To like, or not to like, that is the question??

Posted On 17 October 2015

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 25 responses

This will be a quick post.  I had one of those thoughts that was going round and round in my mind concerning negative reviews and so I decided to simply ‘air’ it.

I do very few negative reviews on my blog.  Basically, I find the negative reviews more difficult to write and I also find that I have a tendency to become a little bit sarcastic when I’m reviewing something that I haven’t enjoyed.  Frankly, I don’t really want to go down that route but sometimes if I’m reviewing a book I haven’t really enjoyed I can’t help it (and I can just hear my dad saying ‘it’s not big and clever young lady’!)   On top of that it’s unusual for me to finish a book if I’m not enjoying it.  Put simply, there are too many books to read and too little time so the negative reviews are cut down to a minimum because I very rarely force myself to complete a book if I’m not enjoying it.  I do worry though about whether or not this gives the impression that I’m just downright easy to please.

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy reading other negative reviews because sometimes I do – I’m not sure if that’s odd or not but sometimes negative reviews can be interesting, thought provoking or downright funny – not always, but definitely sometimes.

Interestingly enough I find that the negative reviews seem to be the ones that generate the most interest – particularly if they’re about a book that has been really loved by the rest of the book community.  I guess this just shows that we love to discuss books, even when our opinions differ.

At the end of the day, I’m not going to change the way I write my reviews.  I do tend to try and find something positive to say about the books I read but I am curious to know how the rest of you out there handle this aspect.  Do you find the negative reviews the worst to write?  Do you finish the book even if you’re not enjoying it??  Do you write reviews for books you haven’t finished??? And, do you find your more contentious reviews to be the most popular or the ones that generate the most discussion????

Enquiring minds, etc, etc, Let’s talk.


25 Responses to “To like, or not to like, that is the question??”

  1. thecurioussffreader

    I don’t mind writing negative reviews because if I didn’t like the book I usually have good reasons and so, I don’t want people to do the same mistake and to read this particular booK. Because of that, I usually tend to finish books; it is very rare for me to DNF one because I don’t want to write a review of a book I did not finish.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ah, what a good point. I never thought of that. I’m just a selfish so and so and if I’m not enjoying it put it down!
      Lynn 😀

  2. chocolatepages

    I feel the same as you, I find it more difficult to write negative reviews, but like you I won’t finish a book I’m not enjoying. I have written one review of a book I DNF. I feel bad if Authors have given me a book and I don’t review it. I am a lot more picky of the books I choose now than I used to be so mostly I do enjoy the books.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think that’s also what I tend to do. I take a good look at a book before I decide to review – I think that’s probably why I have more success now with good books than in previous years – well, that and reading lots of blogs now where I trust the reviewer’s opinion. Also, like you, I feel guilty if I don’t finish a review book – but I do state clearly on my blog that I won’t review a book I don’t finish. Plus, I’ve seen DNF reviews before that have been really scathing – after having read only 10% – which seems a bit premature to me (unless they were really pitiful of course!).
      Lynn 😀

      • chocolatepages

        I think that might be an idea for my review page , to add in if I don’t finish I won’t review. Luckily it doesn’t happen often, but will make me feel less guilty about it. Thanks. xx

  3. Steph

    Interesting. I’m with you…I quit reading the majority of books I don’t like. If I’ve agreed to review it out received it for a review I work harder at finishing it. I do try to point out what I did and didn’t like fairly if I didn’t like it in the review but you have a very good point. They do spur more conversation than my positive reviews. Hmmmm….

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know – it’s odd isn’t it. I have very few negative reviews but they do tend to be quite popular for some reason!
      Lynn 😀

  4. Cathy746books

    I don’t write too many bad reviews either but they do tend to generate discussion that’s for sure!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha, yes, they do! Especially the books that everyone else loves I always find.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Lynn E. O'Connacht

    I don’t write many (detailed) negative reviews, though in my case that’s as much because I’m an author-reviewer than because I just don’t like being negative. I’ll do it if I can phrase things in a constructive manner, but otherwise it’s liable to be relegated to an end-of-month comment or not get mentioned at all.

    That said, I do try to be fair with the books I review and at least mention that there were things I wasn’t keen on/happy with. I just try to keep my enthusiasm and more positive commentary front and centre and more detailed. ^_^

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s an odd thing because sometimes I may not love a book and then I do a review and try to make it, say, very straightforward, and to not go over the top in terms of praise (so, no glowing or gushing), just keep it straightforward – and then I’ve had comments from people saying ‘oh, glad to see you liked this, I’m definitely going to pick up a copy’ – which then makes me feel like maybe they’ve not really read into what I’ve written and as a consequence makes me think maybe I need to be a bit more blunt. But, I don’t like to be overly negative. I always try to find something positive to say – even if I conclude along the lines that the book wasn’t for me. I do think it’s a difficult balance but I also think that sometimes people want to read what they want to read and so regardless of what you maybe put in a review, unless you say you absolutely hated it (which in my case wouldn’t be possible because I would put such a book down) people will still pick up if that was their original intention.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Carmen

    I tend to stick with the book if I reach 50% whether I like it or not, but if I have something negative to say, I’ll say it. The problem arises when the review was requested by the author and I didn’t like it; then I feel torn between saying what I think and breaking the author’s heart. In that case I keep the negativity to a minimum.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s a difficult balance isn’t it. You want to put your thoughts in there but you’re conscious, I think, of hurting somebody’s feelings. A book, is after all, somebody’s brainchild and they love it. It must be so difficult to see criticism.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    No, don’t change how you write your reviews! I like the way you review just fine 🙂

    I hear what you’re saying though. I’m a big believer of keeping things civil and when I have negative things to say I always keep the critique to the book. But when I don’t like something, sometimes I find it so hard not to get snarky!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think the snarky comments are more likely to creep in when you really didn’t enjoy the book – you can’t help it, underneath everything you have this little niggle of resentment about having wasted so many hours reading it! I’ve read some really scathing reviews though which I thought were pretty mean – I would never go down that route. It’s just not necessary. I like your way of keeping things civil – your reviews are never nasty but you always make it plain if a book wasn’t for you and the reasons why.
      Lynn 😀

  8. bookstogetlostin

    I do write negative reviews but I mostly focus on stating why the book didn’t work for me, so my readers can judge if they would like it. But negative reviews can me tricky because you don’t want to sound hurtful but still stay honest.

    By the way if I book interests me, I search for negative reviews, so I can judge if the things that bother some/a lot of reviewers are things I like. Or not.
    For example if someone states that abuse is romanticized I probably won’t read said book.
    Or if someone criticizes that a book is anti-christianity (is that a word? I think not), I may read it because that doesn’t bother me.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Really good points. Thanks for contributing. I think the not being hurtful thing is the main consideration isn’t it. You can’t help it after all if a book didn’t work for you but I don’t suppose that means you have to rip into a book just to prove it.
      I must admit I do look at negative reviews – partly because of the reasons you said before and also the things that some people find annoying might be things that I really enjoy.
      Lynn 😀

  9. Wendleberry

    I actually love writing the more negative reviews. I find it easier to articulate what i didn’t like about a book, than why i did like a book.

    I also find negative reviews more helpful, when deciding if i want to read a book or not. If the things people didn’t like about the book are things that don’t bother me, i’m more likely to give it a go.

    If you don’t want to write full-on reviews for books you didn’t like or didn’t finish, you could write more snippet-type reviews? Even with a couple of set questions, simply to cover what you did and didn’t like? Just keep it less pressure, but to not forgo a review completely.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha, I think you’re the only person so far who likes to write the negative reviews – it’s so interesting the way we all feel so differently. I do like reading negative reviews oddly enough for much the same reason that you mention.
      I don’t review books I DNF’d because I feel like I should read the full book if I’m going to review it. I quite like the idea of the questions. I might have a think about that, thanks.
      Lynn 😀

  10. Tammy

    I think as long as you keep your negative review about the book and not about the author, negative reviews can be very helpful. I rarely DNF books myself, and if it’s a review book I feel compelled to review it no matter what I thought. But I’ve read some very hairy books that are pretty bad, and that’s when it becomes hard to try to find something nice to say. I was raised to “always say something nice” so I think I do try to find something good in everything. But I don’t want to fool readers into spending their money on bad books either. And sometimes my reasons for disliking a book don’t hold for other readers. I’ve given some 2 star reviews to books that people have chosen in my book review giveaways, so you just never know!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know – we’re all different and one man’s poison is another’s cure. I actually have very few DNFs these days – in fact I don’t think I’ve had any this year – it comes down to great recommendations I suppose, that and actually really looking into a book before picking it.
      Lynn 😀

  11. Rabindranauth

    I actually find negative reviews are slightly easier to write. I tend to notice issues as I go along through the book that tend to stick with me – unless other aspects of the book manage to blow me away, those are usually the facts at the back of my mind when I sit down to write a review.

    I used to have a “Never give up” attitude where it comes to books, but seriously, life’s too damn short and reading time too limited and books too numerous for that. If it’s irritating with nothing going for it, I tend to dump it within 20 – 40 pages. Probably too early, but justifiable compared to the neverending TBR stack I’ve got.

    Depending on how much of the book I read before I decided to abandon it, I will/will not. These days, I just don’t bother to because the time I’d spend bashing a book is time I could be reading something good. Not to mention I’ve honed my selection process to such a thin point that if I read 10 books, 9 of them are stuff I end up really enjoying. Unless it’s a book that friends/people I know are talking about, or one where an opinion was asked of me – in that case I’ll take the time to discuss it to see what conversations arise.

    My negative reviews are definitely bigger draws than positive reviews – especially in the case where a book seems to be universally loved. Case in point, I know one single other person alone who disliked Anthony Ryan’s Tower Lord as much as I did – to date that’s my most popular review. It’s got well over a thousand hits more than my second most popular review.

    At the same time, there’s a culture of intolerance to opposing views that for the most part has become embedded in genre – the more popular a book is, the less tolerant the genre seems to be to people willing to set themselves apart and say that they honestly think a book was average/mediocre/trash. Because of it, I’ve been threatened, accused of attempting blackmail, or more commonly just employing a cheap trick to try and drive views to my “shitty” website. I’ve also seen another reviewer denounced as sexist by a very popular female fantasy writer because she couldn’t accept that her characters weren’t interesting/captivating enough to offset his natural distaste of grimdark – a common complaint among numerous, positive reviews. Needless to say, he had the Righteous Fury of Twitter brought down on him for being so obviously sexist.

    And there’s no question you pay a price for it – I have nowhere near the level of interaction/readership reviewers who started after me have who write strictly good reviews, I’m blocked on Twitter by at least a handful of authors I can name, I’ve developed a reputation on certain forums where my reviews have been shared as stupid/an asshole, (okay, so maybe they’re right about the asshole part), numerous traditional publishers who were pointed in my direction in many cases when they contacted reviewers looking for fresh names pass me over (one publicity agent straight up told a guy who’s been reading my stuff from before blog days that there’s too high a chance I’ll negatively review and generate bad publicity for their new releases).

    I probably derailed a little there towards the end of my mini-post from the point of your post, but yea. Something to think about for readers who’re jumping in the game for the sake of the perceived perks and not because they simply like talking about books.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Woah, thanks for this response.
      Yes, I think we’re all getting a bit more careful about the books we choose which does tend to lead to more positive reviews.
      I can’t believe the trouble you’ve had for posting negative reviews though! That’s shocking. I mean, if you don’t like a book you don’t like it. The negative reviews do tend to spark the most interest. I haven’t got a lot of negative reviews on here but they always generate plenty of debate – good natured though. I’m stunned. Literally. Whatever happened to ‘all publicity is good publicity’! Clearly I’m just very naive or something.
      Yeah, definitely something to think about.
      Lynn 😀

      • Rabindranauth

        Yea, sorry about that! I can’t believe I left a comment longer than the actual post, lol.

        I’ve been contacted by a few other, smaller traditional publishers, so there’s no doubt that any publicity is good publicity indeed. It’s also quite possible that I was passed over for any other number of reasons. The rest of stuff, though . . . food for thought.

        But whatever, I like blogging too much to bother with all that negative tosh. And there’s, like, 2 people who seem to like my blog, so I’m a happy camper 😀

      • @lynnsbooks

        Nah, don’t be sorry – it was a great comment.
        Glad to see you’re enjoying your blog in spite of it all and make that 3 people!
        Lynn 😀

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