Anyway. Today's post. I'm pretty sure 90% (and if not 100%) of the people who read this blog are all writers. Yes? Maybe? Probably? I'm also pretty sure that whether or not you're a writer, you're a reader. And a good portion of you are probably reviewers, too.
About a week ago, Sandy wrote a post asking how people felt about writers/published authors reviewing books. And a few days ago, tweets from RomCon popped up in my twitter feed from a panel about review sites and how reviews should be written, etc. And it got me thinking.
As a reader who depends a lot on reviews to guide what I will and will not buy, I want honest reviews of what's out there. Keeping in mind (in my opinion, anyway) that a review can never be objective because reading by its very nature is a subjective activity (huge divide between people who like Twilight and people who don't being the most obvious indicator) I like a review that points out the good and the bad. This doesn't mean I like reviews that bash the author or the writing or who simply say 'This book was atrocious! DON'T BUY IT.' (quite honestly I can't take those reviews seriously).
But it does mean that I like an honest assessment of what the reader thought was the book's flaws, what could have been improved and what didn't resonate with the reader personally. As a writer who hopes to one day be a published author with books on shelves and review blogs, I think this part of the writer/reader/reviewer community is hugely important. No book, no matter how amazing, is flawless. And as a writer, I would like to be able to take all forms of constructive criticism (though I suspect this is easier said than done). Reviews are a part of that.
I think that asking reviewers to only hand out glowing reviews negates the point of the review system. Reviewers are people, too. They have likes and dislikes. And they have a right to dislike a book and point out what about the book they disliked. Like I said in my last post, bashing the author is useless and hurtful and shouldn't be a part of the system. But pointing out in a respectful way what you didn't like about a piece of work shouldn't be looked down on. Reviewers aren't serving the author, they're serving the reading public. They're there to advice readers what to buy, not boost author sales (even though most of us would like that the reviews boosted sales).
So I think it's unfair, to a certain degree, to denigrate the usefulness of a review that points out in a respectful way the qualities of a book that they didn't agree with. Even if that's all the review does.
*though I won't lie and say that I would like to have negative reviews and that I won't rant and rave (privately, of course) over negative reviews that I may or may not receive if I'm ever published. I'm only human after all. ;)
READERS AND BOOKS AND STUFF