Thoughts After Writing Lots of Negative Reviews

Hate week has ended and all that’s left is to think about what I have done.

Can’t lie, the dominant thought is that it’s been really nice to have been super blunt for a change. It’s nice too to have made people laugh so much. It’s just easier to make people laugh when you’re ranting.

It’s also nice, really nice, to be returning to doing reviews of things I like. I’ve got The Shining Company and Small Gods coming up, and both are humdingers. The sort of book I want to share with lots of people, which is after all why I blog. Well, that and the streak, but mainly a desire to share books and bookish things so that others can enrichen their lives.

Which you can’t do with a nasty review.

Although you can if you make them laugh.

I have to say, I have found my attitude to the nasty review changing over the week. I daresay my opinion might change again if somehow they found their way back to the authors but right now, I feel far less apprehensive about their existence and far more confident about what I said in In Defence of Nasty Reviews. The catharsis enrichens my view of reading.

I still completely understand why so many bloggers prefer not to. I don’t want it to be a habit either. Still, given how many seem stressed and burnt out by what we do, I think some people would benefit from taking them up as an occasional thing. Laughter and venting help.

It was also interesting thinking deeply on why stories didn’t work for me. I often do that, but rarely with so many in such a compressed time period. Are there potential lessons for authors on what not to do?

I doubt it. There is a considerable range of opinion over the books I read. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents has a Carnegie Medal and a movie coming out. Silk Fire has a Goodreads rating on a level with an Irene Iddesleigh, popularly subtitled the worst book ever published. If I was analysing books that failed there might be lessons, but probably over half the books didn’t. I can give some advice as to how to write books I don’t hate, but I’m a small audience.

Still, there was one unifying factor that I feel is worth highlighting. In every book, part of what snapped me was the author making events more dramatic than I could bear. I’ve read and enjoyed some very dramatic books so it’s not just a uniformly low tolerance either, but I think a case of the author not making the drama feel proportionate. The point feels very clear looking back at the Palace of Kings review, where I got utterly overwhelmed by the way it jumped the shark except for one arc. “Emotionally proportionate” is what I called that arc.

And this, at least, is a point to remember.

Fictional stories are lies demonstrating potential truths. The author makes up (or steals and alters) a version of events that could be true if things were really that way in that moment. We accept extraordinary drama in stories because we know there are extraordinary moments in life, but the generality there doesn’t always carry over to specifics. Drama must be proportionate to the situation or it becomes comedy.

That’s it really. It was never meant to be profound. Just me offering a view on some books and seeing what resonated. It was fun, but now we’re onto the next thing.


4 thoughts on “Thoughts After Writing Lots of Negative Reviews

  1. I write negative reviews because I figure the thing that I hated in any given book might be the very thing that makes someone else run out to buy it. I’ve bought books based on negative reviews before (if someone said they hate the lack of sex scenes in a book, I am suddenly more interested in that book 😂) I just try not to be a jerk about negative reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I mostly try not to be a jerk too, but have recently tried letting it flow and… yeah, kinda fun. I guess the title should have been nasty reviews.

      Not the only one who sometimes buys on negative reviews tho!


  2. I believe we’ve been too harsh on negative reviews; and, I’ll use “Silk Fire” as an example. The summary of the story sounded interesting enough for me to request an eARC. However, I noticed that just about everyone who read the e-galley either had it listed as DNF, or gave it a 0- or 1-star review. There was another book released a few years ago that went through a similar bashing by enough readers to warn others not to buy it (myself included). Sometimes just giving a book a low rating with a brief explanation backing up your choice is easier than stressing out over compiling a longer review.

    There is a difference between you not liking a book “everyone else” enjoyed versus letting everyone know why a book is “bad” overall.

    Liked by 1 person

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