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Writing a negative review

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So…you’ve just finished a book and reading it was more like a chore you didn’t want to carry out (for me that’s washing up), than something you enjoyed.

What do you do? Do you tell the truth? Do you highlight every single thing that you didn’t like about it? Do you mention all the failings with character and plot? Or do you say nothing? Do you ignore the request for a review and simply pick up the next book on your list and hope that it is better than the one you’ve just closed for the final time?

This is actually a dilemma I have experienced recently. I am on a few so-called ‘book bitches’ lists where I get ARCs from new authors and read them in order to give them a review boost before release. I have been reading this one particular author for a while and her first few books were original, interesting and the characters were the sort you could imagine enjoying a few drinks with, in a classy cocktail bar.

Unfortunately, the last few books I have read haven’t been ones that I have really enjoyed reading. I have pushed through in the hope that they would get better, that the endings would be less than predictable, that the characters would be interesting. So…what was I meant to say when the author personally contacted me to ask me how I liked the book?

See, here’s the dilemma. On my podcast, I am nothing but honest. If I don’t like something then I will go through the reasons why, whatever they might be.

However, some people are understandably sensitive about their creations and they have every right to be. Writing a book is hard, starting it is difficult enough, but the fact that these authors manage to type those two incredible words ‘The End’ is even more so. It can be a hard slog, so who am I to take that achievement away from them?

How do you handle this when it comes to writing a review you actually volunteered to write?

In honesty, it’s not easy, but it is manageable.

When it comes to writing a review that the authors have requested I start by finding the slivers of sunshine in amongst the grey clouds. I am not going to sugarcoat it if I actually struggled to finish the book, but at the same time, I am not going to be a total b*tch about it.

No book is 100% bad, just as no film is completely dreadful. There are bound to be a few nice things to pick out and highlight while remaining true to myself. 

It’s incredibly difficult to balance my need to be completely honest when it comes to my reviews while also ensuring that I am not dismissing any of the effort that went into creating what I didn’t like.

It’s important to remember that while I am sharing my opinion, it is exactly that, my opinion. Not everyone likes the same things and what’s one person’s poop is another’s platinum.

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