Why Bad Reviews Don’t Mean Regrets

Posted February 26, 2015 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Discussions / 24 Comments

discussionmasterAs a book blogger, negative reviews are ultimately something that are going to wind up on my blog. Not every book is going to click with me, and I’m very upfront how I feel about what I read. My reviewing guidelines for books is to always be honest while being respectful. I don’t trash talk authors, and if a book overwhelmingly didn’t work for me but there were still elements I liked, I am sure to mention the good and the bad aspects. Writing negative reviews is inevitable, and usually isn’t fun for the blogger to write or for the author to read.  Yet I find that though I may dislike certain books and give them an overall low rating, I usually do not regret reading them.

Why I Don’t Regret Reading Books I Ended Up Not Loving

Now, I usually don’t pick up books that I purposely will not enjoy, but sometimes (often due to hype, not clicking with the writing style, not empathizing with the characters, etc) I read books that I rate “low.” For me, low ratings are 1-2.5 stars, as I consider a 3 star book to be a solid book, perhaps with some issues, that I enjoyed (I know 3 star ratings vary from good to bad depending on the reviewer). I rarely rate books 1 star because I tend to DNF them/not pick them up in the first place, but often times I will read a book I’m really HOPING to like that ends up being 2 stars, meaning I enjoyed the idea of the book but it failed in its execution to impress me as a reader. Why don’t I regret the time I spent reading 2-star books? Because they often contain certain elements, ideas, themes, or plot devices that drew me to them in the first place that I still enjoyed while reading the book, even if the entire text didn’t impress me. Oftentimes I will also read a book and not particularly enjoy the storyline or content, but I will enjoy the author’s writing style, and it leads me to pick up another book by that author that I end up immensely enjoying.

Books I Rated Lower But Don’t Regret Reading

badreviewsnotregretsBelzhar was a book I was extremely curious about, as it dealt with mental illness, magical realism, and my favorite poet. Yet it fell extremely flat on delivering all of these elements, and the big reveal at the end of the book felt like a joke. However, it’s the only YA book I’ve come across that has a story influenced by the works of Sylvia Plath, my favorite poet, and I am grateful that I was able to read a novel influenced by her poetry and personal life.

The Darkest Part of the Forest was a big letdown for me, because most other bloggers had rated it highly and I really want to love Holly Black. While I felt the plot was slow and the characters lacked depth, I’m glad I read it because it had wonderful and whimsical world building and I loved the folk-tale feeling of Black’s writing, which has me determined to try another one of her works.

Let It Snow had three short stories that varied wildly in quality.Though the second story annoyed me with its sexist and pretentious undertones and the third story felt shallow, I am forever grateful I purchased a copy because the short story”The Jubilee Express” by Maureen Johnson was one of the most laugh-out-loud holiday stories I’ve ever read.

I Was Here was a hard one for me to rate, and I gave it a 3-star review despite it not being as compelling as many other 3-star rated books I’ve read. However, there was just something raw and striking about Gayle Forman’s writing that stuck with me despite the lackluster plot, and I’m so glad it encouraged me to give her another chance because I just finished Just One Day and it was utterly amazing.

Sometimes It’s About The Journey, Not The Destination

As cliché as that phrase is, I find it’s often the truth about books I don’t fall in love with. Since most books I choose to read have some element I’m drawn too, I’m able to find either some enjoyment, insightful ideas, or interesting themes from reading it, even if the overall plot falls flat or the ending is lackluster. I’m grateful for the experience of many of the books I rated 2-stars, as they help me in either steering me toward or away from certain topics, authors, and genres, and that’s why I rarely tell people NOT to read a certain book, because there could be something there for them that wasn’t for me. Therefore, I’m honest in saying while I may occasionally rate books lower, rarely do I regret reading them. Amidst all of the internet drama that crops up due to authors/bloggers reacting to bad reviews/behavior, I think it’s important to remember that there’s a difference between not enjoying a book and regretting reading it, and readers can still take away elements they like/appreciate from a book without rating it highly.

What About You?

Do you find that when you write negative reviews the book was a waste of your time? Are there 1 or 2-Star books that you enjoyed reading, but rated lower because of specific plot/character issues? Was there ever a book you rated/reviewed negatively and ended up either liking its sequel or another book by that same author? Is there a book you rated negatively but had themes you appreciated or enjoyed? Do you try to point out the good points of books you didn’t love or do you like to get snarky and sassy in your reviews? Let me know in the comments!

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24 responses to “Why Bad Reviews Don’t Mean Regrets

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head with regretting vs disliking. I’ve never regretted reading a book before but I’ve definitely disliked some. If I’m really, really not into a book I stop reading it before it becomes an issue.
    Generally when it comes to my reviews, if I like a book but don’t enjoy a certain aspect of it I rate it 3/5 stars (then give it a Goodreads tag so I remember why I didn’t love it). If I dislike a majority of the protagonists and lots of plot elements, it’s going to get less than 2 stars.
    But just because I didn’t like something doesn’t mean others wouldn’t. So when I write my concluding statements on my reviews, I explain why I didn’t like it but suggest who would like it.
    I liked your question about rating one book negatively but loving its sequel. That’s part of the reason why I created my blog to review whole series because I can endure a crappy start novel if the subsequent books are amazing (everything’s got to start somewhere). But it’s hard to gauge a whole series when people only review one book at a time (if they even pick up the sequels). A few examples that come to mind for me personally is the Maze Runner Series (book 2 was awesome, the others not so much) and the On Dublin Street Series (I didn’t connect with the first couple at all but loved the other characters).

    • I like to give authors the “two-book try” before I write them off as disliking them, especially because series quality can very SO MUCH from book to book (for example, a lot of series I like have weaker second installments- it’s funny that you mentioned the second book is the strongest in the maze runner series!) And you’re totally right, everything does have to start somewhere, which is why I try not to author bash- because every book, regardless of whether or not I like it, is the product of someone else’s dream and hard work!

  2. How do you pick a book to review? I’ve only done 4. Two of which are from our read-a-thon. I do mini review type things for top ten Tuesday and wrap-ups. Just want to do a full one and no idea how to start! New blogger problem for sure… =

    • I pretty much review everything I read for pleasure. The only exception is older books that I don’t think most readers are still interested in, and re-reads, although even for those I will usually do mini reviews. I basically just do a review every time I finish a book! It can be time consuming though, so if you can only review a few I’d choose newer releases, books by notable authors, or books that have themes that you want to discuss in a deeper manner- readers will want to read reviews on books that are popular and that you are passionate about!

  3. I totally agree, I never regret any book I read even if it ends up being a low rating for me. If I can’t. Enjoy a book I end up putting it down anyway to find a different book! I think all books are worth having a read of even if there are some not-so-good reviews. The thing about not so good reviews is that other readers can far it into account when they go to read, say a really hyped up book for example. I loved your post!

    • There are definitely some books that I’ve loved that a lot of people have rated poorly on Goodreads, so I DO try to take ratings with a grain of salt (and sometimes the opposite happens, and a book gets GREAT reviews and it just doesn’t click with me!)

  4. 0shetalkstorainbows0

    Completely agree! most books I read I do end up liking and I would even say I give out higher star ratings quite easily. However, sometiems a book just doesn’t live up to my expectations, for whatever reason, or maybe it was something new and different I wanted to try and it ended up not being for me.
    I definitely don’t regret reading those books though, when I do finish a book, I do get something out of it, even if that something might be that a certain genre isn’t really for me, or that maybe that book wasn’t for me, but because of it i discover something else that I do love etc.

    • Exactly! You’re always taking a risk when trying something new (whether it be a new genre, topic, type of narrator, etc) and there are plenty of 2-star books that were by no means BAD books, they just didn’t work for me!

  5. Hiii, new follower! :3
    This was such a nice post! There are some books that I actually regret reading, or I regret “forcing” myself to read them when I didn’t want but not necessarily the books I rated lower.
    There are books I have 3 or 2 stars to that I still enjoyed reading and don’t regret even though they weren’t exactly special or didn’t blow my mind 🙂

    Ps. If you’d like to, stop by my blog and say hi <3
    Frannie @ In clouds of pages

    • Thanks for the follow! I think regretting forcing yourself to read/finish a book is really different than regretting one you finished because you actually wanted to see it through! I usually tend to DNF books rather than force my way through them, and subsequently tend to DNF within the first 100 pages if I’m not clicking with the book (I think that’s a fair point to decide the book is not for me!)

  6. Agreed! I don’t regret a 2-star book, because in the end I still finished it, so there had to be something to keep me entertained 🙂 If I really wouldn’t have liked the book I would have DNF-ed it and I’m pretty easy with that, so I don’t mind that the book ended as a 2-star review.

    • I’ve really learned to not be afraid to DNF since I started blogging and reviewing most of what I read (because it’s not just about forcing yourself to finish something you don’t like, but then you have to write about it too!) I tend to DNF at or before 100 pages. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  7. I agree with your cliched phrase!! I don’t regret reading those books that I rate low either. Unless they truly upset me and then maybe I feel like I wasted my time, but not always. I have decided to do the give the author a two book try thing as well because there have been a couple where I really didn’t like one book by the author but loved another!! You just never know. A lot of times it isn’t necessarily the writing but the story itself that makes me not like a book as much.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Some plots just don’t work well for me (which was the case with Gayle Forman’s I Was Here- it just didn’t feel super convincing) but she’s such an amazing writer I’m so glad I gave her another chance!

  8. I don’t regret it either. Even if I didn’t really like the book because of whatever reason, there’s always something about it that stays in my mind, something it taught me or something I haven’t seen in other books before.
    I don’t like to give bad reviews because I know the author put a lot of effort on the book but, sometimes, I just don’t manage to connect with the plot or with the world within the story.

    I recently discovered your blog and I’m enjoying it so far! So, I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award 🙂 . If you fancy being taking part of it, visit the following link to learn what is it about: I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award

    A Lazy Bookworm

    • Thanks so much for the follow and tag! I actually just recently participated in the Versatile Blogger Award, but I’m always honored by nominations!

      I won’t refrain from giving a negative review, but there are definitely certain limits I don’t believe in crossing (such as author bashing! It’s unfair and unclassy) and I try to be as fair as possible, so if the book did have some funny/interesting/entertaining/creative aspects, even if I didn’t like it as a whole, I mention them in my review! Very rarely have I come across a book where NOTHING worked for me!

  9. don’t regret it either. Even if I didn’t really like the book because of whatever reason, there’s always something about it that stays in my mind, something it taught me or something I haven’t seen in other books before.
    I don’t like to give bad reviews because I know the author put a lot of effort on the book but, sometimes, I just don’t manage to connect with the plot or with the world within the story.

    I recently discovered your blog and I’m enjoying it so far! So, I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award 🙂 . If you fancy being taking part of it, visit the following link to learn what is it about: I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award

    A Lazy Bookworm

  10. Okay, confession time… sometimes I purposefully read a book that every one tells me is terrible just to see 1. whether or not I think it’s terrible and 2. to see how terrible it is. I’m always needing variety in my reviews and when you rate everything 3 stars or higher, things tend to get boring, you know? Sometimes I just need a terrible book to break the streak and remind me of my reviewing scale. I try to read 100 pages into a book (that isn’t a R&R book) and if I still hate it, I’ll put it down but I’ll actually take some pleasure in rating in 1 star. Maybe that’s terrible of me but I feel so relieved! Great post!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    • I defintiely see the appeal in reading a book that many others rant about to see if you hate it too…but I think regretting that sort of read is REALLY different that regretting something you picked up with the personal intention of WANTING to read it! It certainly breaks up the monotony (and makes you appreciate books you loved way more) to read a 1 or 2 star book, although I usually don’t rate DNF books. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  11. I agree, even when I’m not crazy about a book I rarely regret actually reading it. It has to be pretty bad or a really poor pick on my part for that to happen! I mean there’s usually something I can draw from a book I didn’t love, especially since, as you point out, there must have been something there initially that drew me to it.

    I tend to try to find the positives in a review, I’m not one to snark too much because I wouldn’t want to hurt an author’s feelings. I get snarkier with movie/ TV reviews but for books I play it pretty straight, after all I want to support authors not run them down. And I have occasionally found an author where one book didn’t work for me but another has- so yeah you never know. 🙂

    Oh and I’m curious about that holiday short story now!

    • I definitely understand this! I really try not to be snarky in my negative reviews because the author obviously worked had on their book, and I think it’s cheap when people take shots at the author. Especially with debuts, often times their writing gets loads better with their subsequent books-everyone has to start somewhere!

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