Why Negative Reviews Aren’t Necessarily Bad Reviews

I’ve seen some posts around lately about people wondering if it’s kinder to not leave a review at all than one that is less than favourable. 


Negative reviews ARE NOT personal attacks against the story or the author. They are not slanderous or cruel nor are they offensive. I’ve read those types of reviews and I think they’re not value adding. You don’t have to like a book that you’ve read. But I don’t think you then have the excuse to lash out and say horrid things just because you can. I see these kinds of reviews on goodreads all the time and they often seem to have hundreds of likes. I’ve read many and whilst some are clever in a bitter and snaky kind of way – I don’t feel like they’re helpful. Threats against the author or insulting them isn’t cool nor is it constructive. These kinds of review aren’t what I consider to be a negative review.

Negative reviews are those where the reviewer didn’t enjoy the story. They are often 1 or 2 star stories where the reader felt there were many things that didn’t work for them. I don’t write many negative reviews. Most of the time I can always find some facet about a novel that appeals to me causes me to enjoy the world that the author has brought me into.

That said – I see value in negative reviews.

There is the saying:

and it does apply to books. The things I couldn’t stand in one novel might be what makes it a favourite for someone else. I don’t like instalove but for someone else love at first sight might be the ultimate in romance. Not a fan graphic violence but a reader of my review might be looking for something vivid and brutal (okay – so maybe I haven’t used the best examples but I think you can understand where I’m going with this).

We don’t all like the same things. But I feel that if I can articulate why I wasn’t a fan of elements in a novel then others can decide for themselves if it appeals to them. 

I’ve gone out and bought books based on one star reviews I’ve read from others. Why? Because they pointed out why the book didn’t work for them and it was those things that appealed to me.

I’m going to keep posting negative reviews. I’ll keep telling others what I loved in certain books and what didn’t work for me as a reader.

What are your thoughts on negative reviews? Do you post them? Do you read them? Feel free to leave me a comment telling me what you think – even if you consider my approach to negative reviews to be completely wrong. I love hearing what others have to say. 



  1. I post more good reviews than negative ones, but occasionally I don’t love a book – I mean, obviously you’re not going to like every book I read. But, like you, I make sure I point out why I didn’t like it, and why other people MIGHT like it. Sometimes I read negative reviews and think…that’s not a bad thing. That sounds awesome! I think both have their place and so I will keep posting them 🙂

  2. I don’t write/post negative reviews, because for me I feel that it’s a waste of my time to write out a review for a book I wouldn’t recommend to others. As a reader, I always skim a review to first see what the reviewer rated the book, before reading the review. I don’t read negative reviews (1 or 2 star), and I will not read a book that has a low rating on GR. I think this makes me a book snob, lol. But, everyone is different and what works for me, won’t work for someone else 🙂

    • Haha…. I can relate to being a book snob. You know the tags on book covers by different authors commenting on the novel? Yeah… if the tag is from an author I don’t like – I won’t read the novel. It’s why it took me so long to read The Mortal Instruments. There was a quote on the cover from Stephenie Meyer and I judged the series based on that …

  3. You posted this at the PERFECT time for me! I’ve been trying to decide if I want to read Plus One by Elizabeth Fama, because it sounds like something I’d fall in love with, but there’s a lot of mixed reviews out there right now. I think I’m going to read it now – thanks for the reminder!

    • I’ve not heard of that one before… will have to look it up. I hope you enjoy it! There are a lot of books that I’ve read and then after I’ve read them I see reviews… and people hate the ones I loved 😛 Oh well. This is why it’s great to have so many bloggers each with their own opinions and thoughts to share! .

  4. I like reading Negative Reviews!! It’s hard to write them sometimes because I start feeling bad for the author (who probably feels like I’m talking smack on their baby)… but it must be done. I have to tell people the truth about how I feel… and like you said, maybe the exact REASON I don’t like the book will be the reason someone will want to read the book. I feel like as much as I want to recommend books to people, I also want to warn people about books that might be a waste of their time. That’s just me though… I know tons of people who don’t even post neg. reviews, so there’s a lot of diversity out there 🙂

    • I find it hard to write to write them too but I feel like I owe it to my readers to share the good and the bad. I’m not going to love every book I read – but I also know that my readers don’t always share my opinions. I want them to be able to decide for themselves.

  5. This. is. AWESOME. Yes! I’ve been wondering lately if I should post so many negative reviews, (I know people who don’t post a review unless it’s above 3 stars), buuuut, I feel like book blogging is something you need to be honest in. Or else it’s confusing. I like reading negative reviews IF they highlight what the problem is. Then I know if that’s going to be an issue for me. If someone says the plot sucked by the characters were good, I’m still going to read it, because I looooove good characters. Very well said. 😉 And wooooot! Another Aussie blogger! I’m following. XD

    • I love finding new Aussie bloggers – and by new I mean new to me. I’ve discovered many in the past few days who have been around for years and I’ve only just found them!

      You’re right – as a reader of reviews, I just want people to be honest. We don’t all think alike so we’re not all going to love the same things but if they say what they liked/disliked and why – I’m going to keep reading their reviews and decide for myself if I like the books they review.
      How great are characters? I read for characters. Plot is secondary. I can read a book with hopeless plot if the characters are entertaining and engaging!

  6. I think a negative review needs to be written with tact. I don’t like reviews where the person just attacks and demeans every single thing about the novel. I mean, surely there was at least one TEENY TINY thing that was good about the novel, or slightly good.
    But when negative reviews are written well, I am more than fine with them. I’ve only ever written two negative reviews, and I don’t even know if they count – one was a two star and one was a two and a half star. When writing them, I pretty much just tried to explain why the book wasn’t for me. The characters didn’t connect, the writing style wasn’t to my taste, or maybe I felt like the plot was predictable.
    Yeah, of course I will keep posting them. I mean blogging is all about sharing opinions, be they good or bad. But since I don’t come across books I don’t like very often, hopefully there won’t be too many in my future, haha.

    • I think I’ve only written two or three one star books. Most were sequels just trying to cash in on the success of the first novel.
      But I absolutely agree – There has to be at least one tiny thing that everyone can find about a book even if they didn’t enjoy it. There must have been something that made them pick it up and start reading it.
      I’ve read a few DNF reviews in the past few days and what I liked about them was that whilst the reviewers didn’t like them – they did find some things they thought others might like about them.

  7. Definitely. Like you say, negative reviews can be just as useful as positive reviews because everyone is going to have different opinions and like/dislike different things. The key here is that the negative review is constructive and still respectful to the author who put a lot of work into that book. I do admit to enjoying a snarky review now and then, but I draw the line at outright meanness because that’s in no way helpful and can be quite cruel. Great thoughts 🙂

  8. I absolutely love this post! I agree with you 100%. It’s great how you posted this, especially as some people take negative reviews the wrong way. I’m the same, I don’t write many negative reviews, but the ones that I do, I give as many reasons that I can as to why I didn’t like the book, and sometimes examples as well (My DNF review on The Queen’s Choice is 3 pages long haha) on the book alone. I don’t give up on the author just because of the one book. Thank you for this post! Definitely will be sharing 🙂

    • Thanks Gina 😀
      Oh… three pages? I can understand that I read it a few weeks ago and nearly didn’t finish it. But once I got past the first hundred pages or so I quite enjoyed it. And I think that’s why negative reviews have value. For anyone else struggling with the start, after they read my review and know it gets better, they might be encouraged to go on. Or after they read yours they might see the value in not going any further.

      • Yeah, three pages! I didn’t get up to 100 pages, but I honestly did try. It’s just like you said in the post, everyone takes away something completely different than others. It just depends, I think it would be good to read both of ours. If someone is struggling with it like I did, but they want to continue, then they should definitely read your review so they can see what to look forward to.

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