Negative Reviews

I know a lot of reviewers won’t give a negative review of a book.  If they didn’t like it, they’d just leave it and review the books they like.  I can understand why they don’t give bad reviews.  They don’t want to hurt the author, they don’t want the author to get angry at them, or they just want a feeling of goodwill and happiness on their blog.  Well, I do reviews of books I don’t like.

In fact, I just wrote a review yesterday and gave it 2 stars.  While 2 stars doesn’t mean I hate it, it means it wasn’t something I enjoyed much.  But you see, I don’t write reviews that are totally negative and go on about how much I hate it.  I state what I thought didn’t work for me, but I also say what is good.  If you’ve read my review from yesterday, you’d see I was positive about some things. And even if I don’t like a book much, I still recommend it to people who might enjoy it.

Book reviews should also be about the book, never about the author.  I don’t talk about what kind of person an author is when I review the book.  They could be a terrible person, but have a great book.  I’ll say the book is great.  It could be a wonderful person, but a book full of problems.  I’ll point out the problems, but also say what went well in the book.  The author is not the book.  It annoys me when I see reviews for books like Ender’s Game that go on and on about Card’s beliefs and because of his stance on homosexuality, his book gets 1 star.  I don’t understand that.  That is flat out lying.  I’m an honest person.  Even though I don’t agree with Card, I still enjoyed Ender’s Game and Speaker for the DeadXenocide not so much.  My reviews show what I felt about the book.

If you are an author of a book I didn’t like, don’t take my review as an attack.  I like to give constructive reviews.  As I said before, I say what I thought worked well for me in the book.  I also say what I thought didn’t work well for me.  There could be improvement.  But I’m pretty sure many authors don’t read reviews.  However, Alastair Reynolds did read my review of Revelation Space. Probably the best-selling author that has read one of my reviews.  He told me so.

I will continue to do reviews of books I don’t like.  I don’t intentionally try to read books I don’t like, I’d prefer to spend my time reading ones that I enjoy.  However, I will continue to be honest about what I felt about the books.  But I will not resort to insults and ridiculing.  That’s not helpful.

What do you think?  If you are an author, do you read reviews of your books?  And if you are a reviewer, do you give negative reviews?  I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.