My Thoughts: Negative Book Reviews

I’m not a big fan of controversy, so though I’ve read a few posts on this topic, I’ve avoided it on my own blog until now.

One of my favorite blogs recently posted about the subject, and when I started writing a comment on her post, I realized I had a lot more to say than I originally thought.

So, I’m finally biting the bullet.

After all, typically, my blog is a pretty light-hearted place. I mean, I read primarily romance novels and I have a butterfly rating on each of my reviews that rates the butterflies books give me… It’s all pretty flowery over here most of the time. LOL!

However, I do have a pretty strong opinion when it comes to this particular topic: reviewers giving books negative reviews.

The great thing about this topic is that every single reviewer (whether you have your own blog or you just write reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon) every single one of us has a right to our own opinion on the topic of negative reviews: whether we post them or not, where we post them, what books we give them to, etc.

There are a couple of things I’ll say, right off the bat, on this topic

First, I am not a fan of people who give negative reviews that are intentionally mean and/or snarky.

I’m not a fan of trolls in any form, so it is no surprise that it makes me really uncomfortable to read negative reviews that bash an author or readers that like a book, even if there is humor involved. No matter how popular the book is… but even more if it is a book by an indie author.

I’ve stumbled upon quite a few reviewers that do this regularly and I have avoided them since. Because, frankly, it makes absolutely no sense to me why someone would read a book that they know they won’t like just so they can write a snarky review.

Maybe someone can explain this to me so that I understand? (I’m not saying that sarcastically, I’d really love to understand why people do this.)

Second, I don’t like it when reviewers give higher ratings to books just because they were given to them by authors or publishers.

Trust me, I get it. I know how difficult it is to give a low rating to someone who gave you a book in hopes that you could help promote it, but it does a great disservice to those of us who are reading your reviews for honest recommendations. I’ve seen this enough times now that I’ve started to go into reading reviews of ARCs with a certain skepticism… or I avoid ARC reviews entirely.

Personally, it’s because of my own discomfort, that I rarely review ARCs unless I fully, truly think I’ll love the book. I mean, there are so many amazing books out there — why waste my time reading books I know I won’t like?

I state very clearly in my review policy that I will be completely honest in my reviews WITHOUT bashing or being intentionally mean if I don’t like it. I also explain that I may not even post the review or finish the book. I receive the ARC in exchange for a review CONSIDERATION.

Also, I know that there are reviewers who do not post their reviews of books they didn’t like at all and that is completely fine. Again, it’s a personal preference and I respect everyone’s choice.

As for me? If I don’t like a book, I’ll tell you.

I look at it from the angle of a reader of reviews. Obviously, I expect (I almost wrote “hope,” but, no, I definitely expect) that the reviewer is 100% honest no matter how they come by the book.

Reviews, to me, are much more for the readers than it is for the author. It isn’t about making the author happy, it’s about helping readers decide what books to read.

To me, negative reviews aren’t about telling a reader not to read the book… it’s telling the reader what you, personally, didn’t like about the book in case they have similar tastes. That doesn’t always mean that the reader will share your opinion.

In fact, I discovered a new favorite author and a new favorite series by reading a one star review of a book.

This reviewer absolutely hated this book, but as I read the review and she talked about what she didn’t like, all I could think was, “That book sounds AWESOME!” Then I read it, and subsequently bought every single book in the series and spin-off series.

Now I’ve found a new favorite author… thanks to a one-star review.

At the end of the day, your blog is your blog.

It’s your choice whether you post your negative reviews or not, I just hope that you understand the authors and readers of the books that you don’t like are human beings, too, so mocking and/or bashing them is pretty lame… no matter how many likes or comments you get if you do it.

Your turn. What are your thoughts on negative reviews? Do you post them? Why or why not?




40 thoughts on “My Thoughts: Negative Book Reviews

  1. I so agree with this whole post. I get why you needed to write a post about it. I agree, writing a negative review just to bash an author is something I will never understand. Just like being realy positive when you get an ARC. I will always be honest, but in a normal way. I give my opinion, but will tell you why I think something. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And thanks for writing your post on the topic.

      I haven’t seen a lot of those author-bashing reviews on blogs, they’re mostly on Goodreads.

      Though, the reason for this could be because I purposely don’t follow those types of blogs and sometimes when I’m scanning reviews for a book on Goodreads, the mean reviews pop up while scrolling.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I’m not a fan of people bashing a book. Even when I give a somewhat negative review, I always try to say something positive about it, too. Because I know that being an author is tough and just because I don’t like something, it doesn’t mean that others won’t. Luckily I’m not a super picky reader, so I hardly ever give a negative review of something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s never easy to write a negative review for sure. I can’t decide if I’m not a picky reader or if I’m just pretty good at picking out books I think I’ll like lol! I have given negative reviews before, of course, but they are few and far between.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post! I totally agree about bashing books. If reviews are negative, they should be critical about the book rather than just bash it. I’ve found negative reviews to be useful in deciding if I want to read a book or not, especially if they highlight problematic or controversial things. It’s just useful to know the negative things about a book if you’re undecided.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Because I usually choose the books I read and review the chances are they are ones that I enjoy. I have had occasion to rate a book 2 out ot 5 or 3 out of 5 and I always try to be diplomatic. Just because I didn’t care for it, that doesn’t mean that the book is worthless. There is a reader for every book – and a book for every reader.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your last sentence. You hit the nail on the head.

      I’ve rated only a handful of books with 2 stars and 3 stars is pretty standard for me if I liked a book, but it didn’t blow me away. I’ve never given a book 1 star, though and I think that’s because, like you, I choose what books I want to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I always try really hard to stay objective when reviewing a book that I didn’t love. I will, obviously, state that I didn’t care for it, but I always try to find at least one thing that I liked about it because all books generally have at least one redeeming quality. I agree that reviews are for the reader, and I also want to help people find the book that will be a great read for them too! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      It’s so important to stay objective when writing a negative review. Often times, just because I don’t like something, I can see why others may like it, so I try to share those reasons!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this! If I don’t enjoy a book and choose to post a review I’ll definitely let people know why, but I just don’t understand why people need to be harsh and bash a book like that. If I rate a book lowly, I’ll still definitely let people know anything good points I had. Maybe the premise is super awesome and the writing just didn’t work with me. It doesn’t mean no ones else will like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very true! I do a lot of ARC reciews simply because I LOVE getting to read new things people are anticipating for free before I bite the bullet and put it on my shelf. With that being said, I’m very picky with the ARCs I request or accept. Getting an ARC is exciting for me so I can’t imagine sitting down to read one that I’m dreading. Why read anything you think you’ll dread? I definitely never try to bash a book I just didn’t like. There have been so many books highly recommended to me that I abhorred and I’m sure I’ve recommended things people hated as well. To each their own!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My exact thoughts, too. I’ve read reviews, particularly on Goodreads for popular books that have literally started with, “I knew I wasn’t going to like this book.” And I’m like, “Err… so why did you read it?” I guess some people just like being contrary.


  8. Hi Bree! I typically don’t post reviews below three stars (or on my blog I’m all hearts) unless there was something I wanted to point out in a book about a character and it really bothered me. If the writing was well don I usually give it a three because writing is so subjective. What I dislike, others may like. I also really don’t want to come across as disrespectful. There just isn’t a need for that at all! Thanks for the topic, this was interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with your post! I hate to write negative reviews (especially ARC reviews) but to me, it has to be done. I don’t want to lie to anyone especially myself. Now I won’t bash the book but I will tell you why it didn’t work for me and still tell you some things that I did like about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It was nice reading your insight on this topic!

    I like reviewing ARCs and I try to avoid the subconscious love of the book because I got it for free, first by being aware of it, but also by making sure that I give myself enough time to break down all the things that I love/like and/or dislike about a particular book. I mean, it’s tempting to just give a 100% positive review, but it’s often inaccurate.

    I write negative reviews, but I do try to give detailed reasons on why I dislike a particular book. I also refuse to quantify my ratings because it’s so subjective and also relative. I tend to also just recommend some other books that I liked better..

    Also, I forgot to tell you, but I tagged you in a post last Tuesday:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Peachy!

      I definitely think giving specific reasons as to why a book didn’t work for you is important. Just saying something like, “This book sucked,” isn’t really helpful LOL!

      Thank you for the tag! I’ll go check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I find I tend to stop following blogs that only post positive reviews. It’s possible that they just don’t review books they don’t like, but from a readers standpoint it starts to feel like I’m not reading an objective review. I agree with you, we’re all allowed to review how we want, that’s just my opinion as a reader.

    On the other side, I also dislike reviews that are mean to the author or their fans. I don’t even think there’s a fine line between those types of reviews and politely critical. It’s a large line, and it’s easy not to cross it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Just like we can review how we want, as readers we can also choose what types of blogs we follow. I totally understand feeling a little skeptical of blogs who only post positive reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes to everything you said!
    I’m also really picky about which ARCs or even review requests that I’ll accept because I’m going in hoping for the best. But if that book isn’t working for me, I’ll be honest about why.
    I also have found and loved books based on low ratings. Same as you said, the things the reviewer complained about, just appealed to me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In some ways, I feel bad that I don’t accept a lot of ARCs, but I feel like it’s kind of pointless for me and for the author if I accept a book I don’t think I’ll like.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You make some really great points! I really like where you are coming from! I am still fairly new to this whole book blogging world and have yet to post a negative review myself. I just get a very uncomfortable feeling in my gut if you know what I mean. I have come across a couple books that deserve negative reviews but I just chose not to put them up. Most of my reviews are books that I purchased myself, so I only really review maybe 1 out of 5-6 books I read and they are usually the ones I am head over heels for. Maybe I should start putting reviews up of the books I thought were, meh? I don’t know. You may have swayed my thinking with this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it makes you really uncomfortable, I totally understand why you wouldn’t want to post those types of reviews.

      I’m glad I shed a little light on my “whys” for you. 🙂


  14. I’m really late to the discussion but just wanted to say I really liked reading this post and I totally agree with everything you just said.

    I also don’t like reading negative reviews that are intentionally mean. I personally don’t even like writing reviews for books I didn’t like because I know the authors must have worked hard on them for months and even years. That’s why I only buy and request books I have a good feeling I would enjoy and love cause writing constructive negative reviews is so difficult for me. On the rare occasions that I happen to read books that does not work for me for whatever reason, I try really hard to find something I did like… even if it’s one little thing. AND I always mention how my opinions are personal and based on my experiences and just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean others won’t like it.

    I REALLY REALLY don’t like writing negative reviews… I recently read 3 books back to back that was just not my cup of tea… It totally sucked writing reviews for those. Good thing it doesn’t happen too often.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, yes, yes! Everything you said is how I feel. I’ve actually stopped requesting ARCs altogether because I’m so afraid I’ll dislike it and waste both my time and the author/publishers. It’s hard because the whole point of sending out ARCs as an author is to gather (preferably good) reviews and, I don’t know, I’d hate to be the person that brings the overall star rating down before a book is even out.

      I don’t feel AS bad if I’m writing a negative review for a book that has a ton of reviews. I feel like people reading reviews have plenty of other POVs to choose from and can make a decision easier.

      I don’t know if any of that made sense, but whatever LOL!


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