Friday, December 3, 2010

Negative Reviews - Do You Post Them?

I thought this week's Hop question was a good one. I know many bloggers are not comfortable posting a "negative" review. I'm with Jennifer. Everyone's entitled to their opinions and should feel comfortable sharing them on their own blog. But it takes guts to be the voice of dissent and can be a little scary. Here's the official question: "What very popular and hyped book in the blogosphere did you NOT enjoy and how did you feel about posting your review?"

So, yes. I have posted less-than-stellar reviews for popular books. Three come to mind: The Passage (3 stars), A Great and Terrible Beauty (2 stars), and Evermore (1). No one can like everything they read. If you read much you're bound to hit a few duds along the way. But I think even a dud can teach you something about the way you read, the way you think about the content and, more generally, what you like and don't like reading. 

A part of The Prairie Library's function is to provide reviews, not only for books I think are good but bad ones, too. Any review is subjective and I certainly don't think I'm an expert on reviewing (far from it). Another function of this blog is to simply share my thoughts with the reading community. Conversations about disappointing books can be just as fun and robust as talking about good ones. I'm learning to be confident (hopefully not cocky) about sharing my opinions. Opinions change, and I reserve the right to change mine, but sharing them is what this blogging thing is all least for me!


  1. I think it really depends on how the reviewer presents their opinion. If reviewers are respectful, speak only of THEIR reaction to the book, and avoid saying anything personal about the author, likely no one will take offense. When I write any review, I tend to address positives and negatives--in my experience, no reading experience is entirely positive or negative, so a review shouldn't be. I read very few negative book reviews, and I wish people felt more comfortable sharing their real opinions. When I read a really vague positive review (usually given 4 stars) that says things like "This book was so good. I can't think of anything bad to say about it.", I just wonder if the reviewer is afraid to say how they really feel. An uninformative positive review is way worse to me than a thoughtful negative review.

  2. Wow, I didn't realize I had so much to say on this topic! :)

  3. What a stunning it.

    I have posted only ONE negative review...and even that one wasn't that bad. :)

    Stopping by from the hop.......Happy Hopping.

    Stop by my blog to see my answer to what book I thought wasn't worth all the hype.

    silversolara AT gmail DOT com

  4. I often find that my three star reviews create more conversation than my five star reviews. That doesn't mean I like to post three star reviews more, but there are negative aspects to every book and I'm not afraid to point out what I didn't like.

  5. Hopping through. I think negative reviews are totally fine as long as they're fair.
    I really liked Evermore...but didn't like the later books.
    My Hop

  6. Stephanie - Thanks for the thoughtful response! While I believe strongly that a reviewer should be able to say what he wants, in the end, a "venting" post isn't very useful to me. I try to keep that in mind now when I review a book I didn't care for - what can I say that will be useful.

    Elizabeth - Thanks! I took the photo in my header this summer in Minnesota.

    Thanks for hopping by everyone!

  7. I am totally pleased to see people aren't afraid to say when they don't like a book. I absolutely agree with Stephanie that it is all in the way you present your views. Not liking a book and voicing that in your review should never turn into a personal attack.

    I just reviewed a book where I had some major problems with what I felt were shortcomings on the part of the author. I don't think I turned it into a personal attack though. I certainly hope I didn't.

    Love your site, btw. I am your newest follower!

  8. I try to say something positive to offset any negative comments because my library patrons are younger than me and have different points of reference.

  9. I do post negative reviews, but unless I hated the book I can usually say something positive too. I don't see why I shouldn't post them really, why should a negative review be worth any less than a positive one. I do wonder though if it's bad to put people off a book with your negative review, a book that they could have ended up loving

    I posted my own post on this some time ago here

  10. I enjoy writing the occasional negative review. Trashing Dan Brow's The Lost Symbol was a positive joy.

    My post for this Blog Hos is at:

  11. Hi! Thanks for hopping by my blog -- now I'm visiting yours! I think an honest review is what's important to me, so if someone doesn't enjoy a book, that's okay. But I appreciate a balance -- mention what you didn't like, but try to find something that's a positive.

  12. I love to read different opinions especially negative ones with hyped books. It is always interesting, that is one of my favourite things about blogging - the variety.

    I'm glad you liked my question :-)

  13. write negative reviews or not? seems to be the big polarizing issue du jour.

    I don't care if a review is positive or negative, I just want it to be well written. I've read 5 star reviews and known right away that book is so not for me, I've read 2 star reviews and known right away I'll probably love something that didn't work for someone else.

    do I post negative reviews? Sure do. Have I posted a negative review of a book everyone else seemed to love? Yup.

    Superhyped books that didn't do a thing for me: The Windup Girl, the Dervish House, and Tome of the Undergates.

  14. I have posted a few,and one was pre-pub and I waited until after the book was published to post my review. But honestly, a lot of books that I would give a bad review to, I never finish, and so I don't review them. Either I don't think it's fair, I don't think I have enough information (does the book improve if I'd stuck with it), or I just don't feel like I should share my opinion with the world when it's based on a partial (sometimes very partial.) So that's why I don't have more negative reviews myself.

  15. Anne - you make a great point about certain readers having different points of reference. Everyone has something they're looking for or need out of a book.

    Carin S. - That's interesting that you waited until the book was published to post a negative review. That's very thoughtful to the author. I'm not sure what I would do in that case but, I think I would post it before hand if I felt confident about what I had to say.

    I find I review fewer books I flat out hate or really don't enjoy. I've started abandoning reads much quicker now if I don't like them. And I never rate a book I don't finish. I think it would be terribly unfair. Sometimes, I post about why I abandoned a book without being too harsh since I didn't finish it. This is a chronicle of my reading habits, after all, and I like to keep track of books I couldn't get through.

  16. I tend to agree :-)I think a review is a review - good or bad book, it's after all an assessment of the book, a very subjective assessment, but needed. :-)

  17. Fortunately I haven't had to give many negative reviews. 90% of the books I read/review are books I've purchased for myself and as such I've already "pre-screened" them as something I will likely enjoy. That said, even on these that I've personally chosen, I'm not adverse to saying something negative about them.

    Of the other 10%, most of those are gifts from family/friends who know my tastes pretty well and another few are books I've won from contests...which once again I generally only opt-into if I think I'll like them.

    Even with all of that said, I've had a few books that I legitimately did not love and I said as much in the review. I always try to be as fair as possible (positive OR negative) by presenting things I both like and dislike. Interestingly, when I'm stating something I didn't like, I often present more disclaimer-style information than usual.

    I agree that "a review is a review" but I also acknowledge that negative reviews can often get flamed by those who love a book, claiming that the reviewer is being unfair or overly judgmental of the work.

    As reviewers, I think we need to be as fair as possible and if we present a negative review, we should be ready to back up our opinions. At the same time, those who disagree with reviews should acknowledge that the reviewer is generally presenting his/her own opinion based on his/her tastes and background...something unique to every reader.

    I know we can't "all get along", but we can respect each others' viewpoints and learn from them.

    Frankly, I love reading negative reviews as much as positive reviews...they often tell me more about the book than a gushing positive review does.

    As an author, I would naturally prefer a positive review more than a negative review. At the same time, when I send a piece of writing out for feedback, I generally prefer Negative feedback because it comes with action items as opposed to Positive feedback that just says "this is good."

  18. Okie - Thanks for response! I appreciated what you had to say as a reader and author!

  19. The Passage was the book I talked about, too, as being a disappointment compared to its hype. I tend not to post negative reviews on my blog because I'm a bookseller and it's part of my job to read things that might not be my cup of tea so that I can be knowledgeable about them. Thus only the books that I like end up on my blog.