Writing Bad Reviews

I follow a YA blogger named Tirzah at The Compulsive Blogger who announced a while back that she will only be reviewing books that she loves. She simply doesn’t have the time or interest to read and review everything.

I suppose this is an eventual problem for every book blogger: the never ending reading list, the towering pile of books, the endless recommendations.

I’d like to tell you that every book I touch turns to gold and I can’t put it down. But the fact is some of them are really, really bad.

And then comes the dilemma – do you write a bad review?

As a book blogger, you feel that you should warn readers that the book will suck so they can be spared the same kind of disappointment. But you don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings (struggling writers need to eat too) or hurt your relationship with the publisher (who may have given you the book for free) so you water down your bad review. You tell people that it just wasn’t for you but they might like it (if they’ve never read anything better).

Another option is to not review the book. Why waste time on a book that you didn’t like? You give the book no attention and no one gets hurt. I do this for a lot of books that I have great difficulty getting through. If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.

The last option is to write a really, really scathing review. After all, I’m simply a little book blogger – it’s not like I have to power to make or break careers. Authors can consider it constructive criticism, if they even see it, and readers can consider themselves warned.

I guess I usually resort to not writing the review – because I’m running out of original ways to water down a review and scathing reviews seem to get less hits. I mean, why write them if people don’t want to read them?

What are your thoughts? Do you want to see bad reviews?

Photo credits: salon.comnedhardy.comsadanduseless.com

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16 thoughts on “Writing Bad Reviews

  1. Honestly, I would read a bad review, but conclude that the reviewer was either a negative person or had an axe to grind. I know that sounds unfair, but it’s how my brain works. I guess it boils down to whether I follow the reviewer and see both positive and negative reviews or whether I’ve just stumbled on their negative review. Perhaps a negative review from someone who usually sees the up-side would have weight and merit. Not sure this helps, but enjoyed your post! Thought-provoking for sure!

    • Hi Sarah! I totally get what you mean – I get turned off of negative reviews where there’s tons of nitpicking. The absolute worst is when reviewers make personal attacks on authors. I’ve seen things get pretty ugly and I don’t think many people enjoy reading those reviews – or maybe just a certain kind of person. Balance is key. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. It’s a tricky one. Obviously it’s important to be honest – I’ve been asked to read a book before, but given a pretty heavy hint that I should only post a five star review! It really wasn’t worth that, which made me uncomfortable, so I just haven’t posted one at all.
    At the same time, as a writer, I am torn between the need for reviews; the real stabbing pain of a bad or even indifferent review (I know, I need to grow a thicker skin! Working on it); and the genuine feedback that a review can give. Maybe it’s best to send the reccommendations of a bad review directly to the author, and see if they are OK for you to put it out there? After all, once it’s posted, it’s in the ether forever.

    • I have been approached by lesser known authors to read and review books. And I’ve sent them a less than stellar review and asked them if they’re okay with posting. I felt with one particular author that they were looking for genuine feedback and I didn’t want to disappoint in that respect. In all honesty, I am always honoured that anyone cares about my opinion of a book. I just like reading and blogging 🙂

    • Hi Paul! I never looked at it that way – bad reviews do serve to legitimize the reviewer. Sometimes I see product review sites where everything is called “FANTASTIC!!!!” and I wonder if that person knows anything about what they’re writing about.

  3. Recently read a review (of a CD in fact, but it maybe applicable to an appalling book): “Barrel scraping at it’s lowest… Customers who bought this also bought: a noose; a last cigarette”.

  4. Pingback: Ontario Book Bloggers Meet-Up Authors & Swag | Broken Penguins

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