The subject of negative reviews has always been a bit controversial in the book blogging world. Some people think bad reviews are cruel, others find them vital when choosing what to read.
Personally, I don’t tend to write negative reviews of the books I’ve read on my blog, although I’m not as strict about this as I was earlier in my blogging life.
I don’t review that many books in depth, so I prefer to use this space to focus on the positive and share novels that I’ve loved or that are particularly interesting or unique in some way, or that have made me feel strongly about an issue or idea.
Like a lot of bloggers, I sometimes receive free or advance copies of books from publishers. There’s never a rule that I have to post a review on my blog, but it would feel wrong to accept a novel and then never mention it. If I don’t blog about a book, I will usually review it somewhere else, like Amazon or Goodreads.
Of course, even positive reviews often have negative things in them, but I try to frame them in a constructive way. For example I might say: “This book is beautifully written, but I found the pacing a little slow” or “A really interesting story, but I didn’t find this character very believable because…”
And a lot of my reviews tend to fall somewhere between positive and negative. Sometimes I don’t really enjoy a book, but I can see why someone else would. In this case, I think the issue is with my taste or preferences rather than the story or the author, so I try to remain objective.
But just because I don’t want to write negative reviews, doesn’t mean I think they’re wrong. A bad review can highlight issues in a novel and stop people from wasting time on something that they won’t enjoy. If all reviews were positive, it would be hard to distinguish between the novels that are worth reading and those that aren’t.
As a writer, I understand how it feels to receive criticism of your work so I am sensitive to this when reviewing, as well as the effort that goes into producing a novel. Of course, once you put a piece of work out into the world it’s bound to attract some negative comments, that’s something you can’t control. But there is a difference between constructive criticism and negativity.
The only truly negative review I can remember writing came after reading a book whose plot flaws annoyed me so intensely that I had to comment on them. Maybe if I ever feel that intensely about a book again, I’ll be compelled to write something, but when something is simply a bit ‘blah’, I’d rather just close the cover and not worry about coming up with something to say about it, one way or the other.