The thorny debate of reviewing - and negative reviews - has raised its ugly head again. Many an author has spoken forcefully on the subject with the most recent being this blog post on reviews and amazon reviews in particular
While the post has been edited repeatedly showing the author has listened to some objections, the original problematic nature remains (albeit watered down) and we feel, as reviewers, that we need to address the suggestion that reviews should provide positive reviews - and the very idea that 20 words constitutes a review
Firstly, we want to challenge the idea that a negative review is a bad review. These terms should not be confused. A review that says “ZOMG SO AWESOME YAAAY BUY IT!” is a bad review. It’s awful. Why is this book awesome? Why should I buy it? This tells me as a reader absolutely nothing. I don’t know if my tastes match the reviewers, I don’t know what parts they like and why and for all I know it could be written by the author’s mother.
Similarly a negative review that explains in detail the many reasons why the reviewer didn’t like the book and all the problems within it? That is a good review. It’s a great review - and it can even recommend the book. If I read a review that says “there wasn’t nearly enough focus on the relationship development and far too much distraction when X, Y and Z happen in the plot” then to me that is a recommendation to me - because plot focus rather than relationship focus is what II prefer. Similarly if you read our review of a paranormal romance and see that we didn’t like it because there’s too much focus on the sex and relationship angst - or we didn’t like a YA because there was too much highschool drama and you want to read that - then our review recommends it.
A good review isn’t a positive review, it’s a detailed review. It’s a review that truly gives the reader an insight into the book and what problems it may have - and whether they are enough to put the reader off - or recommend it to them.
There is a lot of concern here for the impact of a negative review on an author - but what about the impact of a false positive review on authors who have written genuinely great work? To take Amazon reviews as an example - if the mediocre (or outright awful!) books are given 4 or 5 stars (especially with short, scrappy “reviews” accompanying them) then how do we find the actual gems that are worth the 4 or 5 stars? If we, on Fangs, decide to give trope laden, boring, outright offensive or just plain awful books 4 fangs or more then how can you find which books we truly fanpoodle?