This is not primarily a book review blog. I do write up book reviews, because I think it’s important, and I think any press is good press, and I like to read, and I like to share. How do we find out about books we might like if other folks don’t talk about them? This is especially true of ‘midlist’ authors. Everyone knows about Stephen King and Neil Gaiman and China Meiville and Robert Jordan. Word of mouth (or blog) is a good thing.
I have a dear friend who, for a time, officially offered reviews. This is coming to an end as she is YAY focusing more on her own in-various-stages-of-production works YAY. She maintained a firm policy of refusing to give bad reviews, so if there was a book she wound up not liking, for whatever reason, instead of talking about why, she simply would not review it.
I’ve been on the fence about that. I think that one needs to at least think about why it doesn’t work — is the writing bad? Does the story not make sense? Is it just a subject you don’t care for? I have given not great reviews in the past; there are some writers whose works just do not work for me. A great example is Guy Gavriel Kay’s work. I’ve tried a bunch. His Fionavar Tapestry series should have been right up my ally. I loved the lushness of his writing, I loved the premises, and I could not progress very far into the series. I also tried three others of his books, to the same end. There’s no flaw in his writing that I can find, I just didn’t care about the stories. So, I wouldn’t give them a bad review (because I never finished) because the a fault in making a connection isn’t the sole province of the author.
I try to separate, too, the writing from what could be editoral and/or formatting issues and annoyances. Often, I’ll include that in my review and stress that I understand it happens, and it doesn’t usually impact my rating, if I’m using a rating system.
And then there are books that just come across rushed and, well, bad. We’re allowed to write bad books, right? They can’t all be amazing.
So, what do we do? Do we ignore them? Do we review them? Especially when the book in question is written by a writer’s whose work you typically enjoy? When the whole thing comes across as completely rushed, when you can see, as a writer, that if it had been given a little more time it could have been great . . . do we point that out, do we walk about it, or do we pretend it never happened?
Where do you stand on this issue, as a writer, as a reader, as one who looks for reviews?