Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do you review badly written books? bad books? Do you publish bad reviews?

I'm about halfway through what is without doubt the worst crime novel that I have read (or tried to read) this year. It's a book that languished in my tbr pile, and when I finally got around to it, it has emphatically not been worth the wait. My dilemma is, do I identify the book, or review it honestly? What do you do with a bad book (full of cliche's of plot, character, and language, characters without distinctive voices, pointless intrusions and repetitions by the narrator, and so on)? Should the crime reviewers/readers of the blogosphere pass over bad books in silence, or call them (and their publishers) to account? My usual practice is just to stop reading and pass judgment with silence. Is that the best way? Does anyone want to know the novel I am slamming without naming?

9 comments:

Bernadette in Australia said...

I had a rule for myself when I started my blog that if I finished a book I would review it. And I do occasionally finish really awful books so when I do finish them I write a review and put it on the blog. I think as long as you don't get personal and talk about specific things that you didn't like it's fine to review a book you didn't like. As a reader who relies heavily on reviews to determine what books to add to my TBR pile I appreciate hearing honest opinions - I may still choose to read it because the things you don't like are things I do like but at least I know what to expect.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

My feeling has always been that heavily publicized books or writers who've received lots of hype and enthusiastic mentions in the media are fair game for reviewing, no matter how bad their latest works might be. On the other hand, I usually don't write about poor books by little-known authors; that seems too much like torturing puppies ...

If the book you're reading is instructive in what it does wrong, if the author is well-known, and if you really feel that readers ought to avoid picking up the book themselves, then I say go for it.

Cheers,
Jeff

Kerrie said...

Glenn - I am really disappointed when I don't like a book, or when I feel it is really badly written, but I won't in those circumstances not review it.
I do try to find "nice", encouraging things to say but sometimes it is just not possible. I had a few in 2008 - see the bottom of the list. There were just a couple in 2009

Ben Hunt said...

I took the view when I started that I would tell people what I liked, rather than what I didn't and that there was more than enough negativity around without my adding to it. I still am not certain that this is the right approach and whether it is entirely honest with readers, but as yet I have not chosen to change it. Part of that is also a personal motivational issue.I don't have a lot of time to blog, and I don't feel I necessarily want to spend it writing about a book I didn't enjoy. I would make an exception for DAn Brown but I can't bring myself to read his books.

Uriah Robinson said...

I think crime reviewers on the blogosphere do owe readers honest opinions.
There are more than enough sycophantic reviews from the main stream. It never hurts to tell the truth, especially now I am dying to know the title. Life is a learning process and sometimes you have to read a bad book in order to be able to appreciate why you enjoy some authors more than others.

Editor Bill said...

As a reviewer, I believe one should be honest and tell the bad as well as the good. Otherwise, how can I, as the reader learn what your criteria is for a good book. I do look to reviewers to point me at new authors, but lately I have been on so many fan sites that have steered me to books that I don't like, (some of which I can't imagine anyone liking) that I no longer trust those sites. Also, one can sometimes learn more about writing by examining bad books - after all, good writers make it look so easy.

Rob Kitchin said...

Like Bernadette, I'll only review the books I finish. If the book is terrible I generally won't persist with it. Like others, I do think that is incumbent on reviewers to be honest and say they don't like a book. They should though make it clear as to the reasons for not liking it. This doesn't have to be malicious and if written well can be constructive. I'm conscious that in some cases the reason I don't like a book is taste and not necessarily the quality of the writing or plotting. In these cases I will explicitly state this and provide links to other blogs who might have been more positive.

Maxine said...

I tend not to review books that I thought were bad - unless I have undertaken to review the book for someone else. Even then, I try to accent the positive without revelling in the negative, while still being honest.

Life is too short to waste time on slagging off books.

Ali Karim said...

"Life is too short to waste time on slagging off books" - That's my way, as i never finish books that are not ticking my boxes, as they block my reading as they put me off reading - Hence rarely review books that I dislike as I've not finsihed them - but have in the past and man, life is way too short

Ali