“If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” That old gem has been drilled into us from the day that we could talk. But how true is it for book reviewers?
In my opinion it isn’t true at all!
You see, as a reviewer I think I have a duty of care to my readers. I want the to know which books I recommend, but I also want them to know which books they should not touch with a ratty bookmark. If I hated a book then surely I have the right, and the duty to say why?!
It could be as simple as I didn’t enjoy the story, or I disliked the protagonist. Things that might not put another reader off reading it, yet give them the chance to make an educated decision about their reading time. Honesty, no matter how brutal, could help a reader choose between two books. We all know how that can be a time suck.
On the other hand, as a writer I have also been at the blunt end of some thorny critiques. In fact, as a part of my creative writing degree modules we had to both give and receive critiques. It was harsh, it stung…
…and it improved my writing.
You see, people who only ever hear the positive views of their work will never have reason to improve. Those who hear nothing will likely assume that no news is good news. But those who are given the critiques as a tool that they can learn from? They have an idea of what they need to work on in the future.
I am not saying that we should be nasty about everything we didn’t like about a book. But there is room for constructive criticism in a review for the benefit of both the readers and the writers.
What do you think? Should we only post nice reviews?