Negative Reviews: Integrity or Just Mean?

So here’s my question: should reviewers post bad reviews?

You’ve read a book, you’ve either finished it an thought to yourself ‘the f* did I just read?!’ or maybe you melodramatically shredded it an fed it to your pet gerbil, Gerald. What next?

Personally, I can’t bring myself to write a bad review – I won’t fib and write a dishonest review, but if I’ve received a review copy of a title I will thank the publisher, offer a few constructive comments and explain that I won’t be publishing a review.

I can’t imagine anything crueller than tearing apart an author’s work just because you didn’t enjoy their writing.
Sometimes a book has a great story but it grammatically shocking (I’ve come across a few self published books like this), I can completely ignore bad writing as long as the story is good but on occasion you’ll read a book and you simply can’t stand the story.
That doesn’t mean the story was bad, it just means that you didn’t like it – I’m always mindful of this because writing a book is a labour of love for pretty much all authors, writing a negative review which may actively put off new readers is just wrong.

However, on the reverse side of the coin – does your integrity as a reviewer rely on you dishing the dirt on the books you didn’t like, however constructive, as well as praising the ones that you did? I know that writing a review, no matter how positive or negative it is will up the visibility of the book so it could potentially be better than not writing anything at all.

I did find this interesting list for authors, advising them on how to deal with a negative review and lest we forget, the authors aren’t always the only victims following a negative review:



So go on, please tell me what you think – I honestly don’t know what the accepted rules are for negative reviews. I hate to say anything negative about anyone’s book out of consideration for their hard work and feelings, but perhaps it’s just a necessary evil of being a book blogger and being true to your own writing?






12 comments on “Negative Reviews: Integrity or Just Mean?

  1. It’s funny. I’m in the midst of writing a very negative review of a book I’ll post on tuesday. I generally don’t write terribly negative reviews and even when I do, I will try to be clear which reasons lead me to dislike the book and what type of readers might enjoy it. Books are so subjective so authors shouldn’t take bad reviews to heart. What one person hates, another will love. I do think that as book bloggers we should be honest about our thoughts. If I hate a book, I’ll let people know because posting that I love every book makes my reviews meaningless. That said, I try not to be mean and I always try to highlight some of the good qualities of the book. Now, when it comes to works of debut, indie authors or authors not widely known or published, I will generally not post those reviews if they are very negative or my review will mainly be descriptive rather than containing my opinion. But popular, successful authors can probably take a negative review from a book blogger without it having any impact on their success.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! That pretty much mirrors my thoughts, I just read a debut novel that I really disliked but it’s not been out long enough for me to publish a bad review in good conscience.

      I may have to start getting tougher though and dish out the occasional 2 star review if I don’t like a book

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As I attempt to recover from the trauma of reading that creepy author-stalker article (Richard Brittain. . . just.. . wtf?), I will say I’m one of those book lovers who shies away from posting negative reviews. If I hate a book I’d rather not rate it at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I write what I think about every book I read. I do wish that I could be discerning enough to only choose books I will enjoy as I don’t wish to be negative about any author’s hard work. If I write a negative review then I will try to explain why i didn’t like the book. A recent one started with “It has to happen sometimes. No book is going to appeal to every reader, and no reader is going to enjoy every book.” Hopefully an author reading that will look away. I would much prefer to be supportive, but can only do that if I think that particular piece of writing is, in my view, worth supporting. That is the crux – it is only my view.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. As others have said, I tend to avoide writing very negative reviews for indie/new authors, while I try to be very honest on popular stories.

    I’m not a book blogger, so I don’t often find myself in this position, but I did review a few books, and since a couple were on the 3-star side, I contacted the authors first, told them what my ratings was going to be and sent the review along before I posted them, offering the author not to post if they thought the review could be harmful for them.
    I have to say, no author ever asked me that. All said I should be honest and asked me to post the review just like I wrote it.

    I’m a bit more hard-hearted when I post reviews outside of my blog, for example on Amazon.
    I remember posting a negative review (2 stars) for an indie story, offering my opinion why the story didn’t work for me and pointing out a few things that made it look unprofessional (for example, one of the characters kept changing name).
    Well, the author contacted me on GoodReads and thanked me for the review because it was very thoughtful and she was going to address a few of the things I pointed out.
    We’re buddies now 🙂

    So, you never know. I think, if we give reasons why we didn’t like a story and try to be objective, more than just leaning on our personal taste, most authors won’t take the review badly.
    I think the main thing is respect. We should be respectful even when we post a negative review.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Nia
    I think your personal choice not to trash an author by writing a bad review is just that, your personal choice. I am brand new to the world of publishing and have just published my first book with a number of others in the works. If you reviewed my book and thought it not worthy of a review. I personally would understand, although in my case I would love to know why. I guess this falls under the heading of critique, and having broad shoulders, I welcome all critique. Just my thoughts. Thanks and I would love to send you the Ebook version.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Every book is worthy of review, all hard work deserves the respect of having an opinion about it- I just feel that publicly publishing that opinion if it’s negative is potentially harmful (determined to give it a go at least once… When appropriate). For now, I would quietly email the publisher/author and say ‘not my cup of tea, won’t be posting a review but will send you one privately on request’.

      I’d love to read your book, though it may be 4-6 weeks before I can review it ?


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