Chatterbox: Emotional vs Critical Reviewers

April 24, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Chatterbox, Features


Melanie @ The Daily Prophecy recently wrote a post personal vs professional reviews, which inspired me to write this post on different reviewing styles.

In the past, I’ve been an emotional reviewer where despite a book being written well, I would rate a book based on how I felt like it, and how it related to me. Who cares if the book had a few issues (like Jo being a massive target in Weather Warden) or if it wasn’t the best book ever. As long as it made me feel, it captured my interest, it entertained me and gave me an awesome story, then a high rating it will get.

As an emotional reviewer, a book can really resonate you in some shape or form, but it would be hard to put into words exactly why and how. Emotional reviewers tend to relate the book to personal circumstances or events. These reviews will be on how the book felt and what it meant to them personallyrather than the writing, or the prose, or the format.

Some of my favourite emotional reviewers are: Cait @ Paper Fury, Aimee @ Deadly Darlings, Emily @ Loony Literate

Since I started my blog, I became a critical reviewer, where I give a critical breakdown of aspects of the book that I really liked, and didn’t like, along with characters, tone, pacing, messages conveyed and the writing. This will allow you to analyse whether a book will be for you, regardless of my star rating or whether I loved it or hated it.

Because of my critical review style, books that I loved may get 3 stars, because it may have a few issues (like Lara Jean feeling incredibly young in To All the Boys I’ve Loved). A star rating doesn’t reflect how much I enjoyed the book. It represents how well written the book was, how many issues or positives there were in it and whether I’d recommend it to others.

Some of my favourite critical bloggers are: Amanda @ Beautiful Bookish Butterflies, Faye and Rashika @ Social Potato, Joy @ Thoughts by J.

While emotional reviews may show a lot more personality, help me get to know the blogger more and are fun to read, critical reviews will help me decide on whether a book is for me. I love and appreciate emotional and critical reviews alike, because they both present different experiences. How about you?

None of these gifs are mine.

Are you an emotional or critical reviewer? Which reviews do you prefer?

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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86 responses to “Chatterbox: Emotional vs Critical Reviewers

  1. Francine Soleil

    I think I tend to mix up my reviews. Some are emotional while some are more critical. I guess it depends on my mood while writing the review. Though I do like reading both, I mostly like reading emotional reviews because they feel more personal, and maybe easier to relate to. This is a very interesting discussion.
    My recent post Musings: Looking Back at Old Reviews

  2. I think I am kind of both? Like if I didn't like the book I'll settle on the critical analysis, but if I loved the book but just can't explain it, I'll just flail around and talk about how much I loved it. Though now I am starting to realize that I'm becoming more critical than emotional.

    I have to agree about the ratings vs. review thing. I really want people to focus on my review rather than my rating, just because ratings are very relative (to other books I've read before) and they just don't fully represent what I thought of the book as a whole 🙂
    My recent post Stacking the Shelves #26

  3. I do enjoy an emotional review every now and again, just because it's so interesting to see how something may affect someone differently. But I'm definitely a little more critical. Ideally, I try to do a mixture of both (you know, break things down objectively). I just feel like it's easier to project my thoughts if I'm doing it a little more critically, you know? Loved the discussion, Jeann! x
    My recent post The Girl At Midnight #1: The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey

  4. keionda

    Hmm. I would have to say I'm an emotional reviewer, because like many have said, it's more of a fun way of reviewing (and plus I'm a pretty expressive person as it is) so this way it comes natural to me. I always enjoy to read the emotional reviews because I like to be entertained and at the same time I like to get the "emotional" side of how someone liked book (or didn't like the book) But on the other hand, critical reviewing is also okay because sometimes you may want all that nitty gritty stuff. 🙂
    My recent post AUTHOR NEWS: Yeahhh Jennifer L. Armentrout new e-book (Free!)

  5. I personally am a critical reviewer.I don't try to be one,but by default my reviews end up being critical,because my reviewing style is largely influenced by me being a literature student.So I tend to analyse every single detail of a book when I review.
    But I enjoy reading emotional reviews a lot!They are really fun,especially if they are negative reviews:)
    My recent post Why do we need more diverse books?

  6. Interesting post!

    I think I do a mix of both. Sometimes I'll react to a book emotionally — usually something I love or hate.

    But then I think I'm critical when it's a book that's a solid 3 stars, but didn't really make me feel. So I end up being critical when I try to figure out why it was just okay, not horrible or amazing.
    My recent post The Reading Machine [14] – April 26, 2015

  7. I think I am a bit of both. I tend to be failry critical, but I can also give a book a 5 stars if I loved it even though I can still mention some things I didn't like as well.
    The rating is more based on how I feel about the book and my review reflects on both what I felt about the book and a more critical side where I mention which things didn't work for me, but those things that didn't work for me are still a bit emotional as well as they relate to me and what I like or don't in a book. It's hard to seperate the two in my reviews I think. I do feel that the tone of my reviews is more critical as I have trouble letting my emotions come to the forefront when writing a review.
    My recent post Sunday Post #123

    • Yeah, a lot of people rate based on how much you \’liked\’ the book which is how GR rates, but I tend to rate more critically than most. Definitely good to use a combination of both things 🙂

  8. Jae

    Great post, Jeann! I'd like to think that I'm a mixture of both but I'm probably 90% emotional reviewer, especially if it's a book I really loved! When I first started writing reviews with my rating, I use to think it was a given to write strictly critical ones! Thank goodness I started to realize otherwise because it was not my jam. Now I just let out the feels lol. Preference wise, I like to read both! Those points you've mentioned are spot on 🙂
    My recent post Week in the Nest: 4.26.15

  9. I am more of an Emotional Reviewer, but I'm trying to be more Critical so people get a well-rounded view of the book, especially if it's a book that I didn't like but can't really explain why.
    My recent post Sunday Post 4/26

  10. I actually don't know if I'm a personal or critical reviewer. A book hardly ever makes me feel anything if it's bad, so I might be a little bit of both. I don't know (:
    I find it incredibily interesting, though, those different kinds of reviews! I think I like reading critical reviews most.

  11. I like a mixture of both, and I think I try to do that in my reviews. I definitely rate based on an emotional level, but I'll include in my review elements that did or didn't work for me, that will likely be different for others, to show that it wasn't a book issue, it was a me issue. Great topic!
    My recent post A Great Reader Is…

  12. Aww thanks for featuring me Jeann! I've actually debated about whether I want to switch to being less profresh with my reviews but decided against it because I wanted to be critical and picky about things. LOL just kidding, but I really like the indepth reviews like you mentioned, especially the ones that really tell me what the book is like. But I love reading a whole mixture as well, especially ones with gifs too! 😀

  13. Eugenia

    I think I'm going to have to sit on the fence in this case – I am a mixture of both. It depends on the book itself and how I react to it, and sometimes my reviews will be more critical, while if I absolutely LOVE a book to pieces, I'm bound to be more subjective. Thanks for sharing yet another fabulous discussion Jeann 🙂
    My recent post Genie's Weekly News (30)

  14. Thanks for sharing me Jeann! That means a whole hell of a lot to me! 🙂
    I've got to say, I like a mix of reviews from different people. Cait is an emotional person, as are a few other bloggers, while others that I love, like Zoey and Jess are really critical and they show me what a book has as to whether I will like it. I don't get swayed by one type over another, but the community is balance with the variety, which is great!<3
    My recent post Hello and Welcome to BBB: Version 2.0

  15. Precious

    I'm not actually sure what I am. I think in some ways I'm an emotional reviewer, and in other ways, I'm a critical reviewer. Or maybe it just depends on the book, and how I felt after reading it… lovely post!
    My recent post Blogger Spotlight #1 Sign-ups!

  16. LilysBookBlog

    Jeann this is a fabulous discussion topic.
    I'm a bit of an odd one. I feel like sometimes i can be one or the other. Like either I am an emotional reviewer or a critical one. It really depends on the book for me. There are so many great books that had me feelings SO MANY THINGS and I let EVERYONE know that i loved those. And then there were other books i ended up really liking but wasn't completely emotionally invested in. So i had to look at them another way.

  17. Lisa @ Lost in Lit

    I'm an emotional reviewer 100%. I only read for enjoyment. I actually do have a lot of respect for critical reviewers since it's almost like a talent to me to be able to pick apart a book like that. I do enjoy reading reviews like that and I give those reviewers a lot of credit. It's just not for me. I just don't think that way when I'm reading a book. That's why we recently changed our posts to no longer say "review" since really all we're doing is chatting about how a certain book made us feel. I have favorite reviewers who review both ways, and I love them all equally. I like seeing the different perspectives on the same books. Great topic! 🙂
    My recent post Lisa’s Stacking the Shelves & Weekly Recap ~ 4.25.15

    • That is a very smart way to review Lisa, especially if you are reading for enjoyment. It's funny because I'm the opposite – while reading a book, I always think of the things I could say about it.

  18. I actually think I'm a little of both, Jeann! My stars are based both on my personal feelings and my overall enjoyment of a book, and on the way things are executed, grammar, writing, points of view and all that…

    And I also pick out books based on both critical and emotional reviews, because I'm a mood-reader when I read for my pleasure 🙂

    Have a great weekend, Jeann!
    My recent post Review: Uncovering Ray – Edie Danford

    • No problems Lexxie, I know heaps of people have said they are both as well 🙂 it does depend on how you felt about the book.

  19. I'm definitely an emotional rater in all circumstances (high ratings for any book I enjoy despite flaws- this is for the star rating. I also do the rating out of 10 because that's my more objective measure of the quality of the book). In terms of reviews, I'm an emotional reviewer if I really liked or disliked the book, and more critical if in between haha
    My recent post Review: Death Marked by Leah Cypess

    • I do enjoy your emotional reviews hehe 🙂 yeah, that makes sense, because the average ones don't leave much of an impact.

  20. thebigfatf

    Definitely both. It really just depends on the books. If I feel emotionally overwhelmed then duh, I'll write a flailing review. But if its just an average book, I'll do a critical one. Critical ones are fun but emotional ones are pretty fun as well cuz of the endless GIFS!!!!!!!
    Great post, Jeann!

    • It really does, I mean if it didn't leave that much of an impact, then at least you can talk about other aspects of the book like plot, etc.

  21. Bec

    I think I'm a mix of emotional and critical, mostly emotional though. How I feel about the book plays a massive part on how I rate it, and there are many books that aren't amazingly written but I rate high because I connected with the characters involved and just really enjoyed the ride. But in my reviews I always try to talk a little bit about the other aspects and be objective, especially in my ransoms (sometimes I'm more successful than others haha)
    My recent post Who Likes Cliffhangers? (Hint: I do)

  22. Zoe

    Love, love, love this post Jeann. I'm definitely the kind of reader that falls more at the critical end of the spectrum versus the emotional side. (Which is hardly surprising since I’m a Virgo, and a Virgo’s most prominent traits are being critical & analytical. I guess I’m just meant to be a reviewer, right? ) If there’s something about a book I don’t like, I’m not afraid to deduct for that or critique it, even if it has something redeeming in its place. Thanks for sharing this and, as always, fabulous discussion!
    My recent post Red Queen

  23. I know this is going to seem a little weird but this post (and especially the part involving critical reviewing) made me feel so much more sure of myself.

    Sometimes, I find myself really loving a book but when I take a step back to really look at the book, I realize that maybe the book isn't as perfect as I thought it was. It becomes so hard to untangle that from my enjoyment of a book so when it comes down to rating them, it takes me longer to figure that out (unless i am a 100% sure that it's one thing). And you saying that you do that too reassures me that there is nothing wrong with that.

    But yes, I enjoy reading both kinds of reviews! Emotional reviews are so much funnnn and critical reviews help me decide if a book is for me! I think, in their own ways, both kinds of reviews can help me get excited for a book (or feel vary).

    Fantastic discussion post, Jeann!! <3

    (AND I AM YOUR FAVORITE??? You're my favorite tooo *tackle hugs*)
    My recent post Review: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

    • ALWAYS AND FOREVER RASHIKA. I'm so glad this post confirmed the way you review- I really enjoy your indepth reviews Rashika! It is hard to explain and put into words just why a book affected us so much emotionally, but combining the critical elements kind of shows more about it you know?

  24. I think I end up being a mish-mash of both! Though I think I end up rating my books according to emotion more so than critical, because in the end, my rating is about how much I liked the book and not necessarily just how well it was written.
    But I do agree with a lot of the bloggers, it's definitely nice to have the different types of review because they do serve different purposes.
    Great discussion, Jeann!
    My recent post Review: A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna Campbell

  25. In all honesty? I have no clue if I'm emotional or critical. I could say I'm a little bit of both, but sadly, that's not entirely too true. Sometimes I tend to be more emotional, sometimes more critical. Of all the other reviewers I work with at Bookwyrming Thoughts, I think there's probably one critical reviewer.

    For me though, I think I rate books on how I feel AND how I think the book should be rated (though most is how I feel). In writing the review, I think it varies.

    Emotional reviews ARE more fun to read though – critical reviews can sometimes be a bit boring if it's not at least a little entertaining.

    Interesting topic, Jeann! 🙂
    My recent post Blog Tour: Supervision by Alison Stine – ARC Review + Giveaway

    • Yeah, it really does depend on the type of book that you read and the impact that it made. Thank you Sophia!

    • Fair enough Rachel, it's always interesting because how the book made you feel can be different for everyone.

  26. I'm probably one of those in-betweens. When I read reviews for a book that I *think* I might be interested in, I prefer reading more critical reviews than emotional because I need to know what's in there, since I think how everyone reacts to a book might be different based on our individual lives. So I guess the way I choose what reviews I like to read becomes what kind of reviews I write too!
    My recent post Mini Reviews: A Study in Sherlock

  27. Stephanie B

    I find that my review style changes based on the book. I think I fall somewhere between emotional in critical. For me though, the star rating is based on how much I liked a book and the actual review is where I address actual content for readers to use so they'll hopefully know whether or not the book is for them.

  28. Isn't it interesting you say that, because it's the emotional ones that convince me haha – maybe it's people who review in similar ways to us? BUT YES I'm definitely an emotional reviewer. I do enough critical essays on books for school – I'm not game to do it in my free time as well!
    My recent post I’m back! Did you miss me?

    • Hahha I'm not too sure, emotional ones do convince me but there may be some elements of the book that wouldn't work for me.

  29. Lucy

    I like it when a review is Critical as well as Emotional. It gives me the opportunity to discover if I might like the book based on how it was written but I also want to know how the story can have an effect on the reader. When I write a review I always try to be both critical in my review as well as portrait how I felt while reading the book. 🙂

  30. Kara Terzis

    I think maybe I might be a little bit of both. I'm not really sure! While I love reading emotional reviews I think it can be important to have an even balance of the two. Usually I just blurt whatever I think/feel about a novel onto my blog, so I doubt whether I fall into either category. Then again it might also depend on the book itself. 🙂
    My recent post Friday Photography (15) Winter Is Coming . . .

  31. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    I love to read both types of reviews as they serve totally different purposes – I do admit to like reading the emotional ones more as they are usually more entertaining. However, the more analytical ones help me make a better decision – great post.
    My recent post Little Rebel Stories ~ Monster Needs His Sleep

  32. *flails* I am DEFINITELY an emotional reviewer. I think I was serious once? It was horrible so I never did it again. HAH. But really, I like reading all kinds of reviews, because, like you said, they serve different purposes. If I'm REALLY torn between wanting to read a book (or maybe not knowing what it's really about) I really love the analytical reviewers. But the emotional-reviewers are usually the ones convincing me to read books. 😉