Revisiting Bad Reviews

I know I’ve talked about bad reviews before, but I am still curious about what other people think. When you see a book that you think might be interesting, do you always look at the reviews? And if so, does seeing multiple bad reviews set you off even if there is an equal amount of good reviews? I mean, my favorite book, The Historian, has plenty of bad reviews but I love it. I find that I am trusting negative reviews less and less because they seem to be less constructive (not all of them) and more just plain angry and aggressive.

When I see reviews that are angry and whiny, I just skip right over them and almost want to enjoy the book even more just to prove them wrong. Very silly, I know. But ever once in a while I will come across a negative review that is solid. I also find myself more put off by content of a book rather than if people don’t like the author’s particular writing style. I, personally, have never come across a writing style that I’ve hated, because to me a writing style is a very personal thing and it shows me the real differences between different authors. Wow, I’m rambling. Anyway! My point was, do you often read or not read books based on the negative reviews?

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14 thoughts on “Revisiting Bad Reviews

  1. I also find that I distrust negative reviews when it comes to most books. It’s fascinating to read the book reviewed and try to see what it is exactly that pushed people’s buttons. Isn’t that the point of a book, to intrigue the reader? If it begs a response positive or negative I think it’s done what it meant to do. Personally I find in many, but not all cases, I lean more to wanting to read a book if somebody gets in a fit over it.

    • Absolutely! I rarely leave a negative review, because if I don’t enjoy a book, I simply don’t finish it, but that doesn’t mean that the author did a terrible job, it just means that I did not like the book. The only time I’m ever angry about a book is when I’m surprised by some awful content, because then I’m usually disturbed for a while. 😛

  2. I definitely agree with the whole finding a lot of negative reviews just ranting. So the author made decisions that particular reader didn’t like, doesn’t mean the book is terrible.
    The only time I read reviews before I read the book is if I’m trying to make up my mind if I want to read it or not, or if I’m pretty sure I won’t read it, so negative reviews don’t really put me off reading something. If there’s a lot of ranting, I am more likely to pick up the book so see why.

  3. I read reviews sometimes, but usually I make my book decisions based on the cover and the summary. If they look interesting, I’ll try out the book. The one time I do focus on reviews is for self-published books — and that’s just because there isn’t that “quality assurance” check when you self-publish. I don’t necessarily look for whether or not people liked the book, more just technical stuff — if the reviews mention it’s poorly edited, for example, I’ll bypass the book because that sort of thing really drives me up the wall when I read.

  4. Good question, I also read (but not necessarily listen to) reviews and actually often pay more attention to the negative than positive ones. The reason is that every popular book has a target audience and can get very high scores and perfect reviews from this audience alone. Reading the negative reviews and seeing why people dislike a book can help me decide whether these negative points are likely to disappoint me too or not.
    Having said that, the one thing I always read before starting a book is its first sentence!

    • I agree completely. Recently I decided to start reading Beautiful Creatures to see what all the hype is about. There were a few negative reviews that I found helpful, but I’m still reading to make up my own mind.

  5. One of the problems/challenges is if you are a member of something like Amazon Vine. You are now required to write a review for every item received. In the past, there was a percentage (75% and later 80%) which could be left unread. So……….I would not review those which in my mind were turkeys – generally because I had abandoned them early. Why would you want to spend MORE time reading something you loathed/ Unfortunately, HAVING to review everything brings out annoyed irritation. In order to write that negative review explaining exactly why you think the book is bad, means you really need to pay attention and read it closely. And even if your review is ‘this is so bad I couldn’t bear to finish it’ you do rather need to explain why.

    I don’t distrust negative reviews – and sometimes, a well argued negative review can be like a debate for me – it may be that the reviewer says I don’t like this because it is full of description – and they might quote an example – now it might be that example which enables me to realise ‘hey, I like this writer’s descriptive style’

    What I DO distrust though is the reviewer who ONLY seems to review what they dislike – that to me indicates a certain mean-mindedness of spirit.

    I also get ARCs from NetGalley, who at least DON’T require everything to be reviewed, so when i find a turkey and really can’t bear to spend any more reading time with it, I tend to send an email to the publishers explaining exactly why I WON’T be reviewing it – I use my blog to only review what I’m recommending, rather than what I’m scathing, hence nothing below 4 stars exists on the blog

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