Why do I like to read negative book review?
These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section. So, with that out of the way… let the controversy begin!
What made me think about this topic?
Recently, Furrowed Middlebrow posted this tweet:
Is there a 16-syllable German word for the type of person who gives a 1-star Amazon review to a book because the copy they received had greasy fingerprints? pic.twitter.com/Fyn4dxxGG6
— Furrowed Middlebrow (@FurrowedMiddle) July 29, 2021
Obviously, this made me laugh, but as the discussion unfurled, I started to think about those low starred reviews and realized something; I have a confession to make. I actually like reading negative reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.
I get quite a few requests to read and review books from authors I don’t know. I can tell you that sometimes, it is very hard figure out if what I’m being offered is something I will enjoy or not. Yes, there are often clues in the emails I get as to the writing quality. However, I’ve also gotten requests from publicists or other promoters who are just helping this author. That’s why, if possible, I’ll look at sites like Goodreads or Amazon to take a look at what other early readers have said.
Too often than not with some of these lesser known authors, you’ll find a book that has lots and lots of very telegraphic or vague 5/5 star reviews. Some are so glowing, but without hardly any details, that I’m almost certain they were written by friends of the author (and possibly family members, or even paid reviews). There’s no way you can really tell from these types of reviews if the book is as amazing as the ratings would suggest.
That’s why… I really like to look at the negative reviews. Well, not like the ones in that tweet above, but the real ones. I like to see what really bothered other readers, because you see, while those things might have been deal-breakers for others, they might just be the type of thing that will convince me to read that book. And yes, before you ask, it has happened a few times. For example, there was one review of some book where the reviewer thought that there wasn’t enough romance in the story. Well, hey… that is a plus for me! Another reviewer thought that the female character was too self-sufficient and independent and dominated the story. Ahem… with that book, the main character was a woman, so… what exactly were you expecting? I mean, her name was right there in the title!
Mind you, some of these reviews can point out some very serious flaws that might keep me from picking up that book. For example, if the reader notices a significant amount of grammatical errors, or has a problem with poorly used punctuation, I might be a bit put off. Another problem might be the opposite from what I mentioned above – that the story doesn’t focus enough on the main character and that the story wanders too much. Oh, and by the way, sometimes famous authors like to pan another author’s book on a NYT book review. This is often because the reviewing author is about to come out with their own new novel, and they want people to read their book and not the book that they’re reviewing. This has happened so many times that I totally distrust NYT’s book reviews to give us an accurate view of these books, which could very easily be amazing!
So… I sincerely believe that negative reviews can sometimes be more useful than the positive ones. Plus, if the reviewer is being particularly clever, they can just be fun to read.
There you have it – those are the reasons I like to read negative reviews of books!
So… what about you?
Do you read book reviews on sites like Amazon or Goodreads? Do you read the low rated ones or do you just ignore them and only read the ones with high ratings?
This post is my 9th entry in the 2021 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!