Okay. So this topic pops up every now and then in the book blog-o-sphere, and opinions tend to vary. Should you post negative or DNF reviews? Personally, I think you should, where you have received the book as an ARC/galley, from the library or purchased it. It’s especially true with ARCs & Galleys. The publisher is going to want to know why you either didn’t like or didn’t finish the novel (particuarly I feel if it’s one you requested). It’s not a bad thing. But one thing that isn’t so often discussed is what you should and shouldn’t include in these less than favourable reviews.
That is not to say that you should totally just bag out the author or the book. If you are going to do a negative review or a DNF review there are a few things you really should include, and some things that whilst being less important, are still good things to have if they are applicable. I have complied this list from my own negative and DNF reviews, as well as others I have read over time. Some of these are going to be fairly obvious, but you’d be surprised what happens to the obvious when the rage feels, or the “meh that was boring” takes over.
The must haves.
- What parts of the book you did like. Now, if it’s a DNF review you don’t really have to include it. But a negative review generally means you finished the book, when if you hated most of it ther had to be one part, however small whether it was a character or seeing if you had worked out the bad guy, that you did like enough to finish the book.
- Why you couldn’t finish the book. Obviously this is only for DNF reviews, but just saying “it sucked!” isn’t really a good reason if you are doing a DNF review. If you just didn’t like it and can’t give a specific reason, then don’t review it. If it was an arc, send the publisher/source a polite email saying that it just wasn’t the book for you. If you want to tell them you can’t pinpoint a specific reason, you just weren’t able to get into the story.
- What specifically you didn’t like the book. You can absolutely have more than one of these. You can have several of these. Lack of character development, no plot, didn’t like or connect to the characters, lack of world building, missed the mark completely, unresolved conclusion and there’s no sequel. Your review, your reasons.
- Do include everything you would include in a positive review, even for DNF reviews.
- Do write your negative review in the same way you would write a positive review. By this I mean if you have a conversational style, stick with it. A more formal style, same goes.
- Do be polite. Now, I know this seems like a weird thing to include but I have read some reviews and thought ‘oh my God, I can’t believed that person said that’. It’s a tricky one because if you feel that a book comes off as racist or homophobic or misogynistic or something equally bad, it can be very hard not to attack the author and say some very nasty things. As I said before, it’s amazing what happens when your anger or disgust take over, so be prepared to write out your review in that frame of mind and hit ‘save draft’ not ‘publish’. If your feelings as that strong when you originally write the review, they will remain so. This is probably going to be most relevant in cases where a review will be sent to the publisher – I’m not saying don’t say what you think, I’m just saying that you should be mindful of how you get your point across. Say what you want to say, but say it like you would in a professional setting.
- Don’t be self-righteous or a jerk. This is an addon to the be polite point above. You can be snarky, but only if you can actually pull it off. Some people try to be snarky and just come off as rude or nasty.
- Don’t just put in a whole bunch of gifs to lighten the review if you don’t normally include gifs. Lots of gifs just cause the pages to load slowly and will annoy people using feed readers or who have slower internet connections.
- Don’t write bad reviews just for attention. You will be caught out sooner or later, particularly by those who have been doing this for a while.
So hopefully this will help someone who has decided to post a negative orDNF review. If you have anything to add, just comment and let me know.