Sometimes I get the feeling that negative reviews are a taboo subject in the book community, there’s a line between constructive criticism and hostile reviews – please don’t do that, be as polite as possible, but in any case over the years I’ve grown accustomed to reading and writing negative reviews so let me tell you about them…

Negative reviews (1-2 stars, even though 2 stars are considered “ok” by Goodreads) are a huge part of the reading community and yes, even if some of them are less than polite, the majority is – and should be – constructive feedback and genuine opinion about a book. It’s as simple as this, when you read a book, you form an opinion, and you share it with other readers.. Action and reaction. So the saying ‘if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ doesn’t really apply to reviews, at least for me.

We can’t all love the same books, so of course some of them are bound to have negative reviews, it’s all part of reading and reviewing.

why I post negative reviews

Very early in my book blogging journey I made the decision to include those reviews on my blog. On Goodreads I would anyway since that’s my way of making sure I won’t accidentally go back to read a book I’ve read already (yes, it has happened – #BookwormProblems – so I always leave a review) but I’m very carefull about the reviews I post on my blog and the timing – posting negative reviews before a release date is just not something I’ll ever do, I’ll leave a rating on Goodreads, maybe a few lines explaining and then, weeks after the release date I’ll post the entire review. Unless the book contains something that I can’t avoid talking about immediately after reading. Every book is different, just like every review is different.

why I read negative reviews

Same rule applies to bloggers. That’s the main reason I look for negative reviews when I find a new blog or a new reviewer. I want to have a reference as to what types of books are not getting 3-4-5 star reviews and call me crazy but if I have a 5 star review and a 1 star review of two different books from the same blogger, I can tell the likes and dislikes, I can judge if our tastes are similar or not and that, to me, is very important. Like I mentioned, we all have different opinions about books we like or didn’t like and the important thing is to treat every review and the person behind it with respect and open mind. Plus, I’m curious to see if we share the same opinion about a book and what might be different.

Same thing when I go looking for a new book that caught my attention, I read both the 5 star reviews and the 1 star reviews to get a full perspective about the book and then make up my mind – avoiding spoilers as much as possible. Some readers don’t read reviews at all, some read only one type of review, and that’s okay, we all operate differently.

I’ve found negative reviews to be more forthcoming and point exactly the flaw in a book. Won’t make me change my mind about reading or my review, but it will present things in a different light and give me another POV to ‘see’ the story from.

Do it like everything I read? Of course not, some make me wonder if we even read the same book but they give me something to think about as well.

negative reviews + authors

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of cases in which the bloggers/reviewers/readers were harassed by the author and the readers. Goodreads tends to warn authors not to comment on bad reviews so as to avoid putting that person in a difficult position and keep things as civil as possible. I’ve had authors comment on my reviews, both positive and negative. The awkwardness of the situation is something that I assume has kept a lot of reviewers from posting their review – personally I’ve never been treated badly for my reviews, I do try to keep them as polite as I possibly cann. But ultimately the experience and the feelings a reader gets from reading a book are so unique and so different that no one can say, no that’s wrong, this book deserves another rating/review.

That’s the beauty of reading; we don’t share the same opinion but we can use this as an opportunity to have healthy conversations about books. As it should be.

Do you read negative reviews? And do you avoid posting them? – If you leave negative reviews, please remember the hard work that goes into writing and publishing a book. 


  1. Great thoughts! I agree-I read negative reviews so that I know if there is something I won’t like. Maybe it doesn’t bother most people, but if a review mentions one of my “no goes’ in a book, I won’t read it. Its also a good way to see if I might still like a book anyway even if they didn’t! Well written negative reviews are helpful!
    Samantha recently posted…Freebie Friday: St. Patrick’s Day!My Profile

  2. I do read negative reviews especially if it’s a book I have enjoyed because I am curious to see why the book wasn’t enjoyed by the blogger because it often gives me a new perspective on the book, especially if it has problematic elements!

  3. I also read reviews for all different ratings when I’m deciding on a book. 1-star reviews point out the problems. 5-star reviews point out the good things. The in-between reviews point out a little bit of both. At this point, I’m wary to even read a book that has NO negative reviews. Some of the absolute worst books I’ve read have had all positive reviews, so I just don’t trust it anymore. I want to know what a books flaws are in order to make my decision. No book is flawless for every person, almost no book is flawless for me, but I enjoy them anyway, so just because a book has flaws, that doesn’t make me not want to read it. But there are certain things that bother me more, certain things other people dislike but I like and vice versa, etc. So negative reviews definitely help me as a reader, and sometimes they’re the ones that convince me to read the book. Plus, I never trust just one review, I read a bunch in order to see what sorts of positives/negatives all the reviewers seem to be pointing out.

    I also write negative reviews for all the same reasons—if a review is respectful rather than snarky and cruel, it benefits everyone, even if it’s negative. I never tell people not to read a book, I just point out what I liked and disliked and let others make their decisions.
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Book Review: Warlock in Training (Studies in Demonology Book 1) by TJ NicholsMy Profile

  4. I both read and write negative reviews. I’m an honest person, so I try to keep it as real as possible while also being respectful. If I absolutely hate a book, I include what didn’t work for me and why. I don’t just flat out say “this book sucked”. That’s not helpful to anyone. I’m a portrait artist and when I was in school we held class critiques and explained what you liked and disliked and explained why we felt that way. I look at writing reviews the same way. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky so far on Goodreads. I haven’t had any nasty comments. So far people respectfully disagree. I’m sure it will happen eventually tho. lol! Great post!!
    Julie @ Happily Ever Chapter recently posted…Stacking the Shelves & Sunday PostMy Profile

  5. It can be a tough situation. If I accept a book from an indie author and it’s just terrible, which has happened many times, I just tell them that I am very sorry but I must decline to review so that I don’t hurt their sales – because the review will be very unfavorable. If it’s a book I bought and my views are negative, I will post a negative review. Everyone is different on this issue, I’m sure. 🙂
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
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