Hello readers, a really interesting post for you today I think. Critical reviews are really difficult to write; there are so many parts to reading a book. Say you might not enjoy a book for one reason but might really adore it for another – how do you write the review? For me critical reviews are really important and play a vital part in the blogosphere and I’m going to try and put down why they really aren’t such a bad thing.
WE all Enjoy Different Things
Type in ‘book blog’ on google and you will be hit with 34264758482948584 different results each looking at different genres of books; some specialise, some like MLBB don’t – however we all have niche’s that we enjoy. Add in different writing styles, different plot-lines, authors and taste in terms of characters and there’s a lot of difference there to deal with.
I am quite honest about my dislike of fantasy books but will often review them based on the style of writing/character build up/ pace and whether I enjoyed it overall rather than base in on the genre. If you adore fantasy books then my 3/5 could be easily a 5/5; it depends on what we love and what makes us enjoy something. Often I might read and review something I disliked but still recommend it because of something utterly different. We take what we want from reviews based on our own likes and dislikes.
We have our own opinions
Nothing is worse than being part of a book blog tour and realising that the book, well, it’s really not for you but in little over a week you’re going to have write a review and steer the course between being honest and treading on an authors feelings – it is super rubbish.
Saying that when I read reviews I will often look at the critiques and think, ‘I wonder how if I was reading it I would react.’ Weekly I add books to my TBR just to see whether my thoughts add up with that of the reviewer. Goodreads wouldn’t be as big as it is if we didn’t constantly want to rack up our thoughts next to our fellow book worms.
My final thought on this is that well-written reviews, more critical or more positive sell books, either way. Whether it makes a reader think I want to see why you disliked it, or whether your views were justified a review is still a review.
They create conversation
All of these reasons kind of link, but more critical reviews create conversation.I remember for months after The Casual Vacancy came out it was still being discussed. The reviews were terrible and yet, it was talked about over and over; why was it disliked? Why was it so different from the wonder of Harry Potter?
Negative reviews spark debates, and they often create more conversation. I reviewed Fifty Shades and some of the comments were almost reviews in themselves; it lead to deeper discussion of the book as you talk about the parts that worked and those that didn’t.
5*’s doesn’t mean a wonderful book
I don’t know whether I’m the only one but when I see a book with all 5* reviews, it makes me think; where have these reviews come from. In my opinion it is very rare to find a book that has no faults, none whatsoever and yet it’s something I see regularly. I know that some bloggers tend not to review books they dislike but something in that irks me; I want to know what you thought? Why it wasn’t great? Not all books are worth reading, but I kinda want to decide that based on the whole spectrum of reviews rather than just the best ones.
Getting to know you
Finally I find that negative reviews let me get to know a blogger better. I can really see what they like and what they don’t like and then I can decide whether our reading needs align. If I read a review and it picks up on things I find difficult or tend not to like when reading I know that our choices may be a little different and therefore their 5* may be a 3* for me. It’s all about personal choice and negative reviews allow us a little more insight.
I really enjoyed writing this post but as always would love to hear your thoughts. Is there anything you agree with or critically disagree with. Do you read negative reviews and if you’re a blogger how do you go about it? Let me know in le comments book worms.
19 thoughts on “Why negative reviews aren’t always such a bad thing”
I agree 100%. I get suspicious when there are only positive reviews because people are different and like different things.
I also find that quite often, a blogger’s negative reviews are more interesting than their positive reviews. There’s only so many things you can say about an amazing book, but when it didn’t work you can really consider different aspects and every blogger picks up on different things.
Mmmmm definitely! If it’s the same review with different words over and over it can be a little samey especially if the blog sticks to a single genre!
Recently found a new blog and every review for the first 4 pages were 5 stars and it just made me wonder whether they could all be that good.
I write book reviews for a book blog called The Wind Up Books Chronicle, and anytime I review a book I normally am not a big fan of, I discuss as much as possible why; providing reliable arguments and what not. At the same time though, unless if it’s regarding a book I full on could not stand, I also make the effort to point out what I liked about it too.
Also, regarding 5-star reviews, I admit to giving 5-star ratings to books occasionally via Goodreads and that doesn’t mean that the book was flawless. There’s no such thing as a flawless book. It just means that despite any flaws I come across, the overall quality of the book was too good to not give five stars to.
Totally agree I try to give as many good as bad; there’s three books I know I’ve reviewed which are harsher but it’s very rare that I’m purely negative.
I give 5 stars quite often, but they have to really resonate with me – I struggle with stars on my blog because there’s always so many factors that make up my enjoyment of a book!
I thrive on feedback, positive or negative. It allows me to see if a project turned out as I intended it to, and it also provides me with lessons for the future. There is also a bit of pleasure in a solidly written, funny and perceptive takedown of a bad book. However, it is good manners to at least point out why a book is bad and I feel it’s important not to take it personally as far as possible. There have been some incidents of writers reacting personally and appallingly to bad reviews and it always makes me cringe.
I think there’s a way of writing negative reviews which may be a topic I attempt to cover but I agree whenever I write things – very rarely it’s the negative things I listen to, to attempt to improve what I’m doing!
I must admit I agree there is something about a well written bad review but only if it doesn’t hurt the author. Thank you for commenting 🙂
This is amazing, when I write my reviews I akways feel bad about being negative. This helps a lot
Bless you glad it helped! Some negative reviews are unavoidable 😦
I’m going to give my thoughts as an author (as yet unpublished, but hey…I’m getting there). I am expecting to get negative reviews. As you said yourself, no book is perfect, and more to the point, everyone has different tastes, so no one book can please 100% of people. But I think the tone of the review counts a lot too. I’ve read negative reviews told in a respectful and sound manner, and I’ve also read very rude negative reviews. Everyone is allowed to dislike a book, but to rip it to shreds is uncalled for. It doesn’t help the author whereas a constructive negative review shows the writer their potential weaknesses and areas to work on.
Oh definitely 🙂 there is a way of writing a negative review – I have seen terribly horrible reviews and I may have written one that sticks in the mind as being a little overly harsh. I try my best to give an overall review.. Sandwich the bad between good!
I so very rarely give a book a true five star review – they come years apart – and thank heavens as they’re truly exhausting to read sometimes! if you love a book that much and you’re reading it for the first time your heart is pretty exposed.
I don’t write a great deal of negative reviews (although my last was quite negative come to think of it) mainly because I tend to dump books fairly early on if I feel they are not for me. If I get through a significant chunk I’ll give it a partial review.
I don’t think people should ever feel like they can’t tell the truth when reviewing or talking about a book. However I do think that, not so much in regards to the author’s feelings (because I don’t review for publishers, authors etc) it should still be reasonably respectful. There’s nothing wrong with expressing frustration or annoyance but there’s no need to start yelling or losing your rag over it.
Your blog post brings up some very interesting points – and important ones too – book reviews need to be diverse. It is very interesting reading reviews that are different to your own – why did someone love the book you hated or vice versa.
Hi thank you for commenting – love all that you’ve put here!
I hate putting stars on things and I don’t on my blog because I just hate it – there are some books I give 5 stars even if they’re not perfect just because I think everyone should read the book but then that’s not necessarily a five star review! It’s so difficult to decide where to place something.
I try not to write too many critical reviews and can only think of three where I think I was a little too aggressive – one was quite recently. I’m so bad – I normally will always finish a book even if it’s not that great so I do write quite a few critical pieces but then for me it just means my truly fantastic five star reviews feel ten times better! Being good to the author is always 100% important although I still have authors come back to me saying – well you didn’t understand what I was doing, and I think kgjskgjksj that’s the point, it’s honest feedback.
Thank you for your lovely comment it’s nice to feel I’m not alone in all this!
Great post Lizzy and one with lots of different opinions. Every single person reads a book differently and finds different things they like or dislike about it because we are all individuals. So those of us who write reviews will all have different ideas about what gets what star rating, there is no right or wrong about it. If an author puts their work out in the public domain they will get readers who have opinions, that is what they want, READERS.
What is hard as a reviewer is when authors are so attached to their work that they are unable to accept that a reader found something different in their book than they see. Many, many writers want the reviews and accept the feedback, the sad times are those authors who turn on aggressive mode if you dare to find any fault in their work.
Thankfully I have only had a handful who have behaved this way in my years of book reviewing but it isn’t pleasant, they think that shouting louder and threatening us will make us back down and remove our less than positive review. They make themselves look very silly. I have an author whose review is coming out next week, he tried to tell me what rating his book should have, rather than the rating it was given. He refused to accept that we all read things differently and our own rating standards differ. The review will still be posted and he’ll come and shout at me , but I think a reaction like that will put future readers off his work.
On a more positive note I have authors who welcome any feedback as a way to improve their writing, they are the very best authors to review for.
Definitely agree – sending out for a review means just that – what did you think of my book and we give an honest answer. We’re all different we all like different things. When I was doing the shortlisiting for a book event me and the lady I did the short listing with had such differing tastes and it was a lot of fun to read exactly the same things and then go through them all picking out why we did/didn’t like them. I’m trying to join a book club at the moment so I can do more of that!
Mmmm I’ve only had aggresive authors a couple of times- I more likely get authors who never get back to me. I never know if they’ve read the review and it’s one of the reasons my review requests box is shut for the time being – too many reviews and struggling with what I guess I get back – whether it’s an angry comment or a complete blank silence. Goodness, hope the author isn’t too mean towards you – I’ve had that before and it’s just had to be a look we’re different people, we like different things, it’s okay!
On a positive note I love allllll the reviews you post and they’re always wonderfully put together and the blog is fantastic 🙂
I’m answering this as a writer and a reviewer, because I review for Rosie Amber’s team (comment above).
I’ve reviewed nearly 100 books this year (I also review my own reading choices on my book blog), and have only give 20 (or less) 5*. I believe some reviewers (I notice it with chick lit blogs, in partic), give all books 5* unless there is something really wrong with them – as you say, it means nothing. Some writers do that for other writers, too. To me, this makes less of the books you really do love.
When I read a book review (which I often do, before deciding to buy), I want to know why the person liked it and why they didn’t; their 3.5* (too much backstory, not fast paced although very well written) might be my 5* (I love back story and don’t mind a slow book as long as it’s really well written!). Book blogs that only post 4 and 5* are a bit boring, I think; the ones with all 5* might be those who sell reviews to crap writers who have to buy their good ones!!! There are, alas, a few of these. I’ve explored some of them; they don’t actually tell you much about the books, you can tell the review has just been written by looking at the blurbs and other reviews.
As for writers who get aggressive over a less than glowing review – perhaps if they can’t stand to be criticised, they ought to remove their books from sites that give the public the right to do so (Amazon!), and stop submitting them to book blogs!!!
Ah I see, I love all of the reviews that come from Rosie Amber’s team!
I totally agree with you on all of these points – I think that giving everything a five star just brings down the quality of the all books on average and also doesn’t help us know what we will or won’t like! I recently followed a book review site and allllll of the reviews (honestly) were five star going back the last 6 months – the blog was beautiful but I just wasn’t going to get the reviews that I needed to make a decision on what to read!
I’m exactly the same – like I said a 3* fantasy book if written well is likely to be a fantasy lovers 5* because I don’t like fantasy books as a genre type but if I enjoyed it then it’s going to really be a 5*. It all depends on your likes and dislikes and it’s up to the reader of the review to really decide how they will enjoy the book.
Yes, yes and yes to last point – in the last few weeks I’ve had a number of authors arguing with me over the reviews I’ve given and I just think woah if you send over a book to be reviewed, it’s going to be an honest review, I’ve always said that. We’re all different that’s what makes us so special!
I totally agree with you! Awesome post! I rely on feedback to make things better, and if I didn’t have any negative feedback, I could be doing the same things that people don’t like over and over again.
So glad you liked the post – I just felt I’ve reviewed a couple of books more critically but that doesn’t mean I dislike the book it’s just there are things that would make it more enjoyable for me! Also there are so many of us out there we can never please everyone!