I’ve always said that if nothing else, I’m honest. This is my motto for most things in life, and yeah, sometimes it means that I end up saying things that people don’t like to hear. But my other motto is: don’t be rude! Flaming is unacceptable.
So while being honest, but hopefully constructive, why do I still feel bad when I give a book a low star rating, or when I really go to town on why it doesn’t work for me?
Maybe it’s because…
- …I’m a writer too. In assuming that these authors work just as hard, or harder, on their manuscripts, it feels like I’m betraying part of myself and somehow disrespecting everything they’ve tried to achieve.
- …I’ve turned into an academic (of sorts). I’ve been noticing more and more that, in nearing the end of my degree, I’ve been transformed into a different reader. I scan everything with a critical eye now. Whereas before I could easily sit back and roll with it, now I find myself analysing a narrative in ways I never would have thought previously. And this applies to themes, style, structure, moral standing, perspective, context.. the list goes on..
- …I’m less easy to please. The more I read, the more I expect. There’s always someone who will raise the bar for you (it’s subjective- everyone has a different game changer) and after that, similar titles will pale in comparison. J R Ward, for instance; her books blew my mind and now the adult paranormal kind of genre has a lot to live up to. (Long live The King!)
- …I’m a bitch? It’s possible, right? Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to be forgiving, or to forget the smaller faux pas or cringeworthy cliche. Sometimes I wonder if I’m hiding behind a mask of ‘honesty’ to allow me to take a harder line.
Whatever the reasoning, it doesn’t take away the guilt. Ultimately, I want every book I read to knock my socks off, but I know it just won’t happen. Some books just don’t fit the reader, and that’s ok.
But is it ok to feel bad about giving a (well rounded, I hope) bad review?