The Bad Review

Goodreads, more than Amazon or Barnes and Noble seems to be the go to place for reviews. I’m not really sure why that it. Is it easier to post? Maybe. But it seems to me that Goodreads reviewers are a little more free with their opinions than others are.

I DON’T read my reviews. I did. When the first few started to roll in I did. Of course! What newly published writer doesn’t want the world to know what they have to say about their baby? But I have stopped reading them. Even the glowing ones, unless somebody sends them directly to me. Why? Because something about them even the good ones always bugs me, crawls under my skin until I can’t think of anything else but what that person has said.

It’s the reader’s right to criticize a book. America is the land of free speech. People have lost their lives to give us that right, but sometimes it seems that people are being too free with their words and not enough with their thoughts.

I was on Goodreads about to rate a book by an author I have met and read and liked, but when I scrolled through the reviews I spotted a one star rating. And the first line of the review said, “I F&^king hated this book.” I read on in horror as this person tore the book to shreds. It was ruthless and just plain mean. I can understand not liking a book. I can understand being frustrated with an author, but being so ruthless is not cool. When I looked at the other reviews by this person I noticed a theme. It was like she took joy in ripping people apart. It was like she couldn’t find a single positive thing to say about anybody.

It made me feel sad for her. That her life was so devoid of joy the only way she could find happiness was gleefully ripping somebody else’s work to shreds. Most of you here are writers so you know how hard it is to write a book. How much work and blood and pain goes into the process. Knowing that I would NEVER rip an author like that, even if I didn’t like their book.

It seems to me that those type of reviewers forget that authors are real people, with real feelings, who work very hard at what they do. It just doesn’t sit right with me. If you can’t leave a thoughtful, concise review without swearing and tearing the author to shreds then just don’t leave one.

What do you all think about this? Is okay to rip some one apart?

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6 thoughts on “The Bad Review”

  1. No matter how much I hate a book, I have never, and would never, flame anyone in a review, even though I acknowledge anybody’s right to leave a one or two star review. However, if someone does leave that kind of rating, I would hope s/he would lay out some honest, kindly worded reasons for the low score. Granted, as an author I’m looking at this from a different perspective and I just don’t leave reviews if I can’t give something an honest 4 or 5. But flaming someone just for the fun of it? That’s bad karma–and that sort of negative energy, like a rubber band, has a way of stretching just so far before it snaps back and hits you in the face. Leaving a big red welt that you have to explain to everyone.

  2. I agree with Suze. Unless I can give a book an honest 4 or 5 star rating, I simply won’t review it.

    I still read my reviews and get a kick out of it every time, good (thankfully mostly good), and even the few bad reviews I’ve seen let me into the minds of readers. Sometimes, I even find the feedback useful. If someone says something ridiculous, though, or feels the need to spew hate, it’s easy for me to ignore as I consider the source and recognize that they are clearly just out to spread negativity. And as Suze says, this will always come back to bite them in the end.

    I’ve actually heard of writers pulling their books down from being published over hateful reviews and cyber bullying that goes on in the “review world.” Goodreads, specifically, has gotten a reputation for harsh reviews and gang-style attacks on authors. Not sure why they are congregating there, but it’s sad nonetheless. Since reviews are both subjective and anonymous, it’s easy for anyone and everyone to voice their opinion, If it bugs you, don’t read them. But realize that the review process is how people find books these days. Reviews are the new gatekeepers, and even more than big name reviewers like PW and Kirkus, readers are paying attention to what other readers say about books. Hopefully, they are savvy and discerning enough to see those mean reviews as nothing more than someone’s attempt to feel better about themselves by bashing other people.

  3. Suger I wouldn’t take this reviewer seriously, for three reasons. 1. Books I do not like – I never finish reading. There are several books I have tried to read for the umpteenth time but can’t finish. 2. My Mother taught me if you can’t say at least one thing good, keep your mouth shut. 3. When I’m buying a book it’s usually because I like the author, or the book been personally recommend to me by a friend. So I never read the bad reviews when purchasing a book. Bad reviews never give me any information I can use to help me decide if I want to buy a particular book. Because a bad review only shows me the reviewer didn’t enjoy that author and or subject matter.

  4. I think those 1 star reviews get little attention except for a good laugh. Me, I love good reviews and I also love thoughtful, negative ones too. It makes me happy that someone cared enough to share their thoughts. Readers, especially on Goodreads, seem pretty absorbed in their favorite authors, genres, and books. I think that’s why they sometimes get the reputation of going overboard. I still enjoy Goodreads though. I’ve often bought a book because of a GR review.

  5. I still read reviews – the good ones make me smile, but I’ve learned to take the few bad ones with a grain of salt. Typically, they are just a matter of taste – e.g.’it was well written but I didn’t enjoy it’ or a ‘travesty’ because of the love scenes. One of the funniest was ‘I read it all the way through but didn’t enjoy it.’ I wanted to say, “Honey, if you didn’t enjoy it, why did you read it all the way through?! And then take the time to formulate and post a review?” Sometimes, I just shake my head at the silly things people say and do.
    But I agree that profanity and personal attacks have no place in a review – they make the reviewer and the site look unprofessional.

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