So there's been a lot of talk lately about negative reviews and I felt like I wanted to give my view on negative reviewing. I work very hard to review honestly on this blog, which means there will be times when I don't like a book and I will post about it. I know that not every book is for every reader-I'm a librarian, I preach that philosophy every single day! But my blog is my place to share my thoughts on the books I read and I will post honestly-meaning the good and the bad. I do try my hardest to explain every review I write and really examine each book I read and look at it and see what worked and didn't work for me-and share that in my reviews.
I honestly get a little tired of seeing the blogging world turn into a gushing review society. Really, every YA blogger adores every single YA book they've ever read? Really? That's the beauty of reading-we all have different ideas, thoughts and experiences with books. What works for us might not work for someone else-and that's OK! I want to know honestly what you think about a book, not just some glowing gush-fest of every book you post about.
So with all that said, here's my advice and thoughts on negative reviews.
To bloggers: Let's face it-bloggers are reviewers, and not every review will be 100% positive and gushing. If that were the case, than all the professional journals would be handing out starred reviews like they were candy. But they don't.
It's OK to post negative reviews. It's OK to not like a book. But if you write about a book you didn't like, be polite and be respectful. It is never OK to bash an author personally or use a negative review to say mean things about an author. An author is separate from the book-you are reviewing their book, not them as a person. It is also never OK to tell someone not to read a book. Don't make generalizations about all readers and assume all readers won't enjoy it. Just because you didn't like it doesn't mean others won't. It's OK to tell someone why you didn't like it, but understand that everyone has different opinions. That's what makes reading so great-we all take different things from different books and we get to talk about it.
If you do decide to write a negative review, make sure you explain what it was about the book that you didn't like. What didn't work for you? Don't just say it didn't work but explain why it didn't work for you. I also think it's OK to examine various aspects of the book-plot development, characterization and character development, setting, theme, etc. Your review should be an evaluation of the book. K.T. Horning's fabulous book From Cover to Cover (which is a great resource when it comes to reviewing) states that reviews should include an analytical section that includes "statements about literary and artistic elements, including evaluation, comparison, and mention of contributions to the field."
And readers-don't assume that just because you read a negative review, you won't like a book. Just like you can't assume because you read a positive review you'll love a book. Each reader is an individual and we all have different reading tastes. Yes, a negative review might make you less likely to read that book next in your TBR pile, but don't let a negative review make you give up on a book completely.
To authors: I know, negative reviews suck. I get that, really. It sucks writing them-honestly. But no book in the history of books has had 100% glowing reviews. There will always be someone who doesn't like your book. Yes, it might be over things you find petty but that's the readers opinion and they have every right to their opinion. Don't bash bloggers for writing negative reviews. Don't whine and complain about a negative review. I'm sorry that someone didn't like your book. I'm sorry that maybe I didn't like your book. But remember-everyone has different reading tastes. Not everyone will love every book they have ever read. You won't love every book you ever read!
Just because I might not love a book doesn't mean I'm not going handsell and booktalk that book as a librarian. I will still promote your books. In fact, my teens find it hilarious when they love a book more than me-it just means they are way cooler than I am! And it doesn't mean I don't like you as a person-I think all authors are amazing and wonderful. But sometimes a book just isn't the right fit-and that's OK. And I have every right as a reader to my opinions and thoughts on those books-even yours.
I know there's an unwritten rule among YA authors that authors won't write negative reviews about each other. OK, fine, don't review each other negatively. But I'm not a writer, I'm a reader and I'm a reviewer. I'm giving my opinion on a book and sharing that opinion with others. What they do with that opinion is up to them.
Yes, I know blogging is not the same as professional review journals. But no author would ever dream of writing a blog post or tweeting about the horrible reviews they got from Kirkus, School Library Journal, or Booklist. And they wouldn't write a letter to the Printz committee demanding to know why their book didn't win. So why does that happen to bloggers?
We need to keep in mind that everyone deserves respect. Bloggers, authors, readers-we all deserve respect. And we all deserve the right to our opinions. We can respect each other, even if we disagree, and even if we write negative reviews.