I recently wrote a 1 star review that ended with the author sending me a rather violent and vitriol filled letter about all the things wrong with the review and me personally. Among them I was simply uneducated, ignorant, and completely unqualified to review fiction, not to mention it was irresponsible of me not to have read up on Welsh religion or Sin Eater’s prior to reading the book. Now that’s her opinion and perhaps I’d have given it more weight if it wasn’t filled with such hypocritical statements among the ranting but she was pretty upset about the poor review so whatever. I stand by the review and don’t think it’s snarky or bitchy.
But part of her problem was that she felt the review was solely meant to be sensationalist and that got me thinking. Now I didn’t want to write the review of this book – partly because I knew the author was insane and would freak if I didn’t like her book – but also I don’t particularly enjoy writing 1 star reviews. Usually such low ratings means I felt more strongly about the book then perhaps even a 3 star review but still, it’s not a fun experience to list all the problems and things you didn’t like about a book. It’s not fun knowing that someone who worked hard on their creation will maybe read this and be upset. It’s not fun knowing you’re likely to get slammed personally for doing so.
So my question to the audience is two parts.
I’ve always held the belief that you can’t properly appreciate a 5 star review without knowing the entire spectrum. One of the great things about Three Dollar Bill Reviews is the ability to post honest reviews no matter what the rating. A lot of review sites simply won’t post anything below 3 stars so if a review is published; it almost guarantees a positive reception. But this tends to weight books much higher on 5 stars than others so if a high percentage of books are 5 stars, what makes one book any more special than another?
So do 1 star reviews actually tell you, the reader, anything you need to know?
And Part Two:
One of the other problems with writing and publishing the 1 star review was simply I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to write it or publish it. However, I felt since the author sent the book for review and I accepted it, the book then was “owed” an honest review. That’s sort of the quid pro quo of getting a free book in exchange for a review. The stipulation isn’t a “positive” review although no doubt every author is hoping for that. But they simply asked for an honest review. Thus I felt (as did others) that I would not be holding my part of the deal by not writing and publishing my review, even negative.
So what do you think? If a book is submitted for a review, is it owed a review even if it’s bad?
This isn’t to garner support for a negative review I wrote or even to slam the author’s bad behavior. It’s simply to ask a few questions that occurred to me and see what others think.