10 January 2011

My Thoughts: Negative Reviews

Okay, so this isn't going to become a weekly feature I do or anything, but I've decided instead of having posts limited to book reviews and memes I'm going to have a discussion post every once in a while. 

In this post - as you've probably guessed by the title - I'll be posting my thoughts on negative reviews, I would love to hear your thoughts too. So make sure you comment! 

I've seen this topic come up quite a bit over the past couple of months and most recently I saw that Kirsty from The Overflowing Library has decided to make her blog a negative-review-free zone. Which basically means she'll be doing a round up of books that she didn't enjoy, but she will not be posting any negative reviews. 

I've actually seen a lot of blogs doing this style of blogging - I don't mean to call Kirsty out or anything! Her post was just the most recent I've seen - and I've had a think about what would be best for me. 

Okay, so, my thoughts. 

I actually think it's necessary to post negative reviews. Especially if the book is extremely popular! I would honestly be devastated if I bought a book based on it having 100% 5 star reviews, and then hated it because some people out there didn't want to post a negative review based on their feelings of the book (which is totally their choice, by the way).

I do post negative reviews, yes, and I shall continue to do so. I feel it's kind of my duty as a book blogger and reviewer to inform my readers of my take on a book, whether it be negative or positive. 

That said, I try to balance my reviews. I like to say what I enjoyed about the book - however little - and I like to say what I didn't enjoy. I do this for both my positive reviews and my negative ones. Of course, by encouraging negative reviews, I am certainly NOT encouraging "bashing" the author who has worked so long and hard on their book/s. That is definitely not right. And definitely not professional! If you are having those thoughts, then keep them to yourself, please!

I expect negative reviews - like I try to make my own - to be polite, with good balance between the positives and negatives. Of course, if you only liked one character from a book yet detested the rest, it's not exactly going to be balanced, but this one character would still be mentioned by me while reviewing a book - as he or she would be a positive aspect! 

Overall, it all comes down to being honest, polite and professional. 

Anyway, ladies and gents, let me know what you think of this matter in the comments below. Do you like to read/write negative reviews, or do you deem them harsh and unnecessary? I'd love to know :)


  1. I totally agree with you. So far I haven't reviewed anything that I really disliked, but in each I review I always point out what I liked and didn't in what (I hope) is a respectful way. I'd hate to sound rude when the author's worked really hard on their work.

    If a reviewer feels negatively toward a book, sure I'd like to read their thoughts. I want to know what they didn't like and why, but definitely no author bashing or "OMG DONT READ THIS IT SUX". Everyone's got their own opinions, like I do, and I hope my reviews can give readers some insight into whether they'd like to read a book, like I look for in other reviews.

    Bottom line, if I read a bad review, it wouldn't keep me from reading that book. It all comes down to how the reader feels.
    Wow, great post! I'm really going to keep this in mind in the future.

  2. I agree. I find negative reviews to be very important. I don't want to waste time or money reading a book that I didn't know was bad. I also agree that's it's important to be balanced when writing reviews. Honesty is good, unnecessarily cruel reviews are bad.

  3. I totally agree with you! I think that if you disliked a book, you should be honest with your readers. Otherwise you`ll just be lying to them! I actually had an experience where a blogger I really trusted rated a book 5 stars and I went out and bought it and hated it. Then when I brought it up during book club everyone agreed that it was one of the worst they`de ever read!

    So yes, I think negative reviews are a must. But if you feel like you can`t possibly find one nice thing to say about the book, then you shouldn`t bother reviewing it.

  4. I agree with you. I love being able to read all sorts of reviews not just the good ones. I would never write a review that completely bashes the author or book, but insteas like you said point out th reasons why the book wasn't your cup of tea, and what you didn't like personally. Don't just be like I hate it. it was the worst ever. Have some "evidence" if you will to back it up. Be honest with people that's why we started these to show what we feel about the books we read to let others know about the books, and by not showing them the bad we're not doing them any favors really.

    I personally will read whatever sounds interesting to me, even if it has a bad review from other bloggers you may never know you like it unless you try. So I guess all I'm saying is whether it has a bad/good review if its something I want to read I read it. :) Sorry if that's confusing I can be confusing at times.

  5. The more I think about it, the more I realize I don't really look at reviews as positive or negative. They're either helpful or they aren't. Let me see if I can explain...

    When I read a review I'm looking for two things: Information about the book and the reviewer's personal take on it. Both parts are important, and so I'm a little disappointed when reviewers don't write "negative" reviews because I feel like I'm only getting part of what I'm looking for in reviews.

    As far as information goes, usually I want to know a few basics like:

    1. Pacing- Is it fast or slow?
    2. More character-focused or plot-focused?
    3. Does the plot make sense?
    4. How likable are the characters?
    5. What type of romance is it (insta or more realistic)?

    I like it when the reviewer talks about these points and then shares their own opinion. Some people will give a book a low rating because they don't like fast-moving plots, but I love them so I know that won't bother me.

    The review then isn't really "negative" or "positive" it's just informative and then has the blogger's personal opinions mixed in. This way I can get a feel for the book and be able to make my own decision, but I also get a feel for the reviewer and their personal preferences. There are some reviewers I often disagree with, but I value their reviews because they are informative. Other reviewers I know like the same things I do, so if they like or dislike a book I know I'll probably agree.

    This is probably really long, but hopefully it makes at least a little sense!

  6. Oh, I remembered something else! I also like negative reviews because sometimes I'll read a book that is getting a million 5 star reviews but I didn't like it. It's nice to see I'm not alone. :)

  7. I definitely think that by not posting negative reviews, I would be censoring myself. I agree with Small Review that the key is to be informative and honest, but not to be mean or trash the book. We can't like everything we read, but we don't know what everyone else will think of it.

  8. I think the point has to be made is what consistutes a negative review??

    I see a negative review as one that has nothing, however small, to say about the book which is positive. I often find what I’ve seen of those types of review that they are often quite nasty or personal or just unreasonable as well.
    If I have nothing good to say about a book and I’m half way through I simply don’t finish it. I don’t see that it is worth my time finishing something I am not enjoying and then wasting even more time reviewing it. That said out of the 168 books I read last year there were only 7 I did this with. In which case I put a note on goodreads explaining why I didn’t finish it and include them in a round up post of books I didn’t finish periodically.
    What I think some people thought I meant by my post is that I would only post 5 star reviews on my blog – that certainly isn’t the case. Out of everything I read about 10% get a 5 star rating from me and a vast amount get 3 stars. To my mind if I’ve finished a book I’ve liked it enough for at least 2 stars and will review it. I am happy to outline a balanced review in which I outline both what I liked and didn’t like about a book. I think 95% of my reviews are like that.
    Umm maybe I need a follow up post to clarify things next week.

  9. Thanks for all of your replies so far, everyone! I will be replying as soon as I can :D

    Kirsty - I, personally, consider a negative review as giving a book a poor rating (2/2.5 and below) and not recommending the book to others.
    Like you, I don't review books that I don't finish. I never had done, and I don't intend to start now, as I believe that if you leave a book unfinished, it's unfair to give a proper review on it.
    I also think your recent post clarifies what you think of negative reviews and this subject in general pretty well.
    Like I said, I wasn't calling you out, I was using your post as an example/addition to mine. I was merely stating my personal view on the subject, I'm certainly not berating any blogger or reviewer who feels differently to me. It simply comes down to personal preference.

  10. Logan - I completely agree. We all have different tastes and opinions, so even though I personally may not have liked a book, a lot of people out there probably will love it. That's why I try to recommend reading other reviews after mine, to get more of a feel for a book :)

    Small Review - I agree with that basic information. The key is definitely to be as informative and honest as possible when reviewing a book.
    I personally class negative reviews (my own, anyway) as reviews with very low star ratings, and ones that I couldn't recommend to others.
    Oh, and I felt that way about The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Tyger Tyger! They both had quite a lot of high-star reviews when I read them, and I was a little disappointed when I read them and found I didn't enjoy them as much as everyone else. But then I dug a little deeper, and found that there were actually quite a few low-star reviews. They were just a bit outnumbered ;)

  11. Hi! I`ve passed on an award to you - go check it out on my blog! :)

  12. I loved reading this :) Nice discussion :) I awarded you with the Stylish Blogger, so I hope you feel stylish lol. x

  13. I'm definitely not against posting negative reviews and have done so in the past. However I'm unlikely to push myself through a book I'm not enjoying and so it's pretty rare. I think as long as your reviews are balanced and not just a nasty attack, then negative reviews definitely have their place.


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