Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday's Question of the Day (24)

Monday's Question of the Day is hosted by Eleni at /-LA FEMME READERS-/

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.


  1. I agree with you about the importance of negative reviews. I do tend to wonder about books that get nothing but rave reviews. Maybe they are really great, but it almost seems too good to be true. Maybe I'm just a suspicious person :)

    Sometimes I feel a little worried posting a less than glowing review about one of these books, so I'm glad you wrote what you did about wishing someone had written about some negative aspects. You're right, as a reader, it IS helpful to see those reviews.

  2. Much like you my negative reviews have been toned down by the time they appear online.

  3. I think as long as you don't write personal attacks, then negative reviews are fine. It is important to find some kind of balance, especially with books that have been blown out of proportion. For instance, my entire book club was unimpressed and bored with The Alchemist, yet that book often gets glowing, this-book-will-change-your-life, reviews.

    So keep to the truthful reviews and help save some of us from reading dreadful, soul-sucking, time stealing books!