Feedback Request: Negative Reviews

I rarely make requests of our dear readers, but today, I am seeking your feedback. Whilst general comments are of course welcome, I am specifically wondering about negative reviews, and whether you want to see them on The Literary Sisters.

I recently had a conversation with my boyfriend about whether it was worthwhile to include the odd negative review here on the blog. I tend to review those books which I have very much enjoyed and would recommend, but throughout my time here so far, I have included reviews from time to time of tomes which I really did not like. I’m just rather conflicted over whether I should continue this practice going forward.

Obviously not all of the books which I originally intend to write reviews about are ones which I enjoy, despite my often high hopes. I will sometimes begin to take notes for a book, find that I’m not enjoying it by around the halfway point, and will then not feel motivated enough to type up my thoughts. However, I have always wanted The Literary Sisters to be reflective of my reading journey, a place where it is documented. For me, this is an important part of a book blog, steering me toward books which others have enjoyed, and which I can add to my TBR, but also giving nods toward those titles which they perhaps have not liked in the end, and which I can then give further consideration to before picking them up myself.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer blogs to be places of constant positivity, with titles which you can be sure are recommended? Do you like the odd negative review, to inject a bit of realism into proceedings? Please share your point of view, whatever that may be, and many thanks in advance to those of you who do.

35 thoughts on “Feedback Request: Negative Reviews

  1. This is a great discussion post which I’m sure everyone will have an opinion on. Personally I only. Put reviews on my blog that I rate 3 stars or above as I want my blog to be a positive environment. That being said if I do have a criticism about an aspect of a book that I’ve rated 3 or 4 star I will include it in my review but be constructive. Saying something negatcie isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s done in the right way and isn’t hurtful or vicious. 😊

  2. I really find it disturbing the way people insist on positive reviews, and am highly sceptical when everything is gushed about. To be honest, if I only see positive reviews, I can’t really trust that reviewer’s opinion, and I’m less likely to even care what they think…

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Tony. There’s a lot of truth in what you’ve said, and I agree with you; it’s always best to be balanced.

  3. Hello Kirsty. I posted a negative review here a few days ago. I think it’s the first one though. I think if you feel strongly about a book, for good or bad, you should feel free to say so.

  4. I think that negative reviews are fine, because keeping things positive leaves out a lot of good information about what makes a book good.

    Although when writing a negative review, I think it’s important to try and find at least a few positive points, or make statements like “if the book had done XXX instead, then it might have been more interesting”. And it’s important to phrase things such that it is clear your opinion is involved (though I guess that is common sense), as opposed to some hard and cold fact that a book is not enjoyable.

    Finally, in the case where you are writing a review from a received review copy, I think extra care should be made for negative reviews, and in some cases it may be better to provide feedback to the author privately then write a mostly negative review (:

    • Thanks so much for giving me your thoughts! I tend to not read many review copies nowadays, as I just don’t have the time to do so, but I appreciate your comment; it’s definitely sometimes a kindness not to provide negative feedback.

  5. It’s quite a complicated subject, I actually think! I try to read books I think I’ll like, though having said that I’ve had a couple of bad experiences this year! I have no issue with a negative review (although I would hate to read all negative ones) and when I write them I try to clarify what it was I didn’t like. So yes – if a book fails to live up to your expectations, then say why. I’ve actually had a look at some of the 1 star reviews on Amazon when I’ve felt I really didn’t like a book and everyone else seems to – it does help clarify the mind. Having said that, I read one book I hated so much this year I didn’t review – I couldn’t bear to! So I think it will partly depend on how much you actually dislike the book!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I’m the same as you; I do try my best to select books which I think I will enjoy, but sometimes there are some duds which I find along the way. I’ve also hated books which the majority love, and loved books which the majority seem to hate, so I suppose it’s all swings and roundabouts. Could I please ask which your bad 2021 books have been? I’m curious!

      • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (or whatever it’s called) and The Housekeeper and The Professor were both failures for me, and oddly my negative reviews on the blog got a lot of attention. However, I hated A Swim in the Park in the Rain so much I didn’t even review it…

      • The first two books you mentioned are ones which I really enjoyed, and I’m going to seek out your reviews with interest – I don’t know how I managed to overlook them before! I think I might steer clear of ‘A Swim in the Park in the Rain’; I was planning to get the audio version, as it has some great narrators, but I’m rethinking that now!

      • Well, I’m glad you loved those books – many people do! As for Swim, I think I’m not the only one who’s reacted this way – maybe get it from the library rather than invest money to begin with….

      • Yes, I’ve seen some very mixed reviews of it so far. I must admit that I’m not a fan of Saunders’ thus far, so I’m not sure if or when I would actually feel motivated enough to pick up the book, or borrow the audiobook! I read the first 50 pages of ‘Tenth of December’ and abandoned it, and was quite underwhelmed with ‘Fox8’ too.

  6. Actually I quite like it if there are also negative reviews. It is more realistic, they can be fun to read and help me to find out what kind of criteria the reviewer uses and whether it might be a good idea to steer clear of the book in question. On the other hand you won‘t find that many negative reviews on my own blog simply because they are – at least for me – more time-consuming to write. And time is always an issue…

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this! I agree with you that negative reviews are a lot more time-consuming – and also less enjoyable – to write, but I agree wholeheartedly with your comment about realism, and helping to select books that you’re more likely to enjoy.

  7. I would like to see negative reviews if they are thoughtful and honest. My TBR is so huge it is helpful to know what to weed out

  8. I prefer book bloggers to be honest about their opinions on books they have read. I presume that because a book is not one person’s cup of tea doesn’t mean that I might not enjoy it . I don’t see the point in being nasty about books I’ve disliked although I have sometimes wondered how a book got published at all. I’m happier reviewing books by dead authors!

  9. I understand why some folks choose to post only positive reviews, but I prefer a mixture of both. I think it’s more honest. We won’t like everything we read and it’s okay to say you didn’t like something and why. I think these spaces are for readers, so it’s okay to have such discussions. It’s not intended to hurt the author.
    Personally, I’ve picked up and added books to my TBR because of a negative review I read. What might not work for one person may work for someone else.

  10. I’d like to know about books to avoid so fine with negative reviews and “did not finish” and why.Tend to get taken in by blurbs so waste quite a bit of time reading a chapter or so and then dnfing…

  11. Hello! I prefer to read both positive and less positive reviews, as long as it is stated clearly what are the reasons behind the opinion. On my blog I have mostly positive reviews because I am very picky with the books I choose to read, but I still have negative reviews from time to time. For the negative ones I explain what I did not like and also whether it might have been influenced by a personal context.

  12. This is a very interesting question. I very seldom have books that I dislike enough to give a negative review. If I am disliking a book a lot, I stop reading it. I will say that I did not finish a book in my weekly roundup and give the reason why (i.e. graphic sex, couldn’t connect with the characters, too much profanity for no reason etc.). I don’t love every book I read and a 3 star review for me might be more like a 2 for someone else. I try to always include what I liked about a book (if I finished it, there must be something) but will also say what I did not like. I also always include the caveat that this is just my opinion and others feel differently. So to answer your question, I think it is important that we are honest with those who follow our blog and letting them know that you did not enjoy a book for certain reasons is a good thing.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this, Carla! I’m very much of the mind that every review I post is my own opinion, and I agree that honesty is very important!

  13. I’ve been book blogging for thirteen years now, and this question waxes and wanes. I don’t think there should be such a thing as an entirely positive or entirely negative review–there are good things even about bad books, or books that don’t hit you as a reader and blogger at the right time.

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