I feel I have to say my part on negative reviews because I may be the only person who hasn’t.
First of all, I would like to discuss the term ‘negative review’, because I don’t feel it’s entirely accurate. Reviewers don’t want to write ‘negative reviews’ because they don’t want to upset anybody and they feel uncomfortable being mean. And that is fine! Don’t write negative reviews, by all means, I’m against them myself. All they do is breed misery and turn people away from books that they may have enjoyed and that is not the point in being a book blogger, is it? A negative review will often point out the flaws of the book and the author’s writing style with little to no positive reinforcement and on occasion may even border on being downright mean. That is not cool.
On the other hand we have positive reviews. These can work, but it really depends how you go about them. There are many bloggers who will write a review avoiding any negativity and thus any chance of conflict. I, personally, disagree with this method of writing reviews because they’re not helping readers, who are just as important as the authors they’re trying not to hurt. Though, saying that, if this is your method, it isn’t wrong, it just isn’t as helpful as you might think.
So then if negative reviews are bad and positive reviews aren’t the way, what’s left? This is where the critical review comes in. A critical review is most importantly honest about what the reviewer may not have enjoyed but balances it with what they did enjoy and tells people fairly what is wrong and right with the book, allowing readers to make their own decision on whether or not to give it a read themselves based on the flaws. For example, if a review tells me that the writing style in a novel is flat but the story is good, then I won’t read it unless I see several otherwise positive reviews saying otherwise. However, if a review tells me that they couldn’t enjoy the book because it was too descriptive but the characters were quite enjoyable, then I might still try to read it sometime because whereas they might not, I quite enjoy descriptive novels and that is all down to personal taste, which is the crux of being a book blogging reviewer really, isn’t it? Never think that being a reviewer means that you can’t include opinions and personality, because sometimes that’s all it takes to help somebody make a decision. Just remember to be fair.
Think of it this way. If an author reads a negative review of their book it is going to hurt them. Yes, it’s inevitably going to happen but do remember that they are people too. However, if they read a critical review, then they can take something constructive away with them. Critical reviews can give an author advice which can hopefully help them to improve future novels, whilst also taking away the sense that you were fair and not attacking them. Not only that, but your readers and any publicists will most likely like your reviews a little more.
At the end of the day, this is a book blogging community. We’re here to discuss a love of books, not a hatred of them, so why be negative? I honestly believe that ‘negative’ is the wrong word to use in most cases and we should be focused more on being fair but critical.
What do you guys think? Leave your thoughts in the comments!