Book Blogger Hop: Negative Reviews

I’ve never done a book blogger hop before (credit for this week’s prompt of “Do You Post Negative Reviews” to Heather @ MM Romance Reviewed). But I saw HC Newton’s post on this and decided to get involved because this is a topic that’s been going around my head for a few weeks.

You see, I’ve been sitting on a negative review, uhm’ing and aah’ing what to do with it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I post negative reviews. I have no particular brief on whether other bloggers should or shouldn’t – the only guide here is your own conscience – but I do. Not very often, because I DNF books like it’s an Olympic sport, but I do. I used the term “idiot plot” in four different Legend of Korra articles and finished my review of Lackey’s Closer To The Heart with “can only recommend this book as how not to do it.”

So I post negative reviews but sometimes I don’t. What gives?

The review I’m sitting on – and I think a lot of people here know or can guess what book it is – is one I have polished and polished. I found my first attempt was failing in my quest to make you understand the level of my unhappiness, so I went and read a book of Jay Rayner’s most vitriolic restaurant reviews. In this book, he talks about some of the ethics of handing out absolute skewerings. One of them is that he’ll often spike bad reviews of struggling family run restaurants. The power of my platform is tiny but such as it is, I don’t particularly want to kick people when they’re down. Simultaneously, I know that all publicity is good publicity. Some books, I genuinely don’t want to risk helping out of the gutter.

Does that sound petty? Kinda vindictive? Yup. You betcha.

Here’s the thing. For me there’s a line between being critical reviews – books where it didn’t work for me but I can talk about dispassionately – and negative reviews. Negative reviews are what happens when I feel intensely exasperated by creative decisions if not outright insulted. You want me to spend my time and money on pampering your ego and this is what you give me? When that happens then yes, I fire back and I enjoy doing so. Writing very negative prose can be a marvelous experience.

Just I don’t always find it right to share it. Sometimes it is, sometimes its not. But let us all be captains of our own soul here – so what do you think?

7 thoughts on “Book Blogger Hop: Negative Reviews

  1. I have re-written and de-fanged almost every negative/harsh/less-than-kind post about a book before hitting “publish.” I know that struggle about kicking when they’re down.

    Critical vs. negative–good way to think of it. Think I’ll borrow that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not had to defang yet, but then I tend to very much stream of conscious my reviews… and, hell, I just don’t finish enough books I feel like kicking.


  2. Oh I fully understand this.
    I don’t write ‘proper’ reviews, but I act on bookshops…
    I like to give books the benefit of the doubt, some I don’t like but it’s not the book, it’s me, and so on, but there’s one exception.

    There’s this ‘old’ (published about 10-11 years ago) book which is awful. Book 1 of a trilogy, which I got because the blurb sounded interesting, but then the actual book was a bit weird and not very well written. But you know me, I’m a completist, and when I noticed my library had the rest of the trilogy, I borrowed them. Book 2 was bad (not only plot but also bad writing), but I plogged until the end. I read 2 pages of book 3 before physically throwing it across the room, the writing was so AWFUL!
    Now, I don’t know who he’s paying, but that book 1 is always in Waterstones! Try to find any of the more recent ones, it’s not available, but that one is always there, and worse, either face-front on the shelves or actually on tables!
    What I do is, I ALWAYS put a better book on top of it, or turn it cover back, and once I actually told someone who I’d seen had picked it up to not even go near it because it was very badly written!

    It may not have that big an impact as ‘famous’ book-bloggers reviews, but I do my bit to improve the world šŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think a negative review can be helpful, and I like the distinction you mentioned, critical vs. negative reviews. In this case, I mean a critical review, and I think such reviews share what works and what doesn’t and why, which is why I find them helpful. So when I write a “negative” review, I write hoping it’s a critical one. Still, those negative, ranty ones are entertaining to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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