Posted in Chit Chat

Writing reviews for books I didn’t like…

We (the royal we, also I’m looking at you, assuming you’re of the same philosophy) do not simply flame books and their authors.

But it’s also a big part of my modus operandi to be honest.

So what do I do about those books that I simply did not like?

Here’s the main crux of my dilemma:

I’m an aspiring writer. Dammit, I AM a writer, I just haven’t got to that glorious stage of being published yet.

*wishes on a star*

*wishes on a candle*

*wishes on an eyelash*

And I’m reminded more and more each day how small and close-knit the publishing world can be. I think that’s definitely the case for the YA part of the market. There are some seriously scary fandoms to come up against if you don’t like something… and those fanpeople can be SCARY INTENSE!

See, I don’t want to nark someone off (whether that be an author, a blogger, a potential reader) by saying things that are less than nice about a book. I’ve always been of the standpoint that as long as I’m level-headed and justified when it comes to explaining my criticism then I have nothing to worry about.

But lately I can’t seem to match my head and my heart.

I’m not going to lie and say I liked a book when I didn’t. So should I be keeping quiet for the sake of professionalism, instead?

When you think about what a review is, in simplistic terms, it’s one individual’s personal opinion. And that opinion will be biased- the book will be read through a veil of that individual’s personality and morals and beliefs, and so a rating is given according to how pleasantly those elements are challenged, and also mollified.

My idea of a Happily Ever After will vary wildly from the next person’s, true?

I like to think that I’m fair. When something didn’t click for me while reading a book I like to be honest and upfront about it. Otherwise you’d be left pulling a strange face at my 3-star rating when I’ve only said good things about a book.

I would never make a personal comment towards the author themselves, and I wouldn’t be excessively mean or unjustified in my feedback. That said, how do you feel about negative reviews? And how honest is too honest? Do you explain a DNF?

Huh. Questions. So many questions.




YA writer. Epic reader. Professional procrastinator.

13 thoughts on “Writing reviews for books I didn’t like…

  1. Trying to review a 1 star or a 2 stars book is an agony. I always find it a struggle to write compared to the ones I loved. I don’t want to leave a low rating and not explain myself, but I usually just focus on the story and not the one who wrote it. At the end of the day, some things just “click” with you while others don’t. I also try to use the sandwich method when giving reviews, which is basically noting the good points, then revealing what I didn’t like, then end the review in a positive note. I’m aware that these stories are a part of the author’s heart and soul, so I try to communicate my honest opinion and acknowledging that what might not be a fit for me might be great for someone else. I understand your predicament though, since you are also a writer! It’s tough business, that’s for sure.

    1. Yes, I try and use the sandwhich method too! I mean, there’s always something I like about a book, so sometimes I just focus real hard on that.

      Thank you for your thoughts. I’m glad it’s not just me that struggles writing those 1 or 2 star reviews!

  2. I’m in a very similar boat. I think my struggle with it is that I usually find negative reviews more helpful when deciding whether I would like a book than positive reviews–especially because they do tend to be more rational and more logical in explaining their criticism.

    I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings because I didn’t happen to like the book. And I am not going to lie and say I enjoyed something when I didn’t. But it feels a little dishonest to not say anything either, and I’m not sure why.

    1. It does, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s difficult because you know how much time and effort and heartache an author has given to a book.. and I almost feel guilty for then not liking it! Ha ha!

      1. Ooh. Yeah. Awkward. In that kind of situation I don’t think you can ever go wrong with saying ‘it just didn’t click for me’. It’s being honest while also being sensitive, I think.

  3. I think as long as you’re not getting personal in a negative review then you’re fine. Just make sure you have some evidence as to why you didn’t like the book. Back up your opinion with actual passages and that kind of thing.

  4. A person has the right to be honest, especially if that is what the author and publisher want. However, being mean towards the author is not the way to go about doing so 🙂

  5. I’m of the philosophy that honesty is the best policy but that is easier said than done in most cases.

    When I leave negative reviews, I try to be constructive and not just destroy the author or their work. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t so I try to highlight the strengths and the weaknesses so a reader can make up their own opinion whether or not they want to pick it up.

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