Rewind Wednesday’s #002: Discussion of Whether to Post Negative Reviews or Not?

Posted August 1, 2018 by Susan in 2018 book blog discussion post, host: feed your fiction, host: it starts at midnight, rewind wednesday's, type: discussion post / 20 Comments

Rewind Wednesday's @ Bookish Revelations

Rewind Wednesday’s is a feature where I will be re-posting past reviews of books that I really enjoyed reading or re-posting old discussion posts with updated thoughts on them. If you would like to play along with me, just grab the banner and please share a link back to this page explaining what it is so that other’s can discover it too.

To Post Negative Reviews or Not?

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When I initially posted my thoughts on this discussion topic back in 2011, I had some strong feelings about this and I still do today. So, I thought I would share an updated version of those thoughts with you.

Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with posting negative reviews of books that you’ve read to your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, or any other medium where you have posting rights to upload your reviews as a blogger and an avid reader. I actually feel like it’s partially our duty to do that and to do anything less than that would make us somewhat dishonest in our reviews.

I think that negative reviews are just as important as positive glowing reviews, in the fact that they’re a well informed honest opinion about the book that you’ve just read. To quote a favorite character of mine from a beloved television show, “Tact is just saying what’s not true, I’ll pass.” So, I’d much rather write an honest review stating whether or not I liked the book and list whatever reasons I found the book less than enjoyable and be able to post it in any medium that I’m being allowed to post my reviews.

I tend to get somewhat leery when it comes to reading nothing but glowing positive reviews of book after book after book. It just doesn’t seem quite as sincere or honest to me as it should, if I’m looking through reviews on a site featuring various reviews, another book blog that I’ve surfed across, or anywhere else for that matter, and all I’m seeing is positive three stars and higher ratings for all of the books that have reviews listed for them on there it makes my spide-y senses start to tingle. Then I start to wonder if, a.) who’s writing these reviews, b.) if the person writing these reviews is afraid to actually say what they really think about the book for whatever reason or fear they may have, c.) if the person writing the review just doesn’t understand the concept of constructive criticism or voicing an opinion in general, or d.) if the the author (logged in either anonymously or posing as someone else) is behind all of those glowing positive raving reviews that are being written, and many other things that come to mind.

The whole thing just seems a bit fishy to me. And believe me, it reeks.

This is part of the reason that I’ve hesitated for as long as I did with finally reading the Hunger Games trilogy. Not because I don’t think they were good books (because they definitely lived up to the hype and to this day is one of my all time favorite trilogies), but because I felt as if they had been hyped up so much by everyone else that I just wasn’t so sure that I was going to have the same opinion of them or reaction to them that other avid book readers and bloggers have experienced. So, I would have much rather seen a vast array of reviews varying in their ratings which would have ultimately helped me to sort of determine whether or not I wanted to read them or any other book for that matter.

Then there is a whole other matter when it comes to reading, reviewing, and posting said reviews on the various platforms available to bloggers that I’m not quite so sure I feel comfortable attaching the name of “hate reviewing” to. But, for the sake of this discussion post, that’s the only way that I can describe it and the best explanation of that I can give is that I’ve noticed a few people whom I will not mention in this post on Goodreads that have been pretty consistent with doing this. The most current author that falls prey to this seems to be Cassandra Clare who doesn’t come without a spotted past herself. I’m not going to get into that here in this discussion post, as that’s a whole other ordeal and post in itself. Suffice it to say, that I’ve seen at least three different reviews if not more, for her books where it seems like the person writing them is just completely “hating” on the book for the sole purpose of doing that.

Now, I totally understand sharing your opinion and writing an honest review for a book you’ve read where you lay out what you did or didn’t like about the book and that’s totally you’re given right as the person who’s read and reviewing it. I try to make my reviews as fair and balanced as I can and the last thing that I would want is for anyone to tell me what I could or couldn’t say in them, if it’s how I felt. So, I’m certainly not denying anyone’s right to that. On the other side of the token, it can be done with a little more respect and courtesy for the author as well as yourself being the reader/reviewer/blogger. I just don’t see any point in writing a scathing review for the sake of writing a scathing review and just shredding an author to pieces or tearing a book wide open without at least trying to find something that (at least one thing) that you liked about it. You’re not really there as a reviewer/blogger to talk about how much you despise the author so much that you wish they would die in a fire, that has absolutely nothing to do with the book that you’ve just read and if that’s the only reason you read the book then why waste your time on it?

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I have had my own personal bad experiences in dealing with and connecting with a few author’s that I could name on one hand. One of said authors being Brian James who wrote Life Is But A Dream. I read and reviewed this book way back in November of 2011 and posted it to my blog which was originally being hosted through the Blogger platform and other various social media platforms where you could post your reviews such as Goodreads. I wasn’t “hate reviewing” this book, in fact I actually really enjoyed reading it and I thought they story was beautifully written and had found the characters endearing. I went on to list things I liked about the book and a couple of things that I disliked about it. Well, a couple of days went by and the author contacted me and tried explaining why he wrote a certain character’s actions the way that he did and the tone of it just sort of struck me as if he were trying to get me to change my mind about the way I had initially felt or was almost trying to make me feel like I was wrong for having that type of an opinion. I told him politely that he had written a really good book that I had enjoyed, but that I stood by my initial observations and that I wouldn’t be making any changes to them. From there, the conversation became a bit strained and I just stopped responding to him all together. I feel a bit disheartened to have to say that because of my interactions with him and the way that his tone in his replies and initial contact came off in such a that it was almost as if he as trying to make me feel bad for the things I disliked about his book or for sharing my thoughts on those exact things, that I won’t be reading another one of his books again.

There is a big difference in writing a very well thought out and honest review of a book that you’ve read, that has a balance between the things that you liked about it vs the things that you disliked about it and the explanation of why. When I sit down to write a review of a book, I think about it sort of like this: a.) what did I like about it?, b.) what were some things that I disliked, c.) how am I going to balance this, and d.) would I recommend it to someone else to read? For example, if there are three or four things that I disliked about the book, then I’ll at least try and find two or three things that I liked about it, just to off-set it so that it’s more honest, organic feeling, and has a healthy balance of the good and not-so-great things about it. My point is, when I rate a book anything lower than three stars, I’m not doing it to be mean spirited. I’m actually giving an honest review and chances are there were a few things gone wrong with the book such as plot, pacing, continuity, ect. that I’ve found to be a little hard to overlook and have factored into my giving it two stars instead of three and above. Yes, I’m willing to accept that there are some people out there who probably are being mean spirited when they give reviews for books with two stars, but that doesn’t mean that just because the few did it that everyone else is going to either.

I personally believe that negative reviews are just as important as positive radiant reviews are, in some instances. Now, I say this, in the hopes that they have been written politely and with the proper constructive criticism setting and not just for the sole purpose of blasting the author and/or the book itself, which is something that I do not support. So, by all means, if you don’t like a book you should feel free to write whatever type of review you’re going to write and rate it however you would like it to be rated (whether it’s four stars or two) and you should be able to post it wherever you have the access or medium to post it within reasonable guidelines set-up for said medium.

What do you think about writing/posting/sharing negative reviews vs positive reviews? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

Susan

About Susan

Hi, I'm Suz @ Bookish Revelations. Weclome to my blog!

Here's what you need to know about me. I love to read and I'm obsessed with all things Yorkie, SuperHeroes, and Brittish tele. I'm also a Planner Girl at heart.

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20 responses to “Rewind Wednesday’s #002: Discussion of Whether to Post Negative Reviews or Not?

  1. I’ve had a rant about this in my draft folder for weeks now lol The topic always pops up every few months.

    I like negative reviews – as long as they aren’t personal against the author. I find them more helpful to decide if a book will work for me. I don’t look at a 2-3 star rating and say – oh then I won’t read it. I try to see if those issues are important to me. I might love what they hate.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    • I talked about this almost seven years ago on my blog, back when I first began on the Blogger platform and then I decided that now would be the perfect time to rehash it. I am about like you, I like them, because I feel like if they are written very well and they are fair and balanced, then they are a lot more helpful to the bookish community than just not writing them at all. Sometimes, those are the kinds of reviews that really help me to narrow down whether or not I’ll think about entertaining reading the book, because if their same likes and dislikes fall along the lines of the one’s I might have for another book of the same/similar genre, then yes it’s pertinent information to me and I will use it to help me. I don’t like the idea of trashing a book or an author, just for the sake of it. There’s absolutely no sense in that at all, why read the book or entertain the author’s books if you’re just going to try and nit pick it to death.

      Thank you, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions with me. 🙂

  2. Like Karen above (“I try to see if those issues are important to me. I might love what they hate.”), I find lower-rating reviews helpful – they’re actually the ones I read first when trying to decide if a book is worth my time and money. And I do agree with you that a book that comes with a ton of glowing reviews can’t possibly be THAT good, or appeal to everyone. There is no such thing as a book/movie/TV series that everybody loves. Also, to me, 3 stars still fall to the side of a good rating, so I can’t see what’s the fuss about it.

    That author…well. Let’s just say he doesn’t have a clue about proper author/reviewer etiquette LOL. Sadly, he’s not the only one. Even if someone writes a hate-review, the right thing to do is pretend you haven’t seen it – also because, let’s get real, hate-reviews can be spotted a mile away, and no on would take them seriously. But if someone gives their honest (and polite) thoughts about your book, you don’t have a right to try and explain said book to them. Not to mention, if there’s something that needs explaining, you aren’t a very good author, are you? 🙄 😉

    • Oh no doubt that 3 star ratings still err on the side of good ratings, for sure. No, he really didn’t and it just sort of really rubbed me the wrong way, which is sad because that book was really good aside from the couple of things that I found to be frustrating. If he had never sent me that message, then I would probably still be reading his books today, but because of his bad behavior I just don’t feel comfortable with it and I will never understand why author’s act that way. I mean, they have to know that when you put your work out there, that it is going to fall under some criticism and that they’re going to have to learn how to deal with it in a more healthy and productive way. Absolutely, 100%.

      And I do agree with you about not everyone liking the same movie/book/tv series, it would make this world so boring. It doesn’t matter if there’s 100 episodes or 50 episodes of a show, there’s always going to be that one episode that you just don’t like even if you are the biggest fan of the show itself. It happened with me regarding so many tv shows/books/movies, it’s unreal. And for me, I like the negative reviews (not the hate reviews, because for reasons) but the really honest and raw ones, where you get the sense that the reader is trying to find something to like about the book while being extremely honest about how they felt overall.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and I do apologize that it took me so long to reply back to you, my mom has been in the hospital and things have been really stressful around here.

  3. I have to be honest, if I am not enjoying a book, I DNF. Therefore, most of my book reviews fall between 3 and 5 stars – which garner positive reviews. I will mention negative things, if I am able to pinpoint them and be specific. Otherwise, the stars plus my review convey my level of enjoyment. Hate reviews really bother me. CC and SJM are two, who seem to garner a LOT of hate. I feel the world is a pretty ugly place, and I refuse to contribute any more negativity to it. I have no problem with constructive criticism, and I think you can say something negative without being derogatory, but it seems people love hate reviews, and because they get lots of likes, they will always exist.

    Sam@WLABB recently posted: Discussion: Why I DON'T Reread
    • I’m more comfortable with DNF’ing a book now, than I was a few years ago. I used to try and force myself to read the book (most esp. if it was a review book), because it was stressful for me just thinking about not being able to fulfill my end of the agreement. Now, if I’m just not feeling it, then I’m not going to keep reading it. It’s as simple as that and I will send a very nice email or note, explaining why I DNF’d it and why I’m not going to continue reading it to whomever I need too.

      I completely agree with you, I mean if you have some really good thoughtful constructive criticism to share regarding the book or even the author’s behavior, then that’s one thing. It’s a completely other just to read a book that you know you aren’t going to like because you want to “hate review” a book by an author that you really can’t stand. It is really sad to see the amount of hate reviews that have gone up for CC and SJM. I mean, in a sense, I can understand some people’s reservations with CC because of her spotty past – but, at the same time that shouldn’t garner a hate review just for the sake of one. Why not spend the time and energy reading something that you really like and have good things to say about?

      I like that you are honest about what you read and why you read it, that’s what being a book blogger/reviewer is all about. 🙂

  4. Negative reviews are helpful to me, because what other people like is so often the opposite of what I like. An example of this is with Keeping You a Secret, though it isn’t dominated by negative reviews.

    They also help me build trust. I feel wary when all I see are positive reviews about something. It’s all fine and dandy if a product is that good, but there are cons to everything. I’ve been burned by trusting when everything is 100 percent positive. Aside from reviewing books on occasion, I work with companies, and I feel like a lot of them dislike negative reviews like authors do—although I’ve only heard one one company stalking/doxxing a blogger, so authors may be worse. I think more discussions like this need to be had, with people talking about the benefits of the negative reviews, because it’s not enough for me to say, “Well, some of my readers wouldn’t care about what I found to be cons and would buy it anyway, but the point of listing these things is to help them make wise purchasing decisions.”

    Overall, I think it’s a business practice created by generations long ago who focused heavily on image/appearance/what people think/etc. even in their personal lives. That mindset still exists today, but I think it’s starting to wear off. One of my favorite bloggers published a piece on criticism/negative feedback about the “note behind the note” that I really love and think is super relevant when discussing negative reviews.

    • You said it all in that first sentence right there, I mean I like some of what other’s like, but not all of it. So, this is why I also rely on negative reviews and why I like to make sure that I’m writing fair, honest, and balanced reviews as well.

      Yes, you hit the nail on the head with this. I do feel as if companies and author’s don’t really like negative reviews all that much and I feel like it’s because all they want to see are the positive glowing aspects of whatever product/book they are selling at the moment so that the masses will want to buy them and they can continue to make money off of them. I feel like they’re probably looking at negative reviews as one more customer/client/reader that they have potentially lost. To me, it just doesn’t make sense, because I want to know all of the pro’s and con’s about whatever it is I’m investing in and I want to know what other’s honestly thought about it – whether they liked it or didn’t and if they did, did they have other things they didn’t like about it and vice versa.

      Oh wow, I am definitely going to check that piece that you linked to out, because I’m always up for a good discussion like this. I think that negative reviews, if they are done fairly and are balanced can only help people and I wish that author’s and publisher’s could see that. I’ve been on blog tours where I was supposed to reviewing the book and the person who is hosting the blog tour is saying if your review is rated anything less than 3 stars, please email me and let me know so that we can get you a different promotional post and that just really frustrates me. It’s almost like they’re asking the person reviewing the book not to be honest about what they really thought about it and I just can’t get behind that.

      Thank you, so much for stopping by the blog. I’ll be visiting yours shortly and following. I apologize for taking some time reply back to you, but my mom was in the hospital recently and it’s been really stressful around here.

  5. Hi Suz! I found your blog through the Saturday Situation link up! This is a neat feature… And I totally agree that negative reviews are essential. I actually have an excellent book picker sense and rarely read 1 star reviews… but when I do WOW! Hahaha I’m pretty explosive. Most of my negative reviews are actually 3 star. As a writer myself there are some hyped books that I just don’t enjoy… but I can totally understand why others enjoy them… It’s normally about huge inconsistencies that other readers overlook… which for me equals a 3 star review. It is suspicious though when I only find 4 and 5 star reviews and every review is glowing!

    • Hi Dani, I really apologize for taking a little bit of time to get back to your comment, my mom was in the hospital recently and I was trying to help her out as much possible which made this past week kind of stressful. But, thank you, for stopping by the blog and for also recommending my post on your appreciation one. I’m definitely following you now for sure and I absolutely love your amazing blog, it’s beautiful and it’s totally helped me out. I love the Saturday Situation, where you can share your posts from the past week and other’s can find them. I love that it leads me to awesome new bookish friends like you. 🙂

      Hee, thanks for the compliment on the feature. I wanted a way where I could showcase old revised reviews that I’d written or past discussion posts that I could add new thoughts and opinions to. It just seemed like a fun idea to get the creative juices flowing, so to speak. *g* Yes, I completely agree with you, sometimes there’s way too much hype for some of the books/series, and then other times it’s like “are you really just writing all of these glowing reviews so you’ll look to the author/publisher” or “tell me how you really feel without tearing a book to pieces just because you don’t like the author”.

      I like to think that I have pretty good taste in books myself and I really don’t like writing those 2 star or less reviews, but sometimes if there’s incredibly glaring inconsistencies that I just can’t ignore then I’m going to give my honest opinion, which is really what I’m here to do. Thank you, for stopping by the blog, I’ll definitely be frequenting yours and commenting when I get the chance.

  6. When I’m deciding whether or not I want to read a book, I usually do two things: 1) read the synopsis provided, and 2) read a few negative reviews. Why? Because generally speaking these reviews are not only the most honest, but they are also detailing all of the things that anyone could possibly be bothered by. If none of those things bother me, I’m probably likely to enjoy it (or at least have it be worth my time). Sure, I like reading some positive reviews as well, but they definitely are lower on my list. I appreciate people taking the time to post these!

    • Again, this is another really great point that you bring up about negative reviews, that I definitely agree with. They will actually help me decide whether or not I want to read the book or whether or not it’s work my time to at least give it a try before passing on it. Because, if there are things mentioned in those reviews that are glaringly obvious things I know I wouldn’t like – then it’s a sure bet I probably won’t enjoy the book and why put myself through that?

      Me too and if I have to, I will continue to post fair and balanced negative reviews as well as my DNF’s, because I think that’s important as well.

  7. I love reading reviews – both negative and positive – when deciding if a book is for me, or not, especially when I’m very unsure about a title. I feel like negative reviews are essential – if no one was writing them and there were only positive reviews, there would be little to no reason to check out the reviews in the first place.

    Honestly, I love when someone gets kinda sassy in their negative reviews, and even makes fun of parts of the books, BUT I do expect them to give some well thought out criticism. Also, I definitely draw the line at getting personal and attacking the author in their review – it’s fine to strongly criticize a novel, but commenting on the author is out of line, imo.

    Speaking of being out of line – wow, that author sounds horrid! THIS is why reviews are not for author – I get that it’s hard to see criticism for something they worked on so much, but if they know they cannot take it, then they should avoid reviews at all cost. I feel sorry for anyone who rated this author’s book low, because if he tried to convince you of his opinion when you actually liked the book, I can’t imagine how he would have talked to someone who wrote a one-star-review. Ugh.

    Anyhow, great post!! And I think this is my first time on your blog, and 1) it’s gorgeous, 2) you communicate your thoughts so well, can’t wait to read more posts. 😀

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques recently posted: Our July & August Favorites + News About the Blog
  8. I love reading reviews – both negative and positive – when deciding if a book is for me, or not, especially when I’m very unsure about a title. I feel like negative reviews are essential – if no one was writing them and there were only positive reviews, there would be little to no reason to check out the reviews in the first place.

    Honestly, I love when someone gets kinda sassy in their negative reviews, and even makes fun of parts of the books, BUT I do expect them to give some well thought out criticism. Also, I definitely draw the line at getting personal and attacking the author in their review – it’s fine to strongly criticize a novel, but commenting on the author is out of line, imo.

    Speaking of being out of line – wow, that author sounds horrid! THIS is why reviews are not for author – I get that it’s hard to see criticism for something they worked on so much, but if they know they cannot take it, then they should avoid reviews at all cost. I feel sorry for anyone who rated this author’s book low, because if he tried to convince you of his opinion when you actually liked the book, I can’t imagine how he would have talked to someone who wrote a one-star-review. Ugh.

    Anyhow, great post!! And I think this is my first time on your blog, and 1) it’s gorgeous, 2) you communicate your thoughts so well, can’t wait to read more posts. 😀

  9. I’ve stopped posting negative reviews for my blog, but it’s for a very specific and personal reason—I am currently querying a book and it feels like a conflict of interest to post negative things about my (hopefully someday) peers. Before that, I always posted negative reviews, though, and I’ve never had any issue with anyone else who does so. But, like you, I’m not fond of reviews that are ranty just for the sake of being ranty.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted: August 2018 Wrap-Up & Best of the Bunch

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