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Monday, March 29, 2010

Negative Reviews

This week is going to be Tough Subject Week here at Writer's Chasm. I'm going to say things that I feel need to be said. There will be people that agree with me and people that don't. Varying opinions are encouraged. As long as you're opinion is valid and can actually be supported in a debate. No, I won't be discussing health care. You don't want to hear me talk about that.

Today, we'll be discussing negative reviews of books.

A lot of people seem to subscribe to the theory "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" when it comes to book reviews. But WHY? There are always things that can be improved in books. Sometimes there are truly horrible books.

What's so wrong about saying you don't like a book and explaining why? There's a difference between flaming a book and giving it a less-than-glowing review. There's nothing wrong with giving a book a bad review. Critics do it ALL. THE. TIME. If you can't take criticism, learn.

Reasons NOT to give a negative review:
- you don't like the author
- you haven't actually read it
- you're having a bad day

Reasons TO give a negative review:
- you want to point out the issues in a book in a tactful way

There are times that I wish I had actually given a book that I didn't really like a "bad" review. There were things I liked about the book, but then again there were things I didn't like. I always try to have a combination of good and bad things for every review I do. Because every book does have something that can be fixed.

Then there are the books that have huge followings (*coughcough* Twilight *cough*) that you almost can't say anything bad about. They have such huge followings that critiquing them is considered "bad." It's like everyone gets mad at you because you're critiquing something wildly popular.

"You're just jealous."

"It's just YA."

"You're taking it too seriously."

I'm NOT just jealous. It's NOT just YA. YA is some of the best literature out there and saying "it's just YA" is why YA often as a bad rap associated with being not up to par with adult literature. And we're NOT taking it too seriously. We do it because although we read for enjoyment, we also critique for a reason. It's possible to do both at the same time. Because without bad books, we wouldn't know what a great book truly is.

The point of the story is, negative reviews are a good thing. We CAN'T just have good reviews of everything. It's like the news. If all they do is show an issue in a good light and share the advantages and benefits of it, everyone's going to think it's this great thing. They're only sharing ONE side of the story. You need to have the other side of the story to balance it out so everyone can make an informed decision.

If I didn't make any sense, PMN also has a post on the subject.

So don't get mad when someone shares a less-than-glowing review of something. Everyone is ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION. Even if it's different than yours. Open your mind, listen to everyone, you don't have to agree.

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