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?
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?
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.