#LetsDiscuss2021 #9 – Negative Reviews – #DiscussionSunday.

#LetsDiscuss2021 Landscape

Why do I like to read negative book review?

Discussion Sunday 2021


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:

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.

My Thoughts…

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!


26 thoughts on “#LetsDiscuss2021 #9 – Negative Reviews – #DiscussionSunday.

  1. Thought-provoking post and discussion! That tweet is spot-on, but Amazon actually prompts you to rate your overall experience with buying on Amazon and not the product – people simply decide to have that review in that place. I am a believer in and supporter of negative reviews. I truly believe in their value and agree with you that they can be very useful. I penned my fair share of (very) negative reviews on my blog myself, and believe people should express all kinds of opinions, including negative, provided they do not offend, of course, and if well-argued, all the better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Valid point to want to see what people found off putting, however, I see way too many negative reviews that lack supporting details. They come across as rants (which tend to get all the “likes”), and really don’t help me understand what was so bad. Some have been helpful, but most not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed this discussion post Davida! I think negative reviews can be really helpful (and entertaining!) when they’re written well. Whenever I’m hosting my book club meetings I always find some of the best negative reviews for the book and read them out – it’s such a good discussion starter! 📚❤️ X x x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read both positive and negative, it gives me a better idea of whether I think I’ll enjoy the book. And like you, if I only see 5 star reviews I get a bit suss.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do sometimes read the low starred reviews, especially if it’s a book I want to read. I figure there might be something that will resonate with me and I want to be warned.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great discussion post Davida. I do exactly as you do, especially if it’s an author I don’t know. I think that as reviewers ourselves, it’s easy to distinguish a real honest review from the dishonest ones. As you said, some of the negative reviews will make me want to read the book even more!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t often read reviews before reading a book because they are, after all, personal. I sometimes read them after I have read and reviewed a book in order to talk to the people. I do love to read reviews by other bloggers, especially those whose taste I know.

    I love the question for the 16-syllable German word. Nothing springs to mind but I’m sure we can come up with something. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I read negative reviews too yes! Like you said, it’s normally way less biased and you can get a clearer idea if you will like the book or not.

    Clever discussion point!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The one star reviews are often highly amusing and more entertaining than the 5 star ones. I hadn’t thought about looking on GR to help make a decision about whether to accept a review copy. Interesting idea – if I am not sure, then I usually request a sample so I can at least tell if the writing style is to my taste.

    I had a book by an African author years ago that was just dire. on Goodreads it had a 5 star review which made me suspicious. I found it was the author using a different name!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I always feel a bit guilty if I write a negative review myself, but, if the spelling and punctuation are very poor, or the book’s full of historical inaccuracies, I’d rather know about it before I spend money on a book I won’t enjoy. Reviews on Amazon can be awkward because there’s no way of posting a review of their service separately from the review of the book – obviously it wasn’t the author’s fault that the book was covered in greasy fingerprints, but the buyer was still entitled to be annoyed about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes I always look at the 3* and 2* reviews for a book to find out the nitty gritty parts of the book. As long as the review is still constructive and doesn’t trash the book, I often find these lower star rated reviews more reliable tham 5* ones which say it is a ‘page-turner’ or a ‘must-read’ without backing up those claims.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, I do read reviews on Amazon and I also look at the negative or lower star reviews for the same reason you do Davida. What someone disliked, might be what I would like. I think it is terrible that someone would give a low star review because their cover had fingerprints, but I have seen this. I wonder what happens when the review is not about the actual content of the book, but the quality of the binding, pages etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I really want to kn ow that 16-syllable German word now!

    I always read the negative reviews on GR! I usually skim over the reviews of my reading buddies first, as that gives me a fair idea if the book might be my cup of tea or not. Then I read the first few other listed reviews. And then I read a few of the really bad reviews. I think that gives me a pretty good impression of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love this discussion. Yes, I always read the lower rated reviews first. I want to know right away what the complaints are against a book. Like you, they are many times not negatives for me. I mostly balance them with the good reviews to get a feel for the book before I agree to accept it.

    The hardest requests for me are the indie authors looking for their first reviews. You can never be sure what you are going to get with them. However, I usually take the gamble and if I truly can’t read it, I’ll let them know as gently as possible that I am not the right reader for their book.

    I discovered one of my favorite books of all time by taking a chance on an indie author!

    Liked by 1 person

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