Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Bad Are Negative Reviews?

I know of a lot of bloggers who don't write negative reviews - either because they think it's rude or because they just don't care to review the books they didn't like. And that's fine, but it's not what I do and today I wanted to talk about that because I really hope that nobody finds my negative reviews rude or insulting.

I review every YA or MG book I read. If I finish the book, I write a review, and oftentimes this means writing a less-than-stellar review. Sometimes it means being negative. Sometimes it means really negative. There are some books I just don't like. Some that have flaws that I can't get past or that I wish someone had told me about before picking the book up.

A lot of times I'm that rare minority in the blogging world. The one who doesn't love a book everyone else is gaga over. And sometimes this is just me, just the fact that the book hit me wrong or didn't interest me for whatever reason. Other times though (and most of the time) I genuinely see flaws in the book. Ones that others either haven't noticed or didn't think important enough to point out. But I mention these things - the too-slow pace, the unrealistic relationships, the character I just couldn't stand. I never try to do it in a mean way and though anything you've written is intensely personal to you, I never mean for a negative review to be an attack on the author. It's about the book. I could love the next book an author writes, or the previous book, and still not like the one I reviewed.

One of my biggest policies on the blog and in my reviews is honesty. Even if everyone else in the world likes a certain book, there's still a reason I didn't. And maybe (probably) there's another reader out there with similar tastes, who will appreciate a different viewpoint. I'm fairly in-depth in my reviews and while this is partly because I don't want to leave anything out, it's also because my feelings and opinions on most books are fairly complicated. I'll like some parts of a book and be bored by others, or I'll be surprised or disappointed by something in the book and I want to talk about that, to share it with others. Sometimes this means giving a negative review.

So what do you guys think? Negative reviews: yay or nay? My reviews: yay or nay?

Also, I have more thoughts on reviews (and my system in particular) that will be up within the week. Stay tuned!

Edit: But really, Adele of Persnickety Snark says it better than I ever could.


  1. You know what, Jordyn? You keep up with those honest (and sometimes negative) review. Know why? Because you are a CONSUMER. If you took the time to read the book, you have a right to express your opinion! What I want to know is, why is it that it's totally acceptable to be just downright nasty about some movies ("gaahh that thing sucked!" "What a waste of my time!" "That actress has a face that only a mother could love!") or music (my roommate said on facebook the other day: "Gah Taylor Swift sings like a cow who's udders are being squeezed too hard") but for books, it's this big, horrible thing to be negative? Why are books so much loftier and undeserving of some necessary smack? Lol, as you can tell, I'm in your corner. Some of my best friends on goodreads can get downright nasty in their reviews (and occasionally, they'll direct that nastiness to the author) and yet their reviews are some of the ones that matter the most to me. I just like honesty. You're an honest person. Huzzah.
    You're also nicer than me, because sometimes...guess what? Bad books = "bad" authors. Not all the time. That's not a life sentence or anything. But there have been a few darling little writers that I'd like to smack up side the head and say "what is WRONG with you?!" Lol, now I'm ranting. Another great post! Please keep up with your honest reviews. :D

  2. I appreciate your honest reviews. I know I've posted my fair share of negative reviews, too. And I don't feel bad about it, and I don't think you or any other blogger should either. We're entitled to our opinions.

    Plus, I love comparing positive and negative reviews for a book because it offers me, as a potential reader, more insight to the book.

    So that's a yay for me.

  3. One of the things I love/want bloggers to do is be honest. If I'm reading a review of a book I haven't heard about before, I want the reviewer to be totally honest with me. What did you like? What didn't you like? Were there any flaws whatsoever? When I find books that are so over-hyped and have 5 star ratings all around, I get wary, because more often than not, I will be let down. I want to read some negative reviews, as well, so I can be more positive of my purchase. I don't want to read reviews that are all sunshine and rainbows if that's the way reviewers didn't feel about it. The thing with book bloggers, though, is that a lot of them feel the need to be nice to an author or publisher because they took the time to send them that book, or that the author is such a sweetheart, or for whatever other reason. And I'll admit that I've thought about upping a few of my reviews because I didn't want to go against the crowd of people who loved a book I didn't love, but I didn't. In author/publisher requests, I will often state now what I started in my review policy: just because I accept a book, I cannot guarantee a positive review. It will be honest, but it will be fair.

    I honestly don't get why people get crazy or mad when others write negative reviews of a book. I mean, sure, writing is hard and getting published is even more difficult. But we have a right to express our honest opinions, so as to not mislead our readers. I'm with you - I will write brutally honest reviews because that's what I'd want for people to do with the reviews I'm reading. I won't attack an author, necessarily, because that goes beyond critiquing work or stating personal opinions on plot, pacing, etc, but I will criticize (sometimes harshly) an authors work on things that I think NEED criticizing. Even with books I rate four/five stars, I'll at least include a few things I didn't like about the book. It helps the author overall, because as writers, we continually improve based on feedback. We've had critique groups in English classes (I know I have), and some of them are downright harsh. But I've become a better writer (well, from before at least - you don't want to see how I used to write, haha!) because of it.

    Please, please keep up your very honest reviews. I regard them more highly than fluffy rainbow happiness reviews.

  4. Amelia I agree with you for the most part but I also feel like though I have my right to express my VERY HONEST opinion, I also have a responsibility to not do it in a nasty way. I sometimes do read nasty negative reviews, but more for a chuckle than anything else because I think they usually (not always, but usually) show a lack of respect for the work and are all emotion with little to no objectivity.

    To be honest I think the rules of etiquette (or at least my own personal rules) are different someplace like Facebook or even Goodreads than on a blog, where I think there is (or should be) more of an obligation to be... civil.

    Alissa I also like to compare good/bad reviews of a book. It's interesting to see people's different takes, especially if I'm considering reading the book myself.

    Kristina Barnes I do think there are some bloggers who feel more of an obligation to be "nice" to a book because they know the author and know how much work was put into writing the book. I actually came up against this problem with a book I read recently, but being anything less than 100% honest about my feelings make me uncomfortable. I hope that people who read my reviews regularly are wanting honest & fairly objective thoughts on a book (as objective as a review can be, at least).

  5. Negative reviews: YAY
    Your reviews: DOUBLE YAY

  6. I will write negative reviews. I do try to balance it by pointing out whatever redeeming qualities it might have. Sometimes there aren't any though!

  7. :) Lovely entry about this topic. I'm glad I'm not alone in believing that honesty should be present in book reviews.