Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Talk: Negative Reviews

It's time for Book Talk, a Confessions of an Avid Reader weekly feature that offers a forum in which to discuss book-related issues and topics.  This week's topic: Negative Reviews.

Given that I wrote a less than glowing review for a book this week, the topic of negative reviews is a timely one.  I believe that reviewers should be honest in assessing a book's merits or lack thereof.   Nevertheless, I have a hard time posting reviews where the majority of what I have to say is negative.  I know some book bloggers chose only to post reviews of books they've enjoyed.    No author wants to be on the receiving end of a negative review, yet as a reader it is lower starred reviews that I find the most useful.  The reason for this is that a well-written 2 or 3 star review that clearly articulates why the reviewer gave the rating he or she did help me to determine whether or not I should read a book, especially those that I'm unfamiliar with.  

How do you feel about negative reviews?  Do you write them?  As a reader, do you find them more useful than positive reviews? 




13 comments:

  1. If I'm disappointed in a book, or find that the book was weak, I have to be honest with my thoughts in my write up. I'd like to think that readers of my blog respect my opinion and that I blog with integrity. However, I do not like some of the drama I have heard that goes on sometimes. Personal attacks on an author are a no-no in my book, and authors should not respond to negative reviews. After all, it is the reader's opinion. If I have something negative to say, I try to at least balance it with something positive about the book -- rarely is a book so bad that it's all negative, at least in my experience. As usual, interesting topic, Melissa!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you about personal attacks on authors. Reviews are meant to convey a reader's thoughts on the book itself, not their thoughts on the person who wrote it. I lose any respect I might have had for reviewers who attack authors. I also agree that authors shouldn't respond to negative reviews, unless perhaps they view the negative review (especially if several reviews have similar critiques) as an impetus to improving their next novel so that the same critiques aren't identified.

      Delete
  2. I do write negative reviews but I never enjoy it. I always try to be respectful to the author and add at least one positive thing to my review. I have a review coming up soon that I have been struggling with. I did not enjoy it at all and am having a hard time finding anything positive to say!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've recently started writing reviews and started to consider this topic. I try to look for positives in a book. If I do not give a high rating, I try to express my reason for not liking a book. I realize that others may enjoy books that I don't.
    Thanks for posting this - Book Talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read a few books I didn't like that most others seem to have loved, and when this happens I like to point out in my review that my opinions don't reflect the views of the majority of readers. Everyone has different tastes and looks for different things from what they read. What works for one person may not work for another.

      Delete
  4. Yes, I definitely think this is a timely topic. There was a little bit of an uproar on Goodreads last week about authors getting negative reviews and being really upset about it. Some of the authors even got together to make a separate site all about bloggers/ reviewers that gave them negative reviews and how the authors saw this as being a bully. It resulted in some of the bloggers getting threats and being personally attacked. Sigh... drama. I believe that honesty is the best policy when it comes to writing a review. If I didn't like a book but I write on my blog that I did like it because I don't want to ruffle any feathers or hurt feelings, I'm doing a disservice to my readers. If I do have to write a negative review (which, by the way, are way more difficult for me to write than glowing reviews), I try to be respectful and diplomatic. I don't attack the author. I try to be constructive. Yeah, what I have to say may still hurt feelings but I just can't lie. What would be the purpose???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's disappointing about what is happening on Goodreads. I wasn't aware of the drama. I agree completely with your point about doing a disservice to your readers if you don't post your honest thoughts. Even though I participate in promotional book tours, my reviews are aimed at my fellow readers who don't have the benefit of having books sent to them for review. Since I buy most of my books I want to know if a book is worth spending my money on - I assume other readers are interested in reviews for the same reason.

      I also agree with you about making sure a negative review is at least a constructive one, that way the author (if they read it) can possibly take note of areas for improvement. Attacks upon authors, however, are big no-no's for me, too.

      Delete
  5. I want honesty when I read reviews. Personally, it's the two and four star reviews that usually cause me to read a particular book. When I see a book that has only glowing, 5 star reviews, I am skeptical. I will write negative reviews but I do my best to be fair and I will not personally attack an author. If possible, I will also post links to other, more positive reviews. However, I am going to say how I feel about a book and why.

    What I really dislike as well is authors who take offense at negative reviews. I realize that every author loves their book, but to expect all readers to love and adore it the same way is incredibly unrealistic. It's not going to happen. I've had authors read my reviews and take umbrage at the fact that I didn't love their book and then send their friends to tell me why I'm wrong. It's so childish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm also very skeptical of novels that receive nothing but glowing reviews and generally stay clear of any book that only gets 5 star reviews.

      I agree completely with your comment about authors who take issue with negative reviews.

      Delete
    2. I must ditto the comment about authors who get upset with negative reviews. The current drama on GoodReads by authors equating bad reviews with bullying makes me insane.

      Delete
  6. Like everyone has said, I too try to make my negative reviews fair. I'm usually able to identify what didn't work for me and acknowledge how subjective opinions can be. But I think it is important to do negative reviews so readers can get a sense of what you like/dislike -- in fact, I have a few folks who read my blog who say if I dislike a book, they know they'll love it, and I think that's huge -- a good negative review will hopefully hit enough elements to help other readers know if it is for them or not.

    I will say, I'm also more conscientious about my negative reviews having started reviewing them with tours -- knowing that the authors are reading them -- than when I first started blogging and felt kind of 'invisible'. In some ways, I miss that space to be brutally honest.

    ReplyDelete