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bad reviews aren't a bad thing

i try to be nice. i really do. that doesn't mean i don't think unkind things - just that i try not to voice them too often. this is also true with my book reviews. i am always 100% honest with my reviews, don't get me wrong. but if there is a book i just don't like, or can't finish, i won't write a review. instead, i try to find another outlet for the book - such as another reader, back to the publisher, or to the library.

but then i read this article today from author Justine Larbalestier on her blog that gave me a new perspective on the whole bad review thing...

"You do not have to be nice about a book you hate.
However, I also want to say that it’s not our place to say so. Reviews are not for authors. They’re not even about authors. You do not need our permission to write about our books. Because once they’re published they cease to be ours.
Reviews are for other readers. A review is about a particular reader’s relationship with a particular book. And if you happen to trust that particular reviewer’s taste they’re a great way to find books you want to read or books you should avoid."

she goes on to say other profound, hilarious, and generally awesome things for the rest of the post.
anyway, it totally gave me a fresh perspective on the negative review thing and i wanted to share that with other reviewers/critiquers/bloggers out there.
full article here
i originally found the article through Scott Westerfield's twitter. thanks, technology!
more by Bookshelves of Doom here.

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I think there is a difference between a negative review and a mean-spirited review. I have reviews where the reviewer was basically saying, "whoa - this book was so not my favorite, for these particular reasons" and sometimes I will go on to read the book anyway, because the things some people don't like, are things I like. Or am curious about. Or want to see for myself.

    Here's an example from a discussion we had once. :) You really disliked the main character from The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I am really interested in unlikeable narrators; I think that is such an interesting choice for an author to make. So, I will almost always at least try to book to see how that author handled the choice.

    If you are honest about your reasons for disliking a book - honest and thoughtful (and what else would you be?) - well, I would read that review. And I might check out the book anyway, too. And I would learn more about the points where our reading tastes converge and diverge.

  2. m - i totally agree about the differentiation between negative and mean-spirited.

    on the other extreme, i am super wary and sometimes downright crabby about too many 5 star reviews from one reviewer. i expect a little critical analysis at least.

    i definitely think a reviewer can be honest and easily choose words, phrases, and arguments about a book that are critical without being mean-spirited. some just choose not to!

    and i totally agree that i've checked out books people haven't loved only to fall for them myself! books are neat, that way. :)


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