Writing a Negative Book Review

Speaking & Writing Chinese Class

Confession: I like reading snarky negative book reviews especially when it’s laced with humour. However, I don’t like writing negative book reviews.

When we started our blog, we were only going to review books we liked and would recommend, but my good friend advised that it would be better to give our honest opinions about any books we read. Besides, we also started getting review requests so we could no longer escape writing negative book reviews.

The easiest negative book reviews to write are “this book was a waste of my time” or “don’t bother with this book, it’s boring…” Yet, these don’t tell the reader or author much. So, whilst it works for some, it doesn’t work for me. I think if you are going to leave a negative book review, then it’s worth stating what you don’t like about the book, even if it’s only a couple of sentences. It’s also helpful to point out what, if anything, worked in the book.

We are aware of how much effort some authors put into writing their books. But we don’t think that should deter us from giving our honest opinions on the books we’ve read. In the end, we hope members of our community and indeed, the authors find our opinions useful.

Do you write negative book reviews? How do you feel about writing them? Let’s talk in the comments section.

11 replies

  1. Excellent topic! I don’t like writing negative reviews or book bashing, but I do like to share my honest opinions. It’s very difficult, isn’t it? Especially when someone asks you to read their book, but honesty is best and I agree with your friend. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Writing negative reviews can be hard. And you are doing a tremendous job.

    Like you said, writing “this book is trash” or “this is a total waste of time” isn’t the best way to approach writing negative reviews.

    I always start with positives, even if the book is indeed trash. There must be something positive about the author if not the book.

    For example if a book is a one star, I’ll write something like . This author attempted to tackle a topic that is usually very hard to, and that’s admirable, however, he/she failed to…

    Or There have been some positive reviews by other readers about this book, but i’m Not one of them. I didn’t get the way the author or characters…

    It’s a kind of feedback strategy I’ve been learning called the pendulum approach. What do you think went well, what do you think went badly, what would you change.

    This is because, no matter how badly you hate a book, there’s someone who would love it tremendously.

    So, your opinion should always be honest, but brutal honesty may not a,ways be the best way.
    Artists’ egos are fragile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And I totally agree, no matter how much one hates a book, someone else may love it and you’re left wondering… wait what?! It pays to remember that reviews are opinions. Also, that someone is behind the work being reviewed.

      Like

  3. Tough one. I wrote a negative movie review, though I understand it’s much different for books as the author might take it personal. Still, I think it’s necessary, as long as the review is constructive; the author will actually benefit from it the most. Plus they’d probably get positive reviews from someone else because of how diverse our interests are.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “This is because, no matter how badly you hate a book, there’s someone who would love it tremendously.” Comment by Obiamakaazie, here

    The comment above is very true. I always think that one should be very careful when it comes to reviewing books, literary criticism and the like. Worldwide, critics would disagree in opposite lines/perspectives on merits or demerits of a work. We know Wole Soyinka is one of the best writers in the world, yet he has an army of critics who delight in pulling his works down. Even William Shakespeare, world’s best ever, has never been untouchable, I remember reading somewhere that a critic said about him: “Our (English) language sunk under him”!! . Another problem is that we all have our pet themes….call me ruthless if you wish, but I for one dislike any works on Romance!! For decades.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, we all have genres we prefer. I don’t like science fiction, fantasy or young adult books. So it’s understandable that you are not a fan of romance which I love. Sometimes, a book is just really poorly written, at other times, it’s just a matter of taste and preferences. Reviews are subjective.

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