|Photo compliments of KristyKay, some rights reserved.|
Anyone who has been writing a book blog for any amount of time has had to consider whether or not she should write a negative review of a book. It isn't necessarily a matter of choosing to lie, or not, but rather, a matter of choosing whether to bother reading enough of a book one is not enjoying so as to be able to write a review, or a matter of choosing to spend time writing about a book one did not enjoy. I recently wrote a negative review of Inconceivable (click to read) and the author emailed me and asked why I didn't just DNF it and move on--in other words, why did I go to the effort of writing a bad review, particularly when my review policy (you can see the link at the top of the page) says that if I dislike a product I may just run promotional material in lieu of a review. When I finish this post, the next one to be written will be a review that is at least somewhat negative. Why am I bothering? There are plenty of books I've chosen not to review since instituting this policy (I used to read everything sent to me for review, and then after plowing through the horrible books, write critical reviews, but I decided I wasn't going to do that anymore); why these?
For me, part of the answer is the "persona" if you will that I've tried to project as my on-line image. I am a Catholic, a mom, middle aged, conservative and a bookworm. I try to reflect those elements in my writing, even if, as usual, I'm not writing about subjects directly related to those qualities. While I review books for a couple of Catholic bookstores, the fact that I'm a Catholic affects the way I look at most books. If I am unhappy with the way an author (whether writing a religious book or not) portrays Catholicism, I'm going to write about it. If I read non-fiction and disagree with the author's conclusions, you'll read my opinion here. If I enjoy the book and hate the end, you'll know it. If I think I have some prejudice that is coloring my vision, I try to mention it, but hey, this is my blog, and if you are reading it, you want to know what someone like me thinks, right?
Part of the answer has to do with how much of the book I read, and why I quit. If I read most or all of the book, I'm much more likely to write a review than if I gave it fifty pages before giving up. If I recognized that it was just one of those books that wasn't for me, but will probably have readers that enjoy it, I'll likely just move on. If it is a book garnering a lot of positive reviews, and I have specific reasons for disliking it, you are a lot more likely to see a negative review from me than than you would be if it is a little-known tome that just doesn't grab me. I guess I think my readers are like me; and while something initially attracted me to the negatively reviewed book, ultimately I decided I didn't like it, and I'd like my readers to understand why. If someone sends me a review book and specifically asks for a review, whether good or bad, I'll write the negative review.
What about you? Do you ever write negative reviews? If so, why do you choose to write a negative review rather than just moving on?