Random Thoughts of a Book Blogger: The Negative Review

Posted June 12, 2015 by Francesca in Random Thoughts, Under the Covers / 28 Comments

randomthoughts

The “Negative” Review

We’ve been blogging now for over 4 years. In that time we’ve seen a lot of bloggers come and go and have talked to and become friends with quite a few of them as well. And every time the discussion turns to reviews there’s always a common answer among them. “If I can’t give a book at least 3 stars, I won’t post the review.”

In general, that’s not our stance on reviewing and  we have always posted reviews with less than 3 stars on the blog. The key (we think) is always to try and be as respectful as possible while stating what didn’t work for us. Because, hey guess what? Maybe that is something that would bother someone else, or something that is exactly what another loves. People have different opinions.  Or maybe it makes the book intriguing enough that they have to see the trainwreck for themselves.

As readers ourselves, there’s nothing worst than being on the fence about buying a book and reading through the reviews, and finding only good ones. I immediately distrust that. In the past few months, I’ve read several books that didn’t work for me (as have some of my UTC girls). And we’ve also posted those reviews. Was it a bad few months for me? Yes! I don’t want to pick up a book and not enjoy it. Have I gotten backlash in the past (not now) for posting such reviews? Yes! Because, as I was told once, “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Reviewers have become scared of posting reviews that aren’t positive because they don’t want to deal with the backlash, the ganging up of street teams, having an author dislike them and not give them other ARCs. The list is endless and it makes me sad.

That’s not the choice we make here at UTC. The point of reviewing books is telling your readers what you think of the book. Not just praising it (or the author). I’ve been in that position where I read a book by an author I LOVE and have had to write a review that is less than 3 stars. Believe me is not easy or pleasant. But you know what, it gives us a good feeling as well because what we put out is always something we can stand behind. And more so when others have contacted me and told me that’s exactly how they felt as well.

I think we all develop a good sense for what books to invest time and money into the more we read. The blurb, or the author, or certain reviewers are key in knowing what books we will enjoy and which to stay away from. But let’s face it. In the past few years, since we started blogging, the book market has become over-saturated with books. There is no way for readers to get to read everything they think sounds good in their lifetime! So now, more than ever, I feel the need to be completely honest with when we review a book.  And we hope that’s still something that’s appreciated by our readers.  If we can help steer you into buying a book you’ll enjoy, then our job here is done!

As a reader, how do you feel about negative reviews?

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Francesca

Blogger/Reviewer at Under the Covers Book Blog
I’m a 30 something sun lover living in the Big Apple (read New York).I’m a book and coffee addict and lover of all things elephants.

I get easily distracted by pictures of sexy guys and have tons of book boyfriends.I keep all my alpha males chained to my basement and guard them fiercely.*Back off bitches*I like to see Jason Momoa as a lot of those boyfriends, because ….. mmmmmmm JASON.MOMOA!

I’m a part time graphic designer (yes, everything you see on UTC has been done by me), run my husband's business from home and on a good day I’m a self appointed superwoman (she who can do it all).I love blogging with my girls and I couldn’t do it any other way!My first love is everything paranormal, but in the past few years I’ve re-learned to love contemporary romance.Every once in a while I like to mix things up with a historical romance, a steampunk or an LGBT book.Because I need variety to avoid book slumps.I don’t always need an HEA although I prefer one, and I love authors that can rip my heart out and make me ugly cry.
Francesca
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Timitra
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Timitra

I like negative reviews because they let me know for the most part whether I’ll love or hate a book

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

I feel the same way. 🙂

Sophia Rose
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Sophia Rose

I’m all for them and have written them, but as you say respect has to be mingled into those book thoughts. I try to give the reader a solid look at the insides of a book with both pros and cons. Sometimes there are more cons, but mostly there are more pros. I really try not pick up books that I don’t think will do it for me and if I can, I try to wait until I’m in the best mood to read a book. I’ve always thought that your reviews here have been respectful, honest and engaging.

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

Thanks Sophia Rose! <3

Lucy
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Lucy

As a reviewer, I feel it is important to share negative reviews for the same reasons you share rave reviews. To let others know about a book and which ones are worth spending their time and money on. I never attack an author except to maybe state that their writing style wasn’t for me. It’s never personal. As a reader, most times if I am searching for information on a book that has 100 glowing 5 star reviews, I head directly to the negative reviews to see what about the story stood out to the negative reviewer. Sometimes, I agree… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

I tend to do that as well. And the key is like you said not making it personal.

Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict
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Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict

As a reader, I appreciate negative reviews. Especially ones that make very clear the things that did not work for them. That makes it easier to decide if you will be able to get past that thing to enjoy the story or if it is a deal breaker. After awhile, you know what bloggers have the same taste as you and you trust them, making decisions even easier!

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Exactly! There are some people I know I always need to do the opposite. And I love following those people. They liked it? I’ll hate it. They hated it? I’ll love it.

Jonetta (Ejaygirl)
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Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

I believe negative reviews have just as much value and raves, as long as they’re limited to what didn’t work for the reader. There’s nothing less useful for me than a review that glibly tears down a book. Yes, it may be cleverly written, but I can’t get beyond the fact that there was a human being who put their heart and soul into that book and those words hurt unnecessarily. As you mention, I love reading those negative reviews where the writers take the time to clearly outline what didn’t work for them. I’ve often decided to read the… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

I don’t like those either! Over the top humor in a negative review just has no place. I’m glad that the gif reviews have also slowly disappeared. Like you said, that’s someone’s work and I always try and think how do I say what I feel in a way that’s both respectful but gets my point across. In the end, I do think that no matter how nice you can be it’s hurtful for an author to read a less than stellar review.

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

if a negative review is written honestly and with respect then it’s a good review and i can support that whether or not i agree

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

I love that. Because we all do have different opinions and I don’t feel like mine is the right one.

Jenn
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Jenn

I agree with this completely. When I sit around talking books with friends I don’t tell them only the good books, I tell them about the books that didn’t work for me too. I was attacked for talking about books that I DNFed even though I did it constructively but instead of letting them get to me and stop sharing about all book I read, both loved and unloved, it strengthened my desire to be honest. I reminded myself what a very wonderful author told me, that reviews are not for authors, they are for the readers. As a reader… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

That’s the most important thing. Stand by the decisions you make with your blog and don’t let anyone make you change them. And especially don’t engage when you are attacked. That usually makes the drama die down. I struggle with posting DNF reviews because I often don’t feel I have enough information to make a full report on my feelings. More often than not I won’t post DNF reviews, except we have done some visit to the DNF files here once or twice. That being said, I don’t DNF a lot. That OCD that makes me want to write a… Read more »

Denise
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Denise

as long as they’re truly constructive and not bashing or abusive, I don’t mind reading them–they can give a good idea for another point of view.

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

Agreed!

Zita R
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Zita R

I like this article and the reason I follow UTC is because you DO post negative reviews. Honesty in the reviews is what I look for and sometimes I will still read the book. Not every book is for every reader but I do like to be informed.

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Thank you!!!

Monique D
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Monique D

Brilliant post! I totally agree with you and I admire your honesty. Negative reviews, respectfully written and stating clearly what didn’t work for the reviewer are invaluable. Thank you!

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Thanks Monique!

Angela @ Angel's Guilty Pleasures
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Angela @ Angel's Guilty Pleasures

Excellent post. I was hasten when I first started blogging about putting up my bad or DNF reviews. I did not want to get the backlash; which seams to be the norm these days, but I came to the conclusion that wither the review is good and bad, both are need to make an informed decision on what to read. I have come to like and appreciate both sides of a review when I’m looking for my next book. What one person may have liked another may not. So what it boils down to is I appreciate and follow bloggers… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Thanks Angela! I guess we never struggled with that. From early on we’ve posted what we think even the bad stuff. I remember when we first started blogging and I had to write 2 negative reviews for authors (and series) I used to religiously follow. Richelle Mead, MaryJanice Davidson and Janet Evanovich. Not easy, but it’s important to stick to who you want to be when blogging and for us honesty was one of those things. And I can’t agree with you enough, reviews are for readers. No matter what you say, they can be hurtful to authors. Even the… Read more »

rachelle
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rachelle

I agree completely with you. When I read reviews I start with 3 stars and lower I take into consideration if there is editing and grammar issues mentioned and if it’s something that’s just not to my reading preference.
Thank you for being bringing this issue more out in the open I think it may help some readers feel better about leaving a review 🙂

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Too many people are scared to give their opinion lately. Hopefully this can help like you said. 🙂

Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons
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Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons

I completely agree. As a reader, I’ve bought books based on 1 star or DNF reviews. I’ve even found that I enjoyed those books sometimes. I just want to know WHY you didn’t like it. If you DNF, I want to know percentage, page number or minutes when you quit. As a reviewer, I’ve been lucky enough that the books that I’ve planned on reviewing I’ve enjoyed. I do t always post them on the blog because I don’t write a full review, but I do post on GR and lost my reasons. I’ve thought about starting to do shorter… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Yeah mini reviews sometimes are all we can manage to say about a book. 🙂

Diane
Guest
Diane

I like the negative comments but I also realize that each of us have different tastes. I have enjoyed some books that got negative reviews and other books were highly recommended and I thought the writing was horrible. Those are the books I just don’t finish and it bothers me to pay for a download that I don’t enjoy. I learned to try and stick with the writers I truly enjoy.

Kat
Guest
Kat

I have a love-hate relationship with negative reviews. I love them, because they make me cautious and they give an honest opinion. It becomes difficult when said reviewers are just going on and on about one part or just totally ranting, dropping F bombs and overall going way beyond being helpful, and just being asinine and obnoxious. However, I have a fellow reviewer on Goodreads by the name of Khahn, and more she rates the stars or under, but her points are real, believable, and absolutely hilarious how she puts them. What happens with her, and other people, is they… Read more »