Dissecting Book Reviews that Deserve 1 Star

Book reviews. An author’s best marketing friend…sometimes. We all love to get them…on most occasions. Authors fight for them, beg and plead for them, dream about them, wish for them…until we see that horrible review that reduces our book to a pile of smoldering ash within that tiny block of allotted space—for all to see.

Obviously, there are readers out there who will NOT like every book. If a book is poorly edited or lacks essential character or plot elements, readers who spent their hard-earned money, and their even-more-valuable time, really do have a right to feel ripped off. All authors should make every effort to hold themselves up to the highest publishing standards and deliver quality work that keeps the reader coming back for more. But, what about that fine line some readers step over when delivering a verbal blow to a book containing no major storyline problems and little to no errors in mechanics?

That my friends, is a ‘troll’ review. Allow me to provide some examples:

  1. Revenge Reviews – These kinds of reviews are posted in retaliation to some wrong the reader feels has been dealt to them. Perhaps they got into a political, religious or some other type of argument with the author on a social media platform. Maybe they wrote a book that was on the receiving end of a bad review and are now targeting that reviewer. You know what they say about revenge and digging two graves… Just don’t do it! You can hold your head high and relish in the fact you’re the bigger person.
  2. Character Assassinations – I’ve seen so many of these that were unfair. A reader takes a book to task because they don’t like one of the characters. Maybe the main character reminds them of that best friend who stole their boyfriend in high school. Or maybe the character makes stupid choices or metes out random cruelty in a moment of human weakness. Whatever the case, it’s quite unfair to take a literary axe to the author simply because the reader doesn’t care for that one fictional person. Is the book well-written, the plot sound, the world believable? Chances are, if the story elicited such a strong emotion from the reader, the writer has done a great job. Saying a book sucks based solely upon one player in the entire game means the reviewer didn’t really complete an accurate assessment—too narrow a focus was employed in these types of reviews. (This applies to other types of limited focus, too.) Remember there is so much more in that world to consider other than that one measly character.
  3. Failing to Remember the Genre – Is the reviewer trashing a mystery book, including somewhere in the write up the fact he/she hates mysteries? This kind of thing boggles the mind. If you hate a certain genre or aren’t prepared to play by the rules of engagement in a certain category of writing, it will probably make your review biased—in a very unfavorable sort of way that is neither fair to the author nor to prospective readers reading the review. As an example, for my own books, which fall into the Young Adult slot, I don’t get it when a reader complains that my character is immature. She’s a teenager. I would fail as a writer if I didn’t portray her that way. When a reviewer of YA lit makes this statement, they are actually saying we hit the nail on the head—but bashing us for creating an authentic, believable character in the same breath, as well as tossing that 1 star, ninja-like, right into our hearts. Remember your genre. Are you being fair to the author, who’s merely following the rules for that story’s style?

My hope is that this post inspires the thought that goes into those reviews we value so much. Keep in mind your thoughts can influence another reader to say yay or nay to a book. Are you being fair to the author who—hopefully—put in much time and effort, perhaps even years, into the writing on the page? Don’t be afraid to call a spade a spade, but ensure you are always being reasonable, taking all that encompasses that book into consideration.

By Claudette Melanson ~ Author of Dark Fantasy


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Guest posts are the opinion of that author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Gilda Evans or others posted here.