Imaginative Discussions: I Like Writing Negative Reviews

Posted August 27, 2014 by Kara in Imaginative Discussions, Kara / 46 Comments

Attention!! I have something to announce and it’s really important. I like writing negative reviews. I really do. And I think’s it’s time to lose my shame over that, announce it, and own it. So I’m going to.

I’ve seen a lot of negative stuff about bloggers that choose to write critical reviews said by authors and bloggers alike: “We are washed up writers” and  “jealous aspiring writers that will never make it so we take it out on successful authors.” I’ve seen bloggers say “why write a review if you don’t like the book?” and “that book is an author’s baby, they worked so hard!” Or “people that write negative reviews are book bashers who have problems in their real lives.”

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No, seriously. I have seen all of this stuff and more. How do you think that makes someone feel?

Thing is though, I don’t want this post to be negative. I just want you to know the truth. Bloggers that write critical reviews (especially the ones that enjoy it) aren’t always looked upon very positively. But I’m over caring what other people think.

People are from all walks of life. Different things make people feel good. Some people only like being positive on their blogs. Cool. That’s not me. Writing reviews is an emotional outlet for me, and I suspect that is the same for many of the bloggers I follow. I love emotional reviews that are littered with feels, whether they are negative or positive. And on this blog we don’t just write one or the other. We love writing both.

Do I wish I could love every book and never write a negative review? Sure? I’d much rather love all the books I read. But that’s just not realistic. And I feel it is my duty to be honest about the books I read. It’s why I blog. Also, I just really love criticizing things and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s why I edit. 🙂

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There are a lot of careers out there that involve criticism: movie critics, art critics, music critics, journalists, teachers, etc. There is nothing wrong with being the type of person that wants everyone to do their work to the best of their ability. Critics make the world a better place. If there were no critics, there would be no standard for everyone to meet. If reviewers only wrote positive reviews, things like editing and world building wouldn’t matter because no one would recognize what was good world-building and what was bad. And trust me, I have read a TON of bad. Something to think about.

So I’m not going to feel guilty about writing negative reviews and actually loving it. On the off chance that I do hate a book (and FINISH it–I’ve been DNFing a lot these days because I have no patience), I revel in writing that negative review because it gives me the chance to do what I love, which is talk about the things I didn’t like that could have been better. And there is not a damn thing wrong with that. I wouldn’t have this blog if I couldn’t have it be a reflection of me.

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I’m gonna own it. I’m gonna be me.

“Of what use is freedom of speech to those who fear to offend?” 
― Roger Ebert

kara

46 responses to “Imaginative Discussions: I Like Writing Negative Reviews

  1. I don’t particularly love writing negative reviews, but it does feel good to say what’s on my mind. Not everyone loves the same books and if you don’t like a book, it’s not wrong to share your opinion in a review. Negative reviews are often more useful than raving positive reviews because they show what you disliked so the author can learn from it. Of course, I don’t like it when the reviewer is just being mean just for the hell of it. 🙂
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #61: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin TalleyMy Profile

    • The author can learn from it, sure, but that is not my intent. I write those negative reviews for readers and people that love this blog. Authors have editors for that.

      I hear you on being mean, but I can honestly say that there are very few reviewers who are actually mean for the hell of it. Of all the reviewers I interact with, not a single one is mean for the hell of it. There are a couple on Goodreads but they are few and far between.

    • Thanks, Tammy. It seems this year that most of what I have been writing are 3 star reviews, which, as you know, is a bit of negative and positive. I try to stay positive when I can, but I am a very picky reader, so that’s not always possible. 🙂

  2. Oh Kara, finally, somebody speaks my language! There’s nothing better than being able to write a negative review and I so can agree with the critics aspect that you mentioned. We need expectations and negative reviews show that we’re human. I wouldn’t follow or talk to somebody that didn’t do that because they wouldn’t feel right to me. It’s good to get that bad book out of you system and sometimes, a ranty review is the best way, and while lots of people disagree, when I’ve had a ranty review or a negative review, I’ve had the support of friends and other bloggers who thankfully appreciate my opinion, so I’m thankful you’ve put this out there. We need to feel more open to being ourselves and saying our thoughts for sure! 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Book Review – CressMy Profile

    • Yayyyy! I love ranty reviews. They are the best. Of course, they are hard to read if someone is ranting about one of my favorite books, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? Bloggers who write ranty reviews are brave because people love to troll those. Especially on Goodreads, but I don’t post full reviews there which helps with that. I don’t understand why negative reviews are so frowned upon. Even in some of these comments, the tone is uncomfortable. Honesty should be everything. If someone chooses NOT to write negative reviews and makes that clear from the get go, that’s fine. It’s still not the type of blog I am gonna love because I enjoy reading critical reviews more, but I understand why someone would want to do that. But I know for a fact that some bloggers lie in their reviews because they are afraid of hurting feelings and stepping on toes, and THAT is not good. There is a difference between the two. Sorry for the book! Bottom line, I love honest people!!

  3. Honeslty, as a blog reader I prefer to read more negative reviews (not only 1 or 2 star reviews can be negative or have cons listed, 3 and 4 star ones can as well just less) because they give me a better understanding if I want to read that book myself or not. Also, I feel those reviews are more objective and honest, because they don’t only name the good, but the bad as well. The more honestly brutal the review – the better. Why is there a need to suck up to anyone and lie about your opinion to please someone you don’t even know?

    When writing reviews though it’s of course easier to criticize, but I’ve kind of made a rule to myself that you always have to highlight something positive as well. I don’t believe that there are books that have NOTHING done right. And luckily, I haven’t really read anything that’s 100% trash.

    Also, why do people blog? It’s to write about their diverse opinions and share it, discuss, and inform people not to spend their money if a book is really bad! So if, to spare the author, everyone writes only positive reviews to simply be positive or for whatever reasons, why should I read a blog for reviews?
    Liis recently posted…Review: Dragonswood by Janet Lee CareyMy Profile

    • Me too. And I agree about 3 and 4 star reviews having critical content as well. My favorite reviews to write are 2 and 3 stars.

      On the second point, there has been the rare occasion where I have found absolutely zero redeeming qualities in the book. It’s rare, but it happens. Otherwise, I agree with what you are saying. Even if I write a 2 star review, I do highlight what was good if I can find something.

      And yes. I tend to not read blogs that post only positive reviews. It’s not because I think they are dishonest, because I know some people don’t like writing negative reviews, and I get that. a few of these blogs still have really good discussion posts, and I will read those. But overall, I really just like reading reviews across the board, and I have to follow the blogs that are right for me.

    • That’s exactly why I love them. I pour my stress into my negative reviews. And not just necessarily the stress from that book. Sometimes I channel my daily life stress in there too!

  4. I like writing negative reviews too! Not that I like not liking a book, but negative reviews are much easier to write, and I feel so much better after getting all of those negative feelings out!

    When I looove a book, like 5 star love, I just cannot articulate my feelings properly most of the time. It’s hard and I end up with a short review that pretty much repeats that I love this and I love that and this and that! With negative reviews I have a much clearly sense of what I didn’t like and why, and then can talk about each thing and explain why I had a problem with it. My negative reviews also tend to be really really long…
    Angie F. recently posted…Wishlist Wednesday #61: Reviving Izabel (In the Company of Killers, #2) by J.A. RedmerskiMy Profile

    • Completely agree with your point on 5 star reviews being hard to write. I am much the same way. Negative reviews are easier to write because it’s just easier to articulate what you didn’t like and what kept you from enjoying the book. And yes, getting all those feelings out can be a great stress reliever. And there is nothing wrong with that.

  5. Kat

    I totally agree. Honestly, I find it easier to write a negative review than a positive review, just because I can refer to precise things. It’s not like I want to criticize for the sake of bettering myself, like you said, it’s simply me expressing my opinion. Usually I try to have reason for my criticism, not just “oh this book was so terrible, so never read it.”
    It’s true that blogs are for people to express their opinion and besides, there is no book out there that satisfies everyone.
    Kat recently posted…Musical Monday: BandMy Profile

    • Agreed. And as readers and bloggers, I think it is so important to feel comfortable expressing our opinions and in our own voices. And you are right. Even the classics like Jane Eyre have negative reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. People are diverse beings and that also includes diversity in our personalities, which translates to how we read and review.

  6. I could not feel like I am doing a good job (of my hobby) if I did not review neg books. I write for other readers, not authors. And I want to know what people hate and love. I would NEVER buy a book that had only positive reviews
    blodeuedd recently posted…Longbourn – Jo BakerMy Profile

    • Same. I would feel as if I was deceiving my readers if I only posted positive reviews. I never want to discourage reading, I just want people to choose the right books for them.

  7. Great post. When I write a critical review I usually list what didn’t work for me, but I try to find at least one small positive thing. In my opinion, most books can’t all be bad. I also try to find a positive review online so that I can link to that and say “Hey look, I didn’t like it, but this person did! Obviously the book wasn’t for me, but it will find some fans out there.”

    Overall, I agree that criticism is necessary, whether if it’s for small things or big things. I tend to unfollow or unfriend people that give 5 stars to everything because we all know, we can’t LOVE everything that we read (or watch or listen to). Those people are either biased or afraid to hurt authors/publishers.

    My message is, don’t be afraid to say what you think. Don’t ‘love’ something because everyone else does. Reviewing is about analyzing what you just read and being a free thinker.

    • Haha, someone above you pretty much had this same comment. My answer was that I agree for the most part, but there have been rare occasions where there was nothing redeeming about the book I was reading. I get very ranty with those book reviews but it only happens once or twice a year. Your idea about linking to a more positive review is a great idea, but I don’t want to encourage someone to read what I found to be crap either, so it’s a tough situation. LOL.

      Agree with this paragraph completely. You can’t be nice all the time. And people that do that I don’t find genuine.

      YES. Everything about being a free thinker.

  8. I LOVE THIS POST!

    Let me first say: I don’t write negative reviews. Not because I feel like books are babies and should be coddled. Or because I’m campaigning for Miss Blogger Congeniality (except, for serious, make sure you cast those votes, mmkay?)

    I used to write negative reviews. In fact, I loved writing them. It’s so much easier (for me) to say why something DIDN’T work versus why I loved something. Explaining the negatives were always easier than finding new ways to say, “OMG! I LOVED IT SO HARD!”

    But I had too many people comment on reviews thanking me for warning them away from a book. My goal was never to discourage reading, and I personally felt like that was happening. I wanted my blog to be a place to love and squee and flail about books – I never wanted someone to read a review and swear off something. My least favorite book is someone’s absolute favorite book in the world and I don’t want someone to miss their favorite book in the world just because it didn’t work for me.

    Maybe that sounds silly and naive, especially since I actually enjoy reading well-written negative reviews (not bash-fests, but thought out reviews that point out flaws and holes).
    Hannah @ The Irish Banana Review recently posted…Review: No Limits by Lori FosterMy Profile

    • I understand what you mean and I respect your choice. However, I cannot say I agree. I don’t feel like you are discouraging people from reading, I feel like you are directing people to better books. No one is going to not read because you didn’t like something. They might not read that book, but I guarantee you they will read something else, and it might be better than what you are reviewing. What if you could have kept a person from reading a book they may have hated? I feel like I am helping readers make better choices. My two cents.

      That said, your blog has to be a reflection of you and your voice. And if only writing positive reviews does that and makes you happy, then you should keep doing it. That’s why I blog the way I do. This is a hobby and we should do it in a way that makes us stay happy, you know? Thank you for the kind words!

      I don’t like bashfests either, as long as someone is not confusing a lot of snark with bashing because there is a big difference. Not saying that you do but I have seen it so much and it is incredibly frustrating. 🙁

  9. It doesn’t matter if I read or write a positive or negative review ,I want it to be truly honest review.

    And yes writing a negative review is fun. I try my best argument why !

    Lovely post , Kara
    Roro recently posted…WOW #12My Profile

  10. LOVE this post!!

    I don’t necessarily revel in writing negative reviews, but sometimes it does just feel GOOD. Or at least sometimes they’re easier to write. I find that it’s much easier to explain why I didn’t like something than to translate the AKSDLFHSHSGDIH that’s going on in my brain when I adore a book.

    And, honestly, I love reading negative reviews. Well, for most books haha. There’s something just refreshing about it sometimes and they can be fun to read! I don’t know! I don’t really care either. I think that people need to stop focusing on stupid little stuff like that. Who has time to worry about whether or not somebody likes writing negative reviews? And, like you say, we obviously NEED both kinds of reviews in the world, so how about we just live and let live?

    Great post, Kara 🙂
    Miranda @ Tempest Books recently posted…I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson {GIVEAWAY & DNF Review}My Profile

    • And I love you!! I think so many people find negative reviews easier to write, and I wonder if it has something to do with how our brains our wired. It’s so much easier to be negative!! Haha. Being happy, now that is a challenge. 😛

      Reading negative reviews makes me happy sometimes. I feel like Mr. Burns, rubbing my hands together like an evil villain. Especially the funny, snarky ones. Basically, the way I look at it is this” a negative review is one persons opinion of a book. If you are an author and you are getting upset over one random person’s opinion of your book, something is wrong. Let it go, man. Let it go. 🙂

  11. You speak truth to power.

    But seriously, I like writing negative reviews because for me they are easy. It is so easy for me to pinpoint why I hated a book and elements that just did not work for me. It’s much harder for me to write a middling review.

    Also, I love reading negative reviews hahaha and I have gotten to the point as a blogger where negative hype rarely affects me — I’ll still read something if my friends dislike it and I really, really really want to read it, but like if it has an average of 2 stars on goodreads, I am okay putting the book in the donate pile.
    April Books & Wine recently posted…The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill | Book ReviewMy Profile

    • Sameeeee. I can read a bunch of negative reviews for a book, but if I want to read it, I am still going to. Usually the reviews are right, but not always, and what ya gonna do anyway? There are a few reviewers I REALLY trust, like you, Christina, the Cuddlebuggery girls, my co-bloggers, and Jessie at Ageless Pages Reviews.

      I actually find the middling reviews easiest to write but maybe that’s because it’s a LOT like editing. I try to offer positive and negative feedback, which is very much like a 3 star review?

  12. Thank goodness!!! Someone, like me, who feels there is NOTHING WRONG with writing a negative review. I feel it’s my responsibility to be honest about the books I’m reading. Isn’t that part of the HONEST review process? It isn’t honest if a review is only written if it’s positive. People need to know if a reviewer agreed to review a book and then thought it absolutely sucked. It’s part of the process. As long as the reviewer writes the review in a respectful manner, describing what s/he thought went wrong with the book, and never being unprofessional, that’s what the review process is all about. Those who aren’t prepared to get a negative review aren’t prepared to play in the big leagues.
    Michelle Willms recently posted…RELEASE BLITZ: SOMETHING FOREVER BY MARY CLARKE/MARY TING W/GIVEAWAYMy Profile

    • There IS nothing wrong with it! Authors get butthurt and their fans do a lot of the trolling. It happens and it sucks, but I suppose we should expect something for putting a controversial opinion out there. That doesn’t mean I am not going to state it and enjoy it in the process though.

      I have to say that I do disagree on one point though. And it’s the whole part about professionalism. This is my hobby, not a job. If I want to snark, if I want to rant, I’m going to do it and be unashamed. I am SURE no one would think that was professional, but I also don’t feel like I have to be. It’s my blog. I don’t expect everyone to like it, and that’s okay. There’s a ton of blogs out there, right? That isn’t to say that some of my reviews aren’t constructive and professional, but it all depends on how a book made me feel and what kind of feelings it brings out of me. 🙂

  13. This is very possibly my favourite post ever. If I’m honest, not only do I feel it’s okay to write negative reviews, I’m also BETTER at it. It’s much easier to pinpoint what’s wrong with a book than what’s right with it – it’s lazy and I do make an effort to keep some balance, but it’s true.

    If I notice that a blog only writes positive reviews, I nearly always unfollow them. It means I can’t trust what they’re writing if they refuse to speak honestly. It stops being a review and just becomes an advertising outlet and I’m not interested in that.

    Thanks for your honest post!
    Hanna @ Booking in Heels recently posted…Ramblings: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingMy Profile

    • Oh yeah. Totally agree. Way easier to state what I didn’t like.

      Agreed. If there is something else on the blog that I like (discussion posts etc.) I will still follow, but it’s rare.

  14. I HATE when people use the ‘but the author worked so hard on it’ line. UGH. If you put something out into the world and you expect people to pay for it, then you sure as hell better accept criticism. As long as a review doesn’t get personal, then all is fair. I will be honest about my feelings. That is that, and anybody that complains about that is either an author that does not actually care about whether their writing is any good, or is a reviewer/blogger that is trying to get in with the authors. (Or maybe just a really really REALLY nice person that wants nobody to be critical ever).

    Rant aside…I wouldn’t necessarily say that I LOVE writing negative reviews, but I definitely prefer writing them. When I love a book my review tends to be OMG GO READ IT THE FEELS. But when there are actual points that I need to make? When there are things that rile me off? I will bulletpoint the heck and describe in great detail why a book SUCKS.

    So yeah. What am I talking about? Where am I?

    • Also…this is the first time I’ve talked about this publicly…but as an attempting to break out author…I am so mistrustful of my reviews! I tend to like the 3 and 4 star ones more…because a lot of the 5 star ones come from people that always give 5 stars…and I’m just like…BUT DID YOU REALLY FEEL THAT WAY?

      I honestly just want people to be HONEST you know? How will I ever improve if I’m not told what I need to improve?

      I realise this might be unfair on some of those reviewers because I’m sure many of them are genuine. But it’s definitely something that bugs me.
      Natalie Crown recently posted…Sabriel – 3/5My Profile

  15. YES! THIS! ALL OF THIS! Would I much rather that I had loved the book and could therefore write a positive review? OF COURSE! Who wants to waste time on a book that they hate? But if I sat through that dang thing, you better believe I’m going to tell everyone exactly what I think. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved by someone else’s negative review. The idea that no forms of expression are valid unless they’re sunshines and rainbows is completely ludicrous.
    Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room recently posted…Audiobook PSA: How To Train Your DragonMy Profile

  16. I must admit that sometimes, I also enjoy writing negative reviews. When I hated a book, it feels good to vent about it on my blog and I feel it’s only fair to my readers I also post negative reviews. You simply can’t love everything you read, so why would you hide that?

    I don’t care for mean, nasty reviews that attack the author on a personal level, but as long as you are negative about the book and write your honest thoughts, I’m all in for it!

    The best thing about negative reviews is searching for the perfect gifs, haha. I can get a lot of satisfaction from that part.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 283. Amy Ewing – The Jewel.My Profile

  17. I typically stick to rating 3-star books or higher… but to be honest, I feel like my reviews are sometimes more negative than those star rating let on. (Which is probably why I stay away from reviewing books I truly didn’t like.) I feel like I spend a lot of time explaining why the 3-star book didn’t get 4-stars, or why the 4-star book didn’t get 5-stars.

    The reviews I do write, I try to keep them as balanced as possible, but I don’t do a review for everything I read. And when it comes to the books I give 1- or 2-stars to, I’d rather just move on than put the time and energy into a review.

    But yes, negative reviews are important, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. What I don’t like are when bloggers treat their opinion as fact (and that’s true with both positive and negative reviews). I don’t mind reviews that have different opinions of a book than I do, they can lead to some great discussions… but when I get that judgey feeling that I’m wrong for liking or not liking a book, chances are I won’t be reading that blog anymore.
    Charleen recently posted…Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts – #31My Profile

  18. Woot, preach girl! I’ve also been DNF-ing a bunch recently, but I so so appreciate reading and writing negative reviews, especially of books that are being pushed hard, because I want to know the negatives of a book as well as the positives! And I don’t want to freaking waste my money on a book that is horrible because no one had the gumption to write a post saying it was horrible! Sorry for all the exclamation points, I just have a lot of feelings >.>
    Anya recently posted…Updates from the Lair 8/31/14My Profile

  19. I won’t say that I like writing a negative review, but they are as necessary as writing a positive review. If a book is bad, I want to know before I pick it up and waste hours when I could have picked up a good book instead. I do find I write more if I hate a book since a good book could just be that I liked how the hero and heroine were sweet together. But a bad book will sent me raving about a stupid plot point or why would she ever fall for that selfish bastard who used her, and then she forgave him. Idiot!

    I also find that if I am searching for reviews and I see 100 5 stars and 2 2 stars, I go to the 2 stars to see why they didn’t like the story. Are they truly the exception or do you have 100 delusional people out there? There was one book on Goodreads with tons of stars and one of the few 1 stars indicated that the “hero” kind of abducted and raped the heroine at the beginning of the book and how their relationship grew from there. Excuse me? How does abduction and rape lead to an awesome romance? And why are people loving it?

    But it is all subjective. I had an author contact me to ask me to post my positive review on Amazon because he had several negative reviews. And when I wrote him back I told him that how funny it was that the complaints in the reviews were all the things I had enjoyed about his story.
    Lucy D recently posted…Friday Feature and Follow w Parajunkee & Alison Can ReadMy Profile

  20. I like writing negative reviews – sometimes even if I don’t post them. Not many of my friends are book addicts, and if I’ve finished a book that I disliked, often I just want to rant! Poor copy editing, too many plot lines, underdeveloped characters, blurbs that bear no relation to the book… if I’m that irritated, I just want to get it out!
    If it reads OK and I feel it is validated then I’ll post it 🙂
    I think negative reviews are just as justified as positive ones, otherwise we’d all be even more snowed under with books we ‘want to read’, that we may not actually end up liking.

  21. Thanks for saying what I always think! I’m not really ashamed of my negative reviews. I honestly think they are some of my best work. I’ll sometimes finish a terrible book just so I can write a snarky review. I loved how you pointed out that those who criticize negative reviews are basically doing to the reviewer what they say we are doing to the writer. Really enjoyed this!
    Leila @ LeilaReads recently posted…Better Than Perfect by Dr. Elizabeth LombardoMy Profile

  22. When I read reviews for books that I’ve finished, I have to admit — I LOVE reading reviews that critique the book. I read them even if I loved the book. I find it really interesting to see what people didn’t like! I totally scan through Goodreads specifically looking to see what people have critiqued. Because no book is perfect. And I wonder about how honest a reviewer is being if they don’t say at least ONE thing about a book that didn’t work for them.

    (I rarely read the negative reviews that people write for my own books, though, because that’s like inflicting torture on myself 😉
    Michelle Madow recently posted…Free Book Friday Giveaway: A Shattered Moment by Tiffany KingMy Profile

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