[Book Talk] Rarely Writing Negative Reviews: Is it a Problem?

08:00 Cilla P 34 Comments



I was updating my review archive when it occurs to me that I have given very few negative reviews over my blogging life. For reference, I've written nine 2-stars reviews out of 55 reviews on this blog. The rest of the reviews range from 3 to 5 stars, and the occasional DNFs. This makes me wonder: why? How have I managed to avoid giving negative reviews?

It's possible that I've simply been reading good books. Maybe it's luck, or maybe it's my increased use of Goodreads. See, the upside of Goodreads for me is being able to check, prior to choosing a book, what my friends have thought about it. Of course, my opinions may be different from theirs, but I have a few people on my Goodreads who have similar tastes in books to mine. If they like the book, there's a good chance I will too.

It's also possible is that I haven't bothered finishing books that I would likely end up disliking. The Maze Runner, for instance, was a DNF for me after 30% of the book. I don't know if I'd like it better towards the end, but at that stage, it was a 2-stars book for me.

There's also a chance that it's my star system. When I don't love a book, but don't hate it either (an 'I think it was just alright, but someone else might like it' response) - it ends up with a 3-stars rating. 2 stars to me mean 'I didn't like this book for a number of reasons and wouldn't recommend it', and 1 is 'it was terrible and I would recommend against reading it'. Other people may have different approaches to their ratings.

Whatever the reason, does it make me an unreliable reviewer that I have mostly written positive reviews? I'm not going to lie; I went back to my 3-stars reviews to see if I had done so purely to avoid 2-stars. I didn't. While I may feel differently about a book one day and go back to change my ratings, they stand for the moment.

Maybe I have just been lucky when it comes to books!


Let's discuss!
Are you suspicious of a reviewer who largely posts positive or negative reviews? 
Do you lean one way or the other with your own reviews?



34 comments:

  1. I've heard that a lot of bloggers don't write/post negative reviews on their blogs, and that's totally fair! Some people don't want to focus on the negative and I totally get that. I don't particularly enjoy writing negative reviews but I do it because I like to critically analyze things, and I find writing those negative reviews often helps me unpack and sort out my feelings about why I didn't like a certain book.

    -Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it when people actually critically analyse a book they didn't like, rather than just trashing it! It makes for a thoughtful read as much as it is thoughtful writing, I think.

      Delete
  2. I don't think it makes you an unreliable reviewer when you mostly write positive reviews because I feel I'm in a similar situation.

    I think I've posted between 400-500 reviews on my blog already and it almost never happened that I gave a 1-star rating even though I think that I can be VERY critical when it comes to books I don't really like.

    BUT for me a 1-star book is either extremely problematic and pisses me off with really stupid or discriminating things or it's a book that has not only a terrible plot but is also poorly written, for example with lots of typos etc.

    I also think that I am very picky when it comes to which books I buy or read and I always check Goodreads ratings or reviews before I actually get a book and I think this helps excluding a lot of bad or maybe just disappointing books right away.

    On the other hand I also rarely give 5-star ratings which might be the downside of being picky because my expectations are usually pretty realistic and that maybe makes it harder to surprise me even in a positive way.

    Also I listen to a lot of audiobooks and even when a story is disappointing but I really like the narration then this also leads to a better rating than if it would be a print copy.

    So as long as I have the feeling that reviews are not just enthusiastic praise but well-argued I'm not suspicious of someone who mostly posts positive reviews ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting! I can totally understand your reasoning about 1-star books, and how they would be quite rare to come by. Also, after reading 400-500 books, it makes sense that it would be harder to surprise you! I agree about audiobooks too - I've found that an excellent narrator can make a story more appealing than it is in print. On the flipside, a bad narrator would probably drive me to DNF the book!

      Thanks for stopping by, Sebastian! :)

      Delete
  3. I’m not suspicious of reviewers who post mostly positive or negative reviews. I rarely write 1 or 2 star reviews because I’m pretty good at finding books that interest me. If I really don’t like a book, I DNF it and don’t write a review. Most of my reviews are 3 or 4 stars.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *high fives* I find DNF'ing much easier to do now that I don't have a lot of time to spare. Why waste time on books you know you won't like when you can be reading something better, right?

      Delete
  4. I don't finish most books that I would give a 1 or 2 star review to. I only do that if there is something so bad about the book that I need to talk about it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't think that makes you an unreliable reviewer. There are many bloggers who prefer simply to promote books they enjoyed. And, honestly, it would take me awhile to even notice if someone posted mostly or only positive reviews. I don't have a mental checklist of all the reviews each blogger has written! --Krysta @ Pages Unbound

    ReplyDelete
  6. I very rarely end up writing negative reviews because I've become so selective. There are several that are also a case of "I didn't like it, so I didn't bother to finish it." But I've definitely noticed that since I've become more entrenched in blogging and tracking things on goodreads, I've gotten a LOT more selective. The only time I really approach a book without getting a pretty good sense of knowing I'll like it anymore is the occasional audiobook that I pick up on one of those sales. When you get 2 books for one, and you can find 1 book you know you want but don't really care about the rest, you might as well tack on something random, right?!

    ~ Michelle @ FaerieFits

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right! That is how I've ended up with random books I'd never heard of before, haha. Sometimes they ended up being awesome, and other times - not so much.

      Delete
  7. I don't think it makes you seem unreliable as a reviewer. Some people just don't finish, or don't review books they hated, so I probably wouldn't think anything of it. I haven't written too many negative reviews myself (although my last review was one of those rare negative ones!), and I think that's to do with blogging and using Goodreads more - I think i'm just better these days at choosing books I'll like.
    Great post! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, now I need to check out your blog to see that rare negative review haha. Thanks, Laura! :)

      Delete
  8. I think I tend to try to see the good in things, so most books don't end up being less than three stars for me. I tend to only rate books two stars if the book really bothered me for some reason or just didn't hold my attention at all. I'm okay with this, though. I don't plan to change anything anytime soon.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't change, Nicole! You're an awesome reviewer just the way you are. ­čĹŹ

      Delete
  9. I think I write even lesser negative reviews than you! It's been ages since I last write a 2 stars and 1 star review. I think it's because I'm picky about which book I read lately since school keep me busy and I can't read as many as I want to. So mostly I just read books I'm super interested with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *highfives* I think that's a good approach to choosing books when you don't have time to spare!

      Delete
  10. I think writing a lot of positive reviews can show that you're good at picking out books you enjoy. For me, I know a lot of (not all, of course) my negative reviews come from when I think I'm going to be cool and branch out or giving something I'm skeptical a try. Then it turns out that, no, I still don't like that type of book. Actually, I'm more inclined to raise eyebrows when I see people writing a ton of negative reviews. If you hate everything you read, you might be doing something wrong. Maybe you actually don't even like YA, or historical fiction, or whatever it is you're reading! --Briana @ Pages Unbound

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that's a good point! Now I'm tempted to go back and look at my negative reviews to see if there's a pattern to them.

      Delete
  11. If I didn't enjoy a book, I usually don't want to spend a bunch of MORE time thinking and writing about it. The exception is if it made me angry, in which case I'm happy to write a critical review. But if it was just boring, or seemed dumb to me, or wasn't my thing, I just rate it on Goodreads and move on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Meh' is hard to write a review for anyway, I think!

      Delete
  12. Awesome topic! I've also given most books that I had read a positive rating and that's probably because I tend to be careful of what books I'm choosing when it comes to read them and looking at what my Goodreads friends think about the book also helps!

    Here’s my discussion topic on Reading Slumps...YUCK!...How do you get out of them? !

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ronyell! I'll check out your discussion soon! :)

      Delete
  13. Oh this can be so tricky! There are the books that I can see that are objectively well-written and compelling but where I just didn't take to the characters or the message - so that would get a high rating but doesn't mean I liked it. Then there are the books which I did enjoy but can see weren't very well written, so they score lower than the books that I actually didn't take to but can admire artistically. And yes, then there are the books that I didn't like but can see that this is my problem - I'm not in the target demographic. I do try to include negative reviews, particularly if I've been sent an ARC but on the whole, I think that any rating system is going to have advantages and disadvantages. Really interesting topic for discussion, thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh that's interesting to me that you might give a book a high rating even if you don't like it, or the other way around! For me, it can be hard to objectively judge books, and so my rating is highly influenced by whether I liked the book or not. Thanks for the thoughtful comment! :D

      Delete
  14. Most of the time I DNF my 2 star reviews before they even get to the rating point (and I don't rate books I DNF before the 50% mark). And lately, I've been going with the philosophy that if I'm not enjoying a book, I'll DNF it.

    In my rating system, every book starts at the baseline of 3 and it moves accordingly based on my reading experience. If it's just ok, it stays at a three. For it to go to a 2 star I have to really dislike the characters or the way the plot evolved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That philosophy would save you a lot of time, I think! Also, that's so interesting about your rating system. I'm really enjoying hearing about the different approaches through the comments on this post!

      Delete
  15. I think the combination of a different star rating and the fact you'd rather DNF books is definitely a good reason why you hardly write any negative reviews. I try to avoid them too, with the same method of looking on Goodreads for reviews from my trusted friends. Sometimes, however, I can't seem to avoid them and I do end up writing a negative review. I always try to stay polite and objective, because simply because I didn't like a book, doesn't mean someone else will not love it.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yess, even with recommendations from GR, sometimes you can't avoid not liking a book. Staying polite and critical is important when writing a negative review, I think, 'cause otherwise it's just putting the book down and that's not really constructive.

      Delete
  16. I try to think of the stars like grades. 5=A, 4=B, and so on. I don't think the way you rate is too far off the mark. It's okay that most of your reviews are positive.

    The only thing I don't like is when people ding the stars but then don't explain why they did it. Obviously the reviewer didn't like something about the book if they aren't giving it five stars. So I want them to tell me what it is they didn't like.

    Jen at Books That Hook

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, sometimes I do want to know more when someone rates a book quite low, especially if the book is otherwise hyped!

      Delete
  17. I definitely don't think I'm lucky, per se, in avoiding bad books; when I pick up bad books, I usually DNF it. As a result, I never tend to write full out reviews for DNFs because I feel like I never read enough of the book to make a substantial review. However, I do enjoy reading negative reviews; I feel like they're incredibly important for potential readers to see!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, negative reviews definitely have their place! I like being able to see both sides of the readership, and different people pick up different things in a book.

      Delete

Thanks for reading! It makes my day to hear your thoughts and I will respond asap. :)