Discussion: Do Negative Reviews Impact Your Decision to Read a Book?

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I am pretty notoriously known for being a harsh reviewer . . . and sometimes I wonder whether they put people off the books I’m reviewing.

I don’t mean them to.

I have a lot of strong opinions when it comes to books — so especially when it comes to a book I don’t like for whatever reason, I can find myself writing quite negative reviews. I neverever mean for them to put people off. It’s more of a way of sharing my reviews with like-minded people . . . or sometimes, maybe I need to vent when it comes to certain things.

In saying that I do try to say something positive about every book I review. But I do have to ask myself . . . Am I putting people off by reading? Because a lot of people read reviews to gauge an idea of whether they should read the book, right?

A fun fact about me: negative reviews don’t ever stop me from reading a book.

Sure, they might help me to lower my expectations (which under some circumstances could be a good thing!) but even if I am constantly reading one-star or two-star reviews for a book that I am interested in reading, I’ll still read it. Here’s why:

  • I haven’t seen a reviewer in which I am perfectly in sync with their reviews. I might agree with most of them, but there WILL be that one book that they’ll like, and I won’t — or vice versa. So I have to ask myself: what if I miss out on a potentially amazing book because of their review?
  • I like to read ALL sorts of books. the good, the bad, the meh. They help me pinpoint certain elements of books that I like / dislike, and in a way, I think this is beneficial to my own writing.
  • I get curious. If there’s a book in which I’ve seen many negative reviews about, I just need to know what I’ll think of it.
  • It is impossible to read every single review of a book. So really, the negative — or positive — reviews of a book that I read are only a small slice of people’s opinions. How can I make a fair judgement on reading a book when I haven’t read every single for and against argument?

How many of you are impacted by negative reviews? If you read them for a book are you less likely to read the book?

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12 thoughts on “Discussion: Do Negative Reviews Impact Your Decision to Read a Book?

  1. A single negative review might make me MORE likely to want to read a book, but if the reviews are consistently really negative…I probably won’t want to read it. But then sometimes I’m surprised in that I LIKE the particular book, so I try not to let it get to me :P

  2. I don’t think negative reviews would really stop me from reading, like you. I would be more inclined to lower my expectations as well. However, if the book has an average of less than 2 stars on Goodreads, then I’m more likely to not read them. I like reading honest reviews and seeing different opinions, so I really enjoy reading negative reviews!

  3. Negative reviews don’t put me off if I want to read a book. Like you, it will lower my expectations, but I’ll still read it. If I’m on the fence about something and I see lots of negative reviews and what annoys the reviewer will annoy me too, then I’ll not read that book because I have too many other books to read. Negative reviews are just as helpful as positive reviews because then you get a much rounder idea of the book and it helps decide whether that book is worth reading or not, but like I said, If I really want to read a book, negative reviews aren’t going to stop me.

  4. I read reviews because they give me a more in-depth view of the book than a blurb can give me. That way, my decision of whether I want to read the book or not is better informed. However, if someone doesn’t like a book, that doesn’t mean I won’t read it. If they mention elements that usually turn me away from a book, I won’t read it. If they mention elements that usually draw me towards a book, I’ll read it. So no, negative reviews don’t affect me that much, and I really appreciate honest bloggers.

  5. It really depends. If I see a plethora of negative reviews for a book I just stumbled upon, then I’ll probably never read it. However, if I see a lot of negative reviews for a book that I’m excited about, then I’ll still try it, but lower my expectations a bit. For instance, I’ve been seeing a lot of negative reviews for The Sin Eater’s Daughter, but I’m still going to read it even though I don’t expect to be blown away.

    I tend to be a harsh reviewer, too, so I know what you mean.

  6. I’m the same Kara, even if everyone else seems to loathe it, chances are, I’ll end up liking it. I always seem to enjoy the books no one else does. Negative reviews for me don’t turn me off reading, but it lowers my expectations. It’s not a bad thing either, then if I end up loving it, I’m pleasantly surprised. Great topic Kara, interesting to see what others think too <3

  7. For me, I’m more about the details of the review than the review itself. If it mentions a whole bunch of elements that I don’t like, then I probably won’t read it, but other than that, I’d rather read it and make up my own mind, unless it’s a review from a person I really, really trust. And if I’ve been anticipating this book for ages, I’m going to ignore EVERYBODY. Because I’m contrary like that.

  8. Kara, you’ve said it! Negative reviews don’t put me off at all. In fact, I like them. I like to see what tickles someone’s fancy, all the while turning off the next person. I don’t know, I’m just interested in all the aspects. I do have a blogger who has pretty much the same reading tastes as me and we warn each other of off-putting aspects, but we would never cut that book out as an option completely. We just put it on the back bench (because so much needs to be read LOL) Love the topic Kara! x

  9. This is a fascinating discussion Kara! If the things that the reviewer doesn’t like are my negative book triggers, and I’ve read consistent reviews from many, then I’d probably cross it off my list or push it further down the TBR pile. I think negative reviews are incredibly important to present an objective view of the book. Great topic lovely!

  10. Yep – I feel the same way! Though I love reading about other people’s opinions on books and do value them, I’m going to ultimately go with what I feel about whether to read a book or not. If it’s a majority of people commenting on the same issues they found however, I’m more likely to not put it as a priority to read. Great discussion Kara :)

  11. I do think negative reviews are valuable, although I have to admit that sometimes when I find a new exciting sounding book I’ll check out the negative review with soley the goal to make sure I don’t want to read it anymore. I am a critic and when I see people point out things I might not like in the mood I can quickly get convined I don’t want to read the book at all. It’s an easy method to add less books to my to-read list. Also the lowering of expectations can certainly be a good thing sometimes because with high expectations it’s easy to get disapointed.

    Sometimes negative review make me more likely to read a book, like when people complain about too much world building, then I think I love that, this sounds like a book for me. In most cases when people mention thigns they disliked which are things I do like.

    I do like writing a negative review now and then, sure it’s sad I didn’t enjoy it more, but it can be nice to write all your issues with a book down and even better when you find someone who thinks the same. Just like you I never met a reviewer who was 100% in synch with me, so that does mean that I can love books others dislike. Great post!

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