I’ve definitely turned a corner over the past few months when it comes to writing up negative reviews.
I read an obscene number of books and gaining perspective on what it is that I do and don’t enjoy – I’m rapidly gaining confidence in slapping a low star rating on the titles I don’t enjoy reading.
I’ve considered doing ratings for different areas of my reads – storyline, writing style, characters etc. but in all honesty, I can’t be fucked.
I take great enjoyment out of writing my blog and seeing as it’s a labour of love, I see no reason to make it harder on myself.
I’m not obliged to like every book I pick up and given that I read 111 books in 2016, there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to enjoy all of them. A lot of the books that I read are self published, passed on to me directly from the author and that presents its own problem: the book hasn’t got the endorsement of a known publisher and if you don’t like it, you have the dubious honour of telling the author directly that you think their work is sub-par.
I’m pretty good at picking books I know I’m going to enjoy, so my reviews are most 4-5 stars but this year I’ve resolved to broaden my horizons and read things I wouldn’t normally pick up but the odds are high that I’ll be finding as many thinks that I dislike as well as like.
As a reviewer, it’s nice to be able to publicly announce ‘I loved this book that an author dedicated years of their life to writing’ and share it with the world but sometimes you just have to be brutal.
Writing reviews has to be entertaining, you can’t cut out all the fun and somberly pin one star to your review with a ‘better luck next time’ just because a book was embarassingly awful. So, be brutal – just remember to reference at least one positive thing in the book if you can, no matter how small.
In 2016, there were actually two books (one print, one audio) that I actually gave up on halfway through and refused to review on moral grounds. One was so horrendously racist it made me cringe, it was trying to be a satire but failed and the other…. dear god.
The synopsis bragged about how ‘outrageous’ and ‘horrifying’ it was, daring you to listen the whole way through if you dared – obviously that drew me straight in, I love outrageous horror! What made me sick to my stomach though, and I mean physically sick, was that this book was essentially child pornography. Girls under 10 doing unspeakable things to adults, but the author threw in a ‘but they were possessed by the devil’ as if that made the grotesque fantasies he was writing out acceptable.
I think this is a far cry from last year and my fear of saying anything negative about other people’s work. As long as your review doesn’t get personal, anything you say is golden.
The one thing I have learnt by reading awful books is to be careful of the channels through which I acquire my review copies – don’t accept a book directly from the author unless you think you’re going to like it. They have your contact details now and have every right to have their feelings hurt by criticism, they are real human beings after all.