fair amount of things that I don't love in the process. See, the wonderful and sometimes terrible thing about writing is that it's purely subjective. For a million people that like something, there are going to be at least a few who don't.

But the question was, do I state this here on my blog for EVERYONE to read?

The only answer I could come up with was an honest one and that is absolutely

I never want a friend to hate something and tell me they liked it just to be nice. So why would I do the same thing to my followers? Because that's what we all are, right? We're friends who have a common passion. So I feel I owe it to you all to tell you if I'm not crazy about something.

The problem with negative reviews?

They can really hurt the author and other people who might be wild about these books. The internet makes everything that much smaller. My opinion can be read by so many people. Which is why I try to analysis why I don't like something and EMPHASIZE that it could sincerely just be my tastes. I'm never going to say that the "characters sucked" because it's rude, unprofessional, and as a writer, I know it's also hurtful. I might say something like "While Amber was funny, it was hard for me to have pity for her because she was selfish. Her selfishness caused me not to connect with her and thus it was hard for me to truly care what happened to her". That is telling you why I disliked something without being rude.

I think that the problem with negative reviews is when people don't handle them professionally. Nothing bothers me more than people ranting about how this novel was crap and the writer was terrible for having written it and that anyone who likes it must be stupid. Yeah, that is SO not the way to write a negative review.

I feel like negative reviews can be useful and need to be out there but there is a major difference between doing it to be helpful and doing it to be hurtful.

My last thing is that I've read a lot of posts where people say that most bloggers won't write negative reviews on ARCs they receive. Is this true? Maybe. Is this true for me? No, not at all. I'm never going to lie to you. I give five bunnies only if something blows my mind. I only give 1 bunny if I can't finish or barely finish it. I can understand why people would feel bad about giving a newly released book a bad review that the publisher let them have early but that's part of the risk they take. It has no factor in my enjoyment of a novel.

So as a final thought, I'd like to explain my rating system:

5 bunnies- This is reserved for mind-blowingly good books only. Things that will change the way you look at reading. Things that keep me up at night.

4 bunnies- I loved this book a lot. I read it fast and furiously but I can think of a few things that would have bettered my enjoyment.

3 bunnies- This is my most common rating. It for books that were fun reads but did have some flaws. Generally they are gambles. You might love it or you might not.

2 bunnies- Though I finished the book, there were loads of flaws and you should read at your own risk. I either had a serious problem with the writing, the plot or the characters (most of the time, all three).

1 bunny- I just couldn't finish it or it was a struggle to get through. Plenty of problems.

Got something to say on this subject but want to write your own posts? Well, I think that's awesome! Please let me know if you do a follow up post on this topic by adding your name to the list below and also, just mention this post in yours with a link back to me:
Have a question or topic you'd like to see my tackle? Feel free to suggest some:

Next week's question: Do you judge a book by it's cover?


  1. completely agree with you!!I really dislike when people do this negative reviews to try and hurt the author...although I have to say in my little time writing reviews...usually when I rate a book 1 star I just can't even come up with a review...but that's just me! as you said! we all have different tastes that's why there are ARCS:D you're the first one to talk about this topic so thoughtfully and good! you just deserve a 5 star(from me hehe) rating of this discussion you have!:D

  2. Hi Amber,

    Another great discussion topic this week. I also agree with you. There is no reason not to give your opinion if you didn't enjoy a book as long as you are professional about it and give reasons for your view (as you did in the example you gave).

    I've only been blogging for a couple of months, so most of my reviews have been for books I liked or loved. But even still there will be aspects I don't enjoy in a book and I point them out (hopefully professionally). But I also find that there has seldom been a book I disliked so much that I couldn't find something good in it. I try to be balanced.

    Have a super weekend!

    The Word Fiend

  3. My reviews are ALWAYS honest ;) If I read a book that i just happened to hate or dislike or whatever, I just don't review it! That way it's a win-win situation, I don't have to be the bad cop who rips of some poor bloggers money for giving false advice and they can chose for themselves whether they like the book or not!

    It's admirable for these authors to actually write a books so whether I like it or not it's not up to me to completely put them down, I think I've only written one horrible review on my blog!

  4. I agree, completely. Honest reviews are important. They let me know if a book is worth my time and money.

    Negative reviews aren't necessarily a bad thing, anyway. There have been a good handful of books which I've bought recently because I've seen a mixture of negative and positive reviews surrounding them and just wanted to make my own mind up.

    (I'll write a proper post about this and link up sometime in the week)

  5. Thanks for this post- I always feel mean when I say something negative about a book on my blog, but your post gave me a new perspective!

  6. I agree with you. I've had to write some reviews lately on books that I didn't love and it was difficult. I tried to find the good in them and be diplomatic, but acknowledge that the book was just not for me.

  7. I really dislike writing about a book I didn't enjoy... The only time I'll post a lengthy negative review is when I've AGREED to review it for an author etc... Otherwise I'll usually post something short and sweet bc I feel feel like it's not worth the time!

  8. I do take some time on negative reviews, although they are usually shorter than my reviews for books I actually enjoyed. I feel it is a good thing to point out the negatives and positives about any book sometimes the negatives just outweigh the positives. At the end of the day though it is just one person's opinion because others may love the book that you didn't enjoy.

  9. Great question. Thought provoking in the land of BLOG. I think that bloggers who are also writers are put in a tough position. The publishing world is a small one and if I was a writer I might be afraid to burn a bridge with a negative review. It seems that a lot of YA writers know each other and a new author might not want to piss that circle of people off....good thing I don't have to worry about that aspect of blogging since I'm not a writer.

  10. I completely agree with you too, if you don't like something be honest, but be tactful.
    ARC's aren't a bribe for good reviews, they want honesty in return for letting you read it. As long as the reviews are constructive then they are helpful good or bad.
    Great post and discussion.:D

  11. This is a really good discussion post. I like to write honest reviews for books and I have actually written about two books that I didn't particularly like. Like you, I try to point out what parts I did like and why I didn't like the book.

  12. I definitely agree with you. The only time I have a hard time giving a negative review is for smaller press or self-published authors, when they've sent me the book. It doesn't mean that I'm going to lie about my feelings, because I definitely won't, but I try even more to be considerate with those kind of reviews. But the way you put it, with how you might talk about a character you didn't connect with, that's exactly the way I like to do negative reviews. Or even if I'm more passionate about my dislike for something I'm never going to say "OH GOSH I HATED IT!!" I might say that in a casual discussion with someone, but never in a formal review that I'm putting out there.

  13. I agree. I've read a few books lately that I wasn't overly keen on. It makes matters worse when they are ones you received from the author themselves, asking for a review. I will not pretend to like something I didn't, but I try to make my comments constructive and I try to find something positive to say to keep the review balanced. Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean that other people won't.

  14. I couldn't agree more. Though I'd try to word negative reviews in a constructive way with concrete suggestions of what would have improved the book, I certainly don't shy away from them, even if they were hypothetical ARCs. Or one of my favourite authors *cough David Eddings cough*.

    On the other side of the coin, as a writer I would feel really... disappointed?... if you write me a rave review and I can finally allow myself to think "Wow, you did it" only to find that nope, that was just a suck up. I'd rather have the truth - how else can I improve?

  15. I agree. If I didn't like a book I don't review it. I've reviewed a few books I think are ok and in the review I always include the things I liked and didn't like about the book. All books have at least one positive thing about them!

  16. Great topic, and great conclusions. Absolutely we want to hear if something wasn't good -- and more importantly, WHY. That's what this community is about: discussing stories. NOT promoting books and authors just to be more popular.


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