Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I Didn't Review You

There’s been a lot of talk about people who don’t review books if they have a negative opinion of it. Some don’t want to be mean by giving a negative review. Some feel it’s the right thing as a book blogger to be honest about a book, even if you hated it.

I haven’t written up reviews for every book I’ve read since starting my blog. But it’s not because I don’t want to be mean or can’t be honest or worry about what kind of reaction I’ll get. If I don’t like a book or am having trouble following it or staying interested, sometimes I’ll begin to skim through scenes. If I REALLY don’t like a book, I skim a lot. But I always finish (I probably wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at night if I didn’t know how it ended, even if I hated the ending).

The problem with disliking a book and skimming it is that you don’t even know where to start with a review. I’ve tried to write reviews for books I didn’t like. I sit and stare at the computer screen for far too long. I even glance through the book to see if I can recall anything specific to mention. It ends up being a huge waste of time.

And that waste of time could have been better spent either reading another book or reviewing a book I enjoyed. When it comes to my blog, I am trying to keep up with finishing my reading challenges, writing reviews not long after finishing a book, and coming up with a writing out interesting articles about books. Spending a bunch of time trying to write about a book I didn’t like is almost like having to read the book all over again. Who wants to reread a book that you hated? Not me!

But, if I am directly asked to review a book honestly by a publisher or author, I will post a negative review if I didn't like the book. Because that's what's been asked of me... an HONEST review. All my other reading is personal choice, and I choose not to review dumb books if I chose to read them on my own.

Another thing I don't do is review a book in a series when I haven't reviewed the first book. Earlier this year I read Gayle Forman's Where She Went, but didn't review it. Not that I didn't want to, it just felt weird to me to review it without reviewing If I Stay first. This is coming from my slightly OCD side. I know, I'm a little bit weird myself.

So that’s my reasoning. I am willing to compromise a little bit on the ones I don't like. I thought of an idea: Mini reviews. Write out a paragraph of my thoughts on a book I don’t like, compile a few of them into one post, voila! This way I can be honest without wasting my time, or my blog reader’s time. I did this one time with a bunch of the library books I checked out.

What do you think about people who don’t review books they hated? Do you do this too? What do you think about mini reviews?


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  1. I see mini reviews all the time on blogs. I think if you can get your point across in fewer words, more power to you.

    I understand not wanting to post negative reviews. The first review request that I ever got was not my favorite book and I struggled through the review. I think as long as you're constructive about it, there's nothing wrong with posting a negative review. For the people who don't review books they hated, whatever floats your boat. Especially as a blogger, that's your decision that you make. :]

  2. I'm always a little torn when writing a review for a book I didn't like. All in all... I'll write the review...and I will list my honest opinion. I try to stay away from ranting about it, and I will never use harsh words or foul language. (I hate seeing review's like that) And I will always post my reviews on goodreads... Good or Bad... The review gets posted there. Simply because, as a reader, I look to goodreads for honest reviews. I build my reading lists from those reviews. If the book is bad! I want to know! I hate when I buy and read a book that has tons of praise on goodreads and the book just falls flat. It's surprising how biased reviews can be at times. As for my blog... I've noticed I try to stay away from posting a book that I've rated any less than 3 stars. My blog is to help get the word out on the good books i've read... there's no need to include the bad ones. Those I simply don't mention at all. Sorry for the long reply... Your post was inspiring! :)

  3. I find myself having little to say about a book that didn't appeal to me. It's hard to write reviews for these books, but I still want to share something positive. I find myself doing "mini reviews" when this happens. I can usually only think of 1 or 2 things that I like, so I just mention those things.

  4. I have trouble with negative reviews. I've done a couple but I hate justifying why I didn't like a book. I'm someone who doesn't finish books so I have a dozen books at 4o% or so that I doubt I'll bother reading. It seems wrong to judge a book I couldn't finished since I technically didn't read it. But on the other hand I like reading thoughtful negative reviews, especially if I like the blogger since it give me a better guess on if I'll like the book or not.

  5. S. Leighanne: That's true! If someone can get a point across with few words, that's great. And it is a personal decision. I'm glad someone else feels that way.

    Book Love 101: That's actually a better idea--post a negative review on Goodreads instead of your blog. I look through reviews on Goodreads all the time to debate on whether I should splurge and get a certain book. No worries on long comments, I love em!

    flashlightreader: Same here, if I don't like it, I don't even know what to say, even about what I didn't like about it!

    Lisa: That's why it's hard for me to review some not so good books--most of the time I barely am reading it. And I've probably only read 40% or 50%, but I skip through to the end. Since I didn't technically FINISH it, why review it?

    Thanks everyone!

  6. I think I kinda just skip doing reviews *from personal reading choices* b/c I'm like you...where do I even start! I don't have anything on my blog that is below a 4 star review and those are from personal reading and author/pub asked reviews. I really do enjoy reading and only sometimes *rarely* do I pick up a book that I don't enjoy.

  7. I find that I don't write negative reviews, only because when I don't like a book, I usually stop reading it, no matter what part I'm at. There are also times where I'm reading a decent book, but I stop in the middle to read something better or something I'm more in the mood for. I'm sure there will be a negative review from me at some point, but as of right now, I mostly write reviews of the books I enjoy, since those are the ones I read all the way through. :P

  8. Since I started writing my blog, I've posted 2 reviews that were 2 and a half stars - I consider that negative although obviously, it's not the worst rating. I did feel bad about it, but I hoped I was able to voice why the books didn't work for me without denigrating them as a whole. I doubt I would ever review a book that I wanted to give one or zero stars - that would mean I hated it and I'd rant and I just don't want my blog to be a ranty place, if you know what I mean (even though, 'ranty' is not a real word). I agree with you that you just don't want to give the time, energy and blog space to a book you hated.

  9. The funny thing is, I love reading negative reviews for some reason. Call it a sick sense of humour. I think it really boils down to reviewers usually being a lot more emotional when they review something they didn't like. I prefer that kind of criticism to just "I really really loved it." Reviews that gush are almost as bad as reviews that scathe if there is little more than adjectives being thrown at you. If there is some kind of rational explanation I'll give the review more credit whether it's good or bad. Speaking for myself, I can't finish a book I don't like anymore. I used to force myself but now I have way too many books to read. When I do finish a book but didn't particularly enjoy it, then I will write a critical review.

    BTW nice layout change :)

  10. Recently, I came across a book that I didn't like. I also didn't know if I should write a review.

    If book bloggers limit themselves to writing positive book reviews, that would be censorship as we would not be expressing ourselves fully, and book blogging is all about expression. So for me, a negative book review is an expression of oneself, and no one should be stopped from doing it. But of course, the review should be respectful and should not contain hurtful words. It should still be professionally written. That is just my opinion.

    Thank you for this post. It's good to know that I'm not alone in this. haha. :D

  11. You know, you really made me think...

    It's just so hard to write a review of a book that you didn't like!

  12. I pretty much have to review everything I read or I wouldn't have enough book reviews. I try to be picky about the books I read so I don't have to write a negative review, but it happens.

  13. SupaGurlbooks: Yes! Where to even start is right. :)

    Chey: I'm sure there'll be a negative review at some point here too. I've done reviews for books that are like "meh", but not negative.

    TG: Ranty is right, whether it's a word or not. :P

    Lan: I like reading some negative reviews myself! I find them hilarious. I had to start skimming books I'm not enjoying because of my TBR pile too. (Thanks about the change, I'm still trying to find the right colors and style)

    The Fairytale Nerd: That's true, I don't want to censor myself when it comes to book reviews. It's just hard to express it properly sometimes. If I could express it well, I would totally post it. :P

    Alexis: That's true too, I usually pick out books I'm sure that I would like, and I'm usually right on that 95% of the time. So that cuts down on potential negative reviews.

    PHEW! I totally forgot to comment back on this. I couldn't believe how many responses I got. Thanks to you all for your opinions and thoughts! :)

  14. I don't write many negative reviews, because I don't usually finish books I don't like. But I've had a few that I have given 2.5 or 3 stars. Generally I like all the books I read, so most of my reviews are positive.

    I like reading mini-reviews, but I'm not good at writing them. I can't stop talking. :-)

  15. I contacted the author recently of the only book that I would have given two starts to. Honestly, it was because of the awful grammatical errors all over the ebook version. The plot may have bumped it up to three stars, but still, I couldn't bring myself to write the review.

    I did offer to be her editor for the sequel. It sounds like she might take me up on that:)
    But this has given me plenty to think about, and I might end up posting the review after all since she already knows my feelings.

    -Jenna @ Fans of Fiction

  16. Alison: Sometimes I can't stop talking too. :P I like mini reviews too. I'm hoping to do this soon so I can express myself a little bit. :)

    Jenna and Ashley: I've read a couple ebooks that had horrible grammatical errors and that definitely set my thoughts back on it because I'd keep fixating on them. It makes me wonder how some of these editors even came to be editors with how much they miss on manuscripts!



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