As 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
Belzhar 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!