A reviewer's dilemma

So, at the moment I am reading a book on Thor (not the book that is in the picture to the right, btw), which was sent to me by the author to read & review here. Only – 5 torturous chapters in, I am ready to slit my wrists & find myself wanting poke my eyes out & to scream “No more! I surrender!”

Yes, it really is that bad! So, the dilemma? Well, I have already stated on several occasions that I will be honest about my opinions of people’s books that I read, so saying I enjoyed this book is just not going to happen. I am tempted to email the author & tell them that I just don’t think I can review the book & give them the option of withdrawing their book, but is that the right thing to do, or even the fair thing to do? I think it’s a bit of a cop-out to me, my blog & to the people who may read it, but I don’t know how I can review this book & bite my tongue about it. I mean, I would be polite, but I would point out what was wrong & would have to give examples of why I feel the way I do about the book/writing. Is this wrong?

What should I do?



Filed under Relaxing reading

7 responses to “A reviewer's dilemma

  1. livingwithjoy

    I say be honest, but you’ve seen some of my tough reviews. People read reviews to find out if a book is worth reading. If you only write glowing reviews, it makes people want to read your reviews less. Good luck!

    • I tend to agree with you, but this book is so bad that I fear I will get some perverse pleasure in telling the world just how bad it is! It is an example of why self-publishing has a somewhat dubious record….

  2. I have the same dilemma. I’m half way through the dumbest story I’ve ever read. So do I give an honest review? I know the publisher gave me the book so it would help sales. My review won’t help sales. There’s no way I can pretend to like the book.
    I guess livingwithjoy has a good point. My review won’t help the writer or publisher make money but it will help people avoid wasting money on a stupid book.

    • Sharon, I guess as long as we are polite & true to our feelings then we have to be honest in our opinions of the books. I would feel too much of a hypocrite if I did otherwise – especially as I have posted negative reviews before. Only this book is probably the single worst book I have ever read…

  3. Can I comment as an author? (Not as the author of this book!) Clearly, from what you say, this book wasn’t ready for publication. Chances are, it hasn’t been vetted by a writing group or even an honest friend. If the author wasn’t able to see the folly of publishing without trying it out on a few readers first, s/he will gain little or nothing from an honest & critical review.

    If you want to warn readers and prevent them wasting their money, post a 1-star review on Amazon and speak your mind there.

    I voted for contacting the author and asking them if they want to withdraw their book. I think that’s the kindest thing to do. You could also offer to share briefly what you thought were the major shortcomings of the book. A serious author will take you up on that. If s/he doesn’t, then why give up valuable blog space reviewing someone who isn’t serious about being the best writer they can be?

    • Linda, that is an excellent reply! I don’t want to be negative & I am trying so hard to find something that I like about this book, but so far I have found nothing.
      I have been really torn cause I want to be honest to my blog readers, but I don’t set out to be hurtful & I really cannot see how I can say anything nice about this book – no matter how hard I might try to “pretty” it up.
      I haven’t voted, but I am inclined to take your advice & let the author make the decision.

      • I’ve taught a lot of writing workshops over the years and as you can imagine, the quality of the writing is er, variable. 😉 Some people are so talented, you want to fall down & worship; some people are so bad, you think, “Is there a polite way to say, ‘Don’t give up the day job’?”

        I’ve dealt with this by finding something to praise. A poorly constructed story might have original characterisation or an intriguing setting. I don’t think I’ve ever found nothing to praise, but then I’ve been dealing with students who are committed to writing as a career or hobby and who have the courage to submit their work to professional scrutiny.

        I know you will have looked hard for something to praise and you will have tried to think that it’s just not your cup of tea. But if you still can’t find anything to praise, then the book possibly shouldn’t have seen the light of day – yet. FWIW I don’t think it would be in any way dishonest or ducking the issue to decline to review or ask the author to make the call.

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