Negative Reviews: Spread Them or Nahh?

We’ve all been in this position: you read a book and you don’t like it. At all. And that’s fine because everyone is entitled to their opinions.

But should you spread the negative review out?

When I read a book that I don’t like, I don’t hesitate to state my opinion. I write my review on my blog, and I make sure to explain why I didn’t like this book. And this explanation is really important to me; I want to make sure people who read my blog post understand what made this novel not work. I do all of this in an effort to show people my perspective so that (hopefully) they can have a better picture of whether this novel works for them or not.

But by writing this review, I also have to admit that I may be turning people off of the book. And this makes me feel really guilty. Being an author and publishing your book is no small feat: a lot of hard work, dedication, and soul goes into that novel. This is the author on a plate. And by posting my review, I just pooped on it. Is it fair for me to dissuade other people through my negative review? It’s something that haunts me every time I post the words “I didn’t like this book.”

My other concern when writing a negative review is … do I post it on other platforms? I have a bookstagram account and a Twitter that is solely for books. When I write a review, I make a post or a tweet encouraging others to read it. But so far, I have refrained from doing it with negative reviews.

Why?

Because I don’t want my opinion to spread too far. This blog, which I am working on nurturing and growing, has a relatively small reach. The chances of hundreds or thousands of people seeing my post are minimal when I keep it on my blog – not to mention, the author will probably not see it. I don’t want to hurt their feelings by posting a negative review that someone on Twitter or Instagram can then tag them in. Like I said, they poured their heart into this and I don’t want to be the one to break their heart.

So now, I’m throwing this question out to the book reading and blogging community: what do you do when you have a negative opinion about a book? Do you shout it out to the world or do you keep it to yourself?

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The Changeling by Victor LaValle

This was a novel I have been most excited to read and I wanted to make sure I would get the chance to read it before the year ends. I love magical realism and I love the idea of changeling children even more. It doesn’t hurt that the cover is really beautiful! Anyways, here is my review:

Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father when his wife Emma begins to act strange. Emma acts uninterested in their new baby boy, and while her symptoms were at first dismissed as being signs of post-partum depression, it quickly becomes clear that there is a lot more going on. And then it comes too late, as Emma commits a horrific act and vanishes, seemingly, into thin air. Heartbroken but determined to get answers, Apollo begins a journey beyond all imagining. But will he be prepared for the horrors that lie ahead?

The first half of this novel gripped me. There was a quirkiness to the storytelling, as we read about Apollo’s childhood, and his journey into adulthood where he meets – and falls in love with – Emma. I loved reading about Apollo’s dreams, and how he got into the book dealing business. The author did a great job of setting the stage for the story. And when the story became darker, it really chilled me to the bone. I knew something terrible was going to happen with Emma and Apollo and the baby, but reading it was more shocking than I had imagined – and I mean this in a good way! I wish that the author had created more of a buildup to this dark turn of events but I was so engrossed in Apollo’s character and the story that I didn’t mind the abruptness too much. When the next section of the story began, I was intrigued to see what Apollo would do next. In terms of character development, I think the author did a great job in portraying the way grief, anger, and confusion can change a person. However, the story itself started to become a little too strange for me. I like weirdness and whimsical twists, but I also really like when things are explained properly and transitions are made cleanly. And that didn’t happen here. There were so many things thrown in that weren’t explained properly! I wish the author had taken the time to develop the storyline of the witches and the hidden island and the bombing and the sheep’s head and the folktales and the ogre … and just so many other things. This second half of the novel felt very jumbled, as if the author was trying to throw in all sorts of different elements to make multiple points on all sorts of issues. Suddenly, there are warnings about the use of social media, and then we move onto the theme of family and beliefs and fairy tales being life lessons, and … well, you get the gist of it. Nothing was clearly outlined and the story lost the wonderful focus it had had in the beginning. So while the beginning of this novel was wonderful and scintillating, the second half of the story was a jumbled mess that left me wanting something different. I know a lot of other people really enjoyed this novel so maybe this is just me. But I’m giving this book a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I thought this would be an interesting take on the way social media allows people to connect with each other, and the way that social media can become a dangerous place. I have to admit that my own social media accounts are quite sparse; I rarely use Instagram or Facebook and I don’t even have a Twitter account. I wanted to get a feel for the Twitter-verse … so what better way than through an interesting teen thriller? Here is my review:

Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. But through Twitter and the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn, the world has opened up. She looks forward to his rare tweets to his fans: it makes her feel like his message is just for her.

For Eric Thorn, social media is a nightmare – and so are his obsessive fans. Their devotion can get frightening and he doesn’t feel comfortable engaging with these teenage girls. It doesn’t help that his PR team doesn’t understand his reluctance and wants him to encourage his fans’ fantasies. When a fellow pop star is murdered by an obsessive fan, Eric knows he needs to do something to ruin his online image fast. His plan? Take down one of his top Twitter followers.Β  But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Wow. I wasn’t expecting this novel to be … so … bad. In the beginning, I was intrigued because the first chapter opens up with a police transcript. Immediately, the reader knows that things get serious. However, as the story continues, it becomes apparent that this is nothing more than just some fanfiction romance. This novel reads like fanfiction. And it’s not even GOOD fanfiction! We have a whiny, condescending pop star with an irrational fear of his fans. We have a PR team with no empathy, or conscience whatsoever. And we have an insipid fandom that apparently consists only of shallow girls. Oh, except for our one unique fan, Tessa, our snowflake. This bothered me so much because fandoms are really not like that at all. I’m not very involved with any fandom but I know that there are a lot of fans who take the time to get to know the celebrities they love, who analyze their work, and who really appreciate the celebrity for their art and for their personality. It’s not just “about the abs” as Eric depicts it in the book. This novel suggests that it is going to be a thriller but is really just a romance. At the 80% mark, we finally see the thriller that we are promised but it is really badly executed. We have the introduction of a random character with their random plan that was not properly incorporated at any point in the story. It was just such a mess, and it was so confusing to read. And then there is another cringe-worthy romance scene, followed by another twist. And the story ends as a cliffhanger, with the promise of a sequel. It was just too much for me to handle. My concluding thoughts? This is just some really bad fanfiction that is full of cringe-worthy and hard-to-believe romance (seriously, these characters DO NOT understand what love is) and a last minute thriller thrown in as an attempt to satisfy readers. I will not be reading the sequel and I will not be recommending this novel to anyone. 1/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~

 

The Thirst by Jo Nesbo – Harry Hole #11

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book I have read in the Harry Hole series. This made me a bit worried since I felt that I would be missing out on a lot of details but a lot of people assured me that I would still enjoy the story as a standalone. With these reassurances, I began my journey into the world of Harry Hole … and here is my review:

In the latest novel featuring Inspector Harry Hole, Harry is hunting down a serial killer who uses Tinder to find his victims. Each victim is a self-declared Tinder addict. On examination of the body, there is only one clue: fragments of rust and paint in her wounds. Harry does not want to get involved with this case; he promised himself that he would never go back into the field. But there’s something about these murders that grabs his attention. Despite his promises, and in spite of all the risks, Harry throws himself back into the chase, in search of the monster who got away.

As someone who is completely unfamiliar with this series, I felt I was at a disadvantage. There were all of these subplots and character interactions that I didn’t feel like I grasped 100%, so my experience fell a bit short. That being said, this is still a very well-written and engaging thriller. I was swept up in the chase from the beginning and could not put this book down. I really liked Harry’s character; he is so flawed yet so perfect in his role as a detective. The mystery itself was really well executed and I enjoyed watching it all come together. All of the characters were well developed and I enjoyed finding out how everyone was connected, even if my understanding was superficial compared to that of a fan of the series. This novel has definitely shown me what I am missing, and you can bet that I will be getting myself into this series as soon as I possibly can!

Happy reading ~