It’s finally happened. I received my first negative review. I have mixed feelings. Obviously there’s the devastated part of me that would like very much to tear all my books to shreds, now, and never write another word again. And then there’s the part of me saying “yay! – thank goodness that’s out of the way”.
So here’s the deal, now that I know from experience what it feels like… It’s no fun. But what really bugs me (not just for my own books, but for any) is the things that people put in negative reviews. They’ll say something like ‘not my cup of tea‘, and give it 1 star. Like it’s bad just because it’s not their cup of tea. Just because it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t mean it’s bad for what it is, right? Or, as in my case, they leave a single gripe as their reason for 1 star. It seems to me that you have to have more than one gripe to take the trouble of leaving a super negative review, even if it was a big one (gripe). Does one gripe that ruins the book (even the whole book) for you mean that every other aspect was bad, enough to warrant stripping it of all those stars? If every other aspect was also bad, then SAY so. Fine. If not, give it more than one star.
Obviously I need a rant right now, but it’s honestly something that bugs me and seems unjust in a general sense, regardless of whose book is being reviewed. I guess there’s nothing to be done about it, but it seems as though there should be. These reviews are what people look to in order to judge a piece of writing, and it seems unfair to be able to write such a vague review attached to such an influential ‘rating’. A person could type ‘hehehehehehehe’ and give something 1 star, and the star average will be what reflects on the book.
For the record, it was my prose that wasn’t well-received. I get that. Especially for this book. There was a lot of prose, which was part of the point of the book (another reviewer mentioned the book goes from scene to scene in a dream-like haze, which is spot on and precisely the intention, really rather part of the plot. They seemed to understand that, as their review was a 5-star one). This new negative review complained the prose got in the way of clarity and plot. I can see how this would be an opinion, even a strong one.
I don’t see how it constitutes one star. It gets me wondering… When you review a book, does (can) a single gripe ruin the whole thing for you? Maybe it’s something you do absolutely hate, even something that somehow makes the rest of it unreadable to you, but does that automatically make the thing as a whole inherently bad? As in…no one should read it? Everyone should be warned against it. As in…you have to take the time to trash the thing as a whole (which you haven’t even finished) to make sure your opinion reflects it badly so others will take heed and spare themselves what will surely be the same exact experience?
For me, I would never leave a 1-star review for any book unless it was bad on all (or at the very least ‘most’) fronts. The grammar, the plot, the content, the style. 1 star is the lowest you can go, meaning there was nothing good about the thing.
What I do actually find kind of comical is that there will be a 5-star review and a 1-star review right next to each other, and they’ll showcase the same points of the book. I think that probably sums up the entire point of this blog post quite nicely. (It’s the kind of thing that makes you go ‘haha’, and wish you could write reviews about reviews, and say ‘the clarity and plot were clearly only hampered because this poor soul didn’t have the mind or attention span to get through it’)
Alright, rant over, time to get back to writing. WITH my darned prose.