Monday's Question of the Day is hosted by Eleni at /-LA FEMME READERS-/
Question: Inspired by Steph's post from Reviewer X: Bloggers, or anyone who posts their reviews on other networks, have you ever felt the need to tone down a negative review?
My Answer: Let's face it: this blog is not exactly drowning in positive reviews. I'll always say what I think about a book, even if it's negative. I don't think writing only positive reviews helps readers (or writers, for that matter). I've been sucked into reading books that only had positive reviews... which I then had to tear apart in my own review because nobody had bothered to point out the book's shortcomings, many of which probably would have dissuaded me from picking up the book in the first place. I'm now extremely wary of books that only have positive reviews. It's like there's a whiff of dishonesty and sycophancy surrounding them... and I've learned that I want no part of that.
As for whether I've ever felt the need to tone down a negative review... Well, not really. By the time I actually post a review, I've already done lots of toning down. Some books are so awful that they make me really angry. In those cases, you should see the first drafts of the reviews! But I do try to self-edit once I've gotten all that out of my system. You'll never see me say (for example), "This author is too stupid to write!" even if that's how I really feel. Getting personal like that doesn't help anybody, and I should be able to get my points across by talking about the book. Sometimes it's cathartic to include that stuff in a review's first draft, though (especially if I feel like I've just wasted hours reading something that never should have been published in the first place).
Some of my best reviews (I think) have been the ones where I just let loose on a certain book's attributes -- or lack thereof. So aside from not letting things get too personal, I'm not going to tone down my negative reviews. I think they're important, and I wish more people would write them... instead of listing only the good things about a book or not saying anything at all. We'd have a terrible mess if we stayed silent or only talked about the good things in other areas of life; I don't see why book reviews should be any different.