To review? Or not to review? (when you don’t love the book you’re reading.)
My vision for my website was always to talk about all things book related – not just my own work. This naturally included reviewing the books I was reading from other authors. However, it also leads to a dilemma that probably every reviewer faces sooner or later.
What do you do when you don’t love the book you’re reviewing? To review, or not to review? That is the question.
The start of the problem.
Usually I only review books I’ve chosen myself and love, but recently I was asked to review a book by an author I’d been chatting to online. The book sounded unusual and interesting so I agreed. I’d not finished the first chapter before I realized I’d made a huge mistake.
Firstly, the names of the characters and places were so difficult they spoiled the flow of the prose.
Now I live in Wales. I’m used to words that are hard to pronounce. We have a town with the longest place name in Europe and the second longest official one-word place name in the world. I can reduce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch to Go-go-goch and move on without batting an eye but the names in this book were stupidly similar.
The hero (let’s call him X’xfdi) couldn’t be simply X because his sidekick was X’icidh and his love interest was X’ydlth. Already my brain couldn’t sort out who was who and, worse than that, as the majority of the first pages consisted of a detailed description of a desert landscape, I really didn’t care.
Sadly, the book didn’t improve.
Now, I am a love-em or leave-em type of reader. If a book doesn’t keep me interested in turning the pages, I have no problem dumping it. I have more half-read books on my Kindle than any person should have. The fact that I haven’t finished these books means I’m not going to give them 5 or even 4 stars on Amazon.
I didn’t want to give my friend’s book 4 stars either. 😲 What’s a girl to do?
Amazon’s rules make it difficult.
Amazon considers anything under a 4 star review to be the sign of a bad book. So, we have three levels of bad but only two levels of good. This makes my review criteria something like:
⭐️ Terrible book. My three year old grandson could invent a better plot. Almost unreadable editing. Boring as hell.
⭐️⭐️ Couldn’t finish reading as got distracted by emergency fingernail painting. Already can’t remember what the plot was about.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Had some promise and would have been OK as a first draft but should never have been published in present form.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Covers everything from:
- the book was OK but I probably won’t want to read it again and in my author/editor head I found plot holes and spotted problems with the grammar
- I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever read.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Loved it ❤ and would recommend to anyone.
Really, I’d like to spread my ‘Four stars’ criteria into the lower categories but Amazon sees this as a black mark …
… and I didn’t want to give the author a black mark.
- Tell the truth – Give it 2 stars and risk upsetting my friend.
- Lie – Give it 4 stars and risk losing the trust of my readers who might buy it on the strength of my review and find out how dreadful it is for themselves.
- Review privately – Send my review to the author and ask if they’d like it posting online. (Also involves risk of upsetting friend.)
- Do nothing – Don’t post a review at all. This option is OK until the friend keeps on asking what I thought, at which point I have to block them and never speak of the matter again.
There has to be a right way but I’m not sure what it is.
What should I do? How do you handle less than favourable reviews?
Let me know in the comments below.
I’m thrilled that the first reviews for Better Buckle Up are coming in.
Here’s what people are saying.
Delightful Illustrations and Effective Story L. Favreau
As a professional child care provider I’m always looking for books that will help solve problems for my parents. This book does an excellent job reinforcing the importance of buckling up, not for fear of being hurt in an accident (a concept that is too abstract and potentially too scary for some) but in a manner that empowers the child to chose and cooperate.
My child rearing mantra is “Distract and Redirect” a theme this book gets perfectly. Rather than ordering her child to buckle up or lecturing, the mother gives her son concrete observable examples of what benefit he gets by cooperating. The choice is self-motivating rather than forced upon him.
And it works like a charm. Giving children incremental power over their lives instills confidence. Especially well done given that the outcome isn’t really a choice-they have to buckle-up, it’s the law.
I read this on my laptop. The illustrations are vibrant and clear, jumping off the page. I hope it is available as a board book soon.
Absolutely adorable! Murboyd.
Absolutely adorable! A charming book to help parents and their kids when it’s time to lock up the car seat belt, and done in a fun way. It’s quick, which is good for youngsters, and the pictures are a delight. Little ones understand race cars and space ships and dune buggies and . . . I won’t do any more spoilers of the cute lures to convince kids to buckle up. It has the added advantage of giving them ideas for pretend while they are in the car seat. I loved the bright smiles on the car drivers, etc, as they zip and soar, and always, never too obvious, the seat belt.
One other fun thing about the book is that if you double-click on the print, the words enlarge for easy reading. I didn’t have any trouble reading them before, but thought that feature might be neat when the children get old enough to read themselves. Not to mention just plain fun for young and not so young!
For you fellow Paperwhite readers, I have a Paperwhite and it won’t let me read it there. It downloaded fine, but won’t open, but I also have my computer, a tablet and a Blackberry Passport, and it works perfectly on all of them. You won’t want to read this in black and white anyway! The color pictures are too good to subdue!
A really enjoyable read for all. A very clear and positive message, in a captivating story. Lovely colourful and interesting illustrations with lots to look at on each page. Every read you spot something different to talk about and discuss. Looking forward to many more reads to come!
So there you have it. Don’t know why it won’t open on a Kindle PaperWhite … will investigate.
A big thank you to all who have bought Better Buckle Up and especially to my first reviewers.