discussion negative reviews
Reviewing books I hated makes me resort to Paint to show my sadness.
If you read here much, you might realize that I don't do fluffy gushy reviews. I mean, sometimes I gush. But even when I write a 5 star review, there will be something I complain about. Maybe it's a quick complaint, and maybe it's implied, and maybe there were lots of others I thought about but didn't put in--but there's always something I pick at.
I really hate it. Usually. Sometimes there are books I rage about (hem, After the Red Rain) but usually that's because I had such high hopes. When I go into a hyped/anticipated book and don't like it, I feel angry and cranky and like I have betrayed the book and author with my lack of good feels. Especially if it's an author I love. Then I quietly write the review and hide and hope they never see it.
So, from me (someone who feels icky about writing bad reviews) to you (someone who maybe feels the same), some tips on writing an honest review without curbstomping the writer's heart.
1. Don't tag the author
Seriously, why is this still a discussion? I can't believe how many people do this. Just days ago, people were tweeting vitriol at Cassandra Clare about The Shadowhunters TV series...and she didn't even write the freaking thing! Remember that authors are fragile fluffy bunnies with feelings, yo. If this concept is alien to you, have someone tweet at you about how much your hair sucks and how you're a terrible person. Then go write your meantweet.
2. Don't tiptoe around the obvious
Um, yeah, so like, it was pretty good. There were characters and stuff. And you should totes check it out! ...No. We all know you're lying. Just come out and say you didn't like it. If you're ambivalent, fine, but you should never feel obligated to love a book. Here, let's try it together. "I didn't like this book." Now let out a relaxing sigh.
3. Remember that your review might still convince people to read the book
When I'm unsure about a book, I read the bad reviews. Because no book is perfect, and because I'm a snob, and because I find it helpful as a reader to know what people didn't like about a book. Because maybe it's something that I know will bother me--or maybe it's something that I know I won't care about and then I can just go read the book caution-free.
4. Don't attack the author either
Again, this should sort of be implied. But don't be a jerk. "So-and-so is ugly and stupid and can't write" isn't constructive. That said, it's okay to mention the author. They did write the damn thing. Maybe you want to comment that it didn't feel like they did enough research, or you feel like they're promoting some discriminatory views. Say it--just use your respectful words.
5. Remember that your rep is on the line
I don't enjoy writing bad reviews. (I mean, okay, sometimes it's therapeutic...) But I write them anyway, because negative reviews are important. As a reviewer, I don't want to be that person you can't trust because everything I say is glowing. I mean, who seriously loves every book? Some lucky person who never wastes a weekend reading something boring, but definitely not me. People who 5 star everything are not people I trust for good recs.
6. You are a little fish
Not to get all melodramatic on you, but keep in mind that you're one little person in a big sea of reviews. Your one bad review isn't going to tank the book's hopes and dreams (three cheers for mixed water metaphors). You are not that important. I have acknowledged long ago that people are not living and dying by my opinions. Come to the dark side and be free!
7. Go read justinaireland 's twitter feed
Seriously, her crit is always so on point. She's the master of calling people out for bad diversity writing without being nasty about it.
How do you tackle negative reviews?
What do you do to recharge yourself after hype-letdown?
What are some review no-nos you've come across?