I’m Terrible at Writing Negative Reviews

December 1, 2020 by Bec | Books, Chatterbox

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that not every book you pick up is going to be a good book. It’s impossible for a single book to click with every single person who picks it up. The vast majority of people probably just put a book they don’t enjoy aside when they finish and forget about it. But us book bloggers/ reviewers have to express our thoughts on books we didn’t enjoy.

What constitutes a negative review varies from person to person. I consider it anything I rate 2 stars or lower (2.5 stars is mediocre. 3 stars is still a book I enjoyed). There are also a lot of different negative review styles. Some people are really balanced, some people write rants. (We won’t acknowledge the people that write personal attacks about an author when they don’t like a book. That’s not okay).

“Mixed” reviews are probably a better way to describe what I write, rather than outright negative ones, especially now I’m writing pros vs cons list reviews. Even before my new style, I don’t think I ever just straight out ranted about a book without saying something positive. I always try and highlight at least some of the things I enjoyed even in the books I strongly disliked, or at least point out the aspects that had potential.

Something I’ve noticed when writing my pros vs cons reviews is that I struggle to come up with points for the cons list. Really struggle. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m generally pretty easy going when it comes to books (I try to go into most books with low expectations, so that way my enjoyment can only go up) and usually only pick up books I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy or what.

You would think it would be easier to write a more negative review than a genuinely mixed or positive one, particularly if the rating is 2 stars or lower. Normally it’s easier to articulate/ rant about the things you really didn’t like, especially since I take notes while I read. Not for meeeee.

I wonder if it’s because I kind of feel guilty when I’m writing a negative review? I don’t like being mean, even though I’m not really being mean. I like to think I write balanced reviews and explain the specific reasons a book didn’t vibe with me. Personally, I find some of the slightly more negative, honest reviews more helpful than the super positive, gushing reviews (there has been more than one book I passed on after trusted reviewers with similar tastes to me didn’t enjoy it). So I have no reason to feel guilty. BUT I DO. The guilt makes a nice mental block when I’m trying to come up with cons about a book.

How do you feel about writing negative reviews? Do you enjoy reading negative reviews?

Also, for the love of all good books, DON’T TAG AUTHORS IN ANY SORT OF NEGATIVE REVIEWS. It’s rude.

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Bec is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves all types of novels. Fantasy, sci fi, and historical are my usual go-to genres. If I’m not binge reading, I’m usually gaming, trying to take decent photos for bookstagram, or freaking out about silly things.

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8 responses to “I’m Terrible at Writing Negative Reviews

  1. Cassandra Bland

    If I don’t like a book but feel the need to write a review since it was an ARC I usually just say what someone might like about the book and am typically pretty vague, for example, if you like a story with multiple characters and settings and a story that moves quickly with a variety of things going on all at once, you would enjoy this book. And my review is usually much shorter for books I don’t like as much.

  2. I try to be more objective in my reviews. I write up a list of what worked and what may have been better on my reviews so that it will give balanced view. And even in a not so good book, I try to add some redemption points.

    • Bec

      That is the nature of reading. Everyone has their own individual tastes, so not every book works for every person. I usually end up having a statement somewhere about how it wasn’t for me but I hope others have a better experience

    • Bec

      Sometimes you need to start with a rant to get it out. I commend you for writing it in your notes first!

      I too have ranted once or twice. But usually about the characters choices more than anything else. Even then I still purposefully take the time to try and find some redemption points.

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