Bad Reviews

On Twitter I recently saw a thing from an author who reacted poorly to a bad review of their book.  It caused some discussion amongst the tweeps and got me thinking about writing bad reviews.

I honestly pick up every book hoping to give it a 5 star review.  I WANT to love everything I read.  In fact, I’m fairly careful about what books I do choose to read in order to avoid the ones I think aren’t for me.  I’m especially careful when it comes to signing up for an early review copy or a blog tour.  I hate going back to a tour host and telling them that I can’t give a good review to a book.

But sometimes I do end up reading a book that I don’t enjoy.  These generally fall into two categories:

  1. books that just aren’t my cup of tea
  2. books that need an editor

The first category are books that I thought I’d enjoy, but it turns out just aren’t for me.  That doesn’t mean the writing is bad or the book poorly done, sometimes it’s just a storyline that doesn’t resonate with me or a character I can’t related to.  These also are books where the world building or character motivation wasn’t well enough developed for me. I didn’t enjoy The Selection series (gasp!).  I know LOTS of people did.  But I’m also not into shows like The Bachelor, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a book with the same basic premise didn’t work for me.

The second category is harder for me.  Especially when the concept behind the story is good, and there are parts where I can see promise.  But I’ve found the books that fall into this category for me, are often self-published or at least not represented by a major publishing house. And my issue is usually that the books needs an editor.  Not for spelling and grammar, but for flow and continuity and readability.  There are places where I lose track of the story or it jumps around with too much detail on something  and not enough elsewhere.  A good editor would help the author polish this type of book and could help improve the readers experience. But without that I’m left disappointed in the book.

So what happens when I read a book that I don’t like? First, I feel badly writing a bad review or rating a book poorly. I know it’s a lot of work for an author to get to the publishing point. I don’t want to give a bad rating to a book, but I also want to be honest.  With bad reviews I try to be specific about the things I didn’t like or the issues that I had with the book. I hope that lets other readers figure out if the things that drove me crazy are something that they would enjoy. I’ve read reviews where I think, oh that’s not a problem, I like when that happens in a story. And I also try to highlight the areas I did like, again so other readers can get a picture of why I gave the rating I did.

I am surprised sometimes when I read reviews for books that I rated poorly.  There are often a number of 5 star reviews with comments like “it was great!”.  And I’m left wondering if those folks read the same book that I did!  But one of the wonderful things about books and reading is the pure variety of genres, authors, worlds and experiences.  It’s ridiculous to think that everyone will love every book.  And authors should take heart in knowing that even some of the most wildly popular, best- selling books still get bad reviews.

What do you do when read a book that you want to rate poorly?  Do you still review it? Do you give it a bad review?


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