I’ve noticed a trend within the Twitter writing/reading community where people are actively discouraged or actively avoid writing negative reviews on books they read.
To some extent, I get it. No one wants to see a negative review of their book. But at what point does negative intersect with honesty? Does only living in a positive bubble of good reviews actually help the author and the book community at large?
If someone honestly didn’t like something I wrote for a valid reason (aka not just because they hate me), then I’d want to know why. If there’s something I overlooked or a section that would’ve packed a better punch if I’d gone at it a different way, then I’d like to know.
But that’s just me.
I think one reason for this attitude of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” is that people sometimes go at negative reviews from a very aggressive position. Things get nasty. Feelings get hurt. It’s unproductive and sucks.
Books have been pulled from publication or ruined because of people dog piling negative reviews.
But that’s a different issue that I’m not going to delve into right now.
From my point of view, if a review is honest in a thoughtful and constructive way and doesn’t get nasty about it, then it’s fine to write a negative review. But the key is being kind and thoughtful when writing about what you didn’t like.
Art is subjective and not everyone is going to like everything. A reader might be saved from reading a book they just won’t like because someone with similar tastes left an honest review.
The literary world needs balance and negative reviews serve a purpose.
Now, I’m not usually one to write long reviews for books unless it’s struck me in someway, but I have written what would be considered “negative” reviews. I don’t shy away from being honest, but I focus on constructive things and go into explain why I may not have liked something.
But even if I didn’t like it, someone might read my review and think maybe they’ll like it or read it just to see if what I’m saying is true. So it’s more publicity for the writer.
We’re all adults here, or most of us are, we can find a way to be respectful when giving our opinions. Even if it’s that we didn’t like something. But cutting out negative reviews all together does nothing but convince the rest of us that positivity is the only valuable opinion.