Discussion Time: Writing Negative Reviews


Something I’ve learned about myself last year is that I really don’t enjoy writing negative reviews.

I don’t read a whole lot of books I end up disliking, at least partially because I look books up on Goodreads extensively before reading them, and can usually tell whether I’ll like something or not in advance. But I did read a handful of one-star and two-star books last year, and I only ended up reviewing one of them.

It’s not that I’m scared that people will be angry with me, or at least, that’s not entirely it. Every time I write a review, whether it’s positive or negative, there’s always this fear that someone will comment on it to say, “LOL let me list all the ways in which you are wrong.” Dealing with that fear is just a part of book blogging, and I can usually handle it.

It’s also not that I don’t like being critical. In fact, sometimes I like writing three-star reviews better than I like writing five-star reviews. As fun as it is to gush about every little detail of a book I loved, there’s also something very satisfying about being able to fill up a “what didn’t work” section. My three-star reviews (eg, Red Queen, A Little in Love, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, Everything, Everything) tend to be the ones I’m most proud of.

But anything below that is just not fun for me. I recently wrote a review of Lock and Mori, a book I really didn’t enjoy, and writing it just felt like dragging myself through concrete. I can do a mini-review like that in a monthly wrap-up, but a full review just feels exhausting.

Sondra here. I’d like to add just one thing to this post. For me it’s also about feeling a little guilty. Like Polina said I like when I can fill up the What Didn’t Work, especially since that section is so hard for me. But I always worry “What if the author finds this? What if the person who dedicated years of their life finds this?” I always worry about that person behind the computers feelings because I didn’t like their book.

And I read a lot. I haven’t counted, but I assume my average is around 14 books a month. I usually don’t review every book I read. I choose the ones I want to talk about the most, and generally, I would rather devote my time and energy to books I enjoyed at least a little bit than books I didn’t like at all.

And I realize negative reviews are in important part of book blogging, and I feel guilty for not writing them as often as I should. So right now I’m torn between “I’ll try to write them more just to balance things out” and “I do what I want”. To be honest, right now I’m leaning towards the second one, but we’ll see how this year goes.


2 thoughts on “Discussion Time: Writing Negative Reviews

  1. Hi Polina. 🙂 Don’t feel bad that you don’t want to write negative reviews! I can understand that feeling – especially when I feel like the author might see the review on Goodreads or a link to my review on Twitter. It’s slightly embarrassing even when it’s a positive review and they read it!

    I personally write my negative reviews. I set up all of my reviews in such a way that I have “What I Liked”, “What I Did Not Like”, “Would I Recommend It”, and “Rating” sections. With every review (positive or negative), I list what I didn’t like. When the rating is harsh (2 stars or below), that section is usually pretty hefty. And it doesn’t really bother me; if I didn’t like the book, I’m going to say why, and be as honest as possible, especially in case someone else shares preferences and would want to avoid the book entirely. I like seeing negative reviews, because they’re often more specific, too. Yet I really understand not wanting to write them – sometimes I feel like a crazy and super mean person!

    Anyway. I think you have a great mindset, review what you want, read what you want, etc.! Do what works for you, there is nothing wrong with that. 🙂

    Lovely post, Polina!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!
    Alyssa Susanna (The Eater of Books!) recently posted…Review: Highland Spitfire by Mary WineMy Profile

  2. (14 books a month? teach me your ways??) Anyways, you are both such kind ladies and this is your blog. You do what makes YOU comfortable 🙂 I honestly don’t think I’ve ever judged someone by how many negative or positive reviews they do. What matters is honesty. As long as you give your honest thoughts on whatever book you choose to review, then all is well! And if you write a negative review, and an author reads it, then that is their fault. A big author rule is to not read reviews period (unless it’s expressly told that it’s a highly positive review). So please don’t you dare worry yourselves about everyone else’s opinions and feelings. This is YOUR outlet. Own it 🙂 Do what you want.
    SJ Bouquet recently posted…Hip Tips and Alternate Uses for Books You HateMy Profile

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