Earlier this year I wrote a post about whether 1 star reviews are valuable. I had published a 1 star review and the author vehemently disagreed with both the review and the purpose so I asked what others thought. At the time the consensus was generally that 1 star reviews, while not always nice, as long as they’re honest without the intent to mock/sensationalize have a purpose. Readers and even authors claim that the 1 star reviews make a balanced review site and deserve their time in the sun, regardless of ensuing wank/dramafest.
I’ve long held that belief and to be honest the 1 star books are thankfully far and few between. Usually these tend to be DNFs so you don’t get to the end to write the 1 star negativity filled reviews. Not to mention reviewers are first and foremost readers so we choose books we want to read and hopefully like. Unfortunately I recently read a book that has absolutely no redeeming qualities. I can’t find one positive thing to say about this book and it also angers me because it feels like the author and publisher put no effort into the book. In fact the review I wrote (but haven’t published yet) is over 1,000 words and carefully written to be honest without being cruel. It’s a vastly negative review make no mistake and it comes close to eviscerating the poor story.
So when I asked on twitter “What happens when you find absolutely nothing positive about a book. Should you even review it?” I got a plethora of responses. Some said yes, be honest. Some said they wouldn’t. In fact a vast majority of the book readers/reviewers claimed they wouldn’t do the review themselves. These are the same intelligent, articulate, honest individuals that I count on when I read their reviews about books. Yet the overwhelming majority simply said they’d opt out.
So the impression I got was the 1 star reviews are worthwhile but no one wants to subject themselves to the inevitable backlash from doing them. It’s one thing if the review is mocking or clearly meant to be humorous, those tend to get a lot of positive feedback from readers. But I don’t ever write reviews meant to demean or mock a book or the author. No matter how much I hate the book, I think that’s just mean no matter how funny the reviewer may be (and I’ve read some incredibly clever, witty, and hilarious reviews but they’re still mean).
So I’m left in a bit of a quandary. Are reviewers afraid to be honest, if it’s very negative? If so, doesn’t that mean it’s more important than ever for those 1 star reviews to see the light of day? Or do we rely on whispered comments, emails that say “I won’t publically say this but that book sucked ass. Don’t read it!” and so on to avoid the drama and being seen as mean.
I’m curious to hear what people have to say – including authors, readers, reviewers.
If indeed 1 star reviews are worthwhile, what is the best action to avoid the drama?
Also if 1 star reviews are worthwhile, reviewers shouldn’t be afraid to post their honest reviews.