I’ve been writing book reviews on this blog since 2013, and I’ve stuck to my every-third-book schedule faithfully since then. However, you might have noticed that there haven’t been any new reviews posted for the last couple months, here or on my Goodreads.
It isn’t that I’ve gotten lazy, or that I’ve been blasting through books too quickly to review them. (Although both those things could very well have been true if I’d kept up my reviews as planned.) The issue at hand is that I don’t really feel comfortable posting less than favorable reviews anymore.
I realized this about a month ago, when my next book to review ended up being something I’d disliked. At first, my negative reaction didn’t seem like a problem. I had a set of valid, well-thought out reasons for not enjoying the story, and I was eager to talk about them. Discussing a novel I have strong feelings about–no matter what kind of feelings we’re dealing with–is always more fun than talking about a book that I found mediocre. Some of my past reviews have focused more heavily on the story’s flaws than the things that worked well, and I tend to enjoy those reviews more too.
Just to clarify: I’m not a flamer. I don’t take potshots at the writer in any capacity. I don’t link authors to negative reviews, harass them, or cause them any trouble online. I focus strictly on the writing and what is or isn’t working for me.
And in all honesty, I’m not sure that’s good enough.
You see, I’ve debated about whether to leave uncomplimentary reviews online or not. I’ve flip-flopped over whether to post them online in the first place. And for the year and a half that this self-imposed review project has been ongoing, I’ve convinced myself that it’s okay if I exercise my free speech as long as I’m not an asshole. For the most part, I still believe that. But as an aspiring author and sideline member of the publishing community, I know that this industry is too small for me to be overly critical of anyone else’s work without consequences.
Even if I never openly badmouth anyone, I don’t think over-critical negativity is the kind of first impression I want to make. I could end up working with the same agent or editor as the author whose book I openly disliked. Hell, I could end up meeting those authors or sharing social circles with them at some point in time. Better to begin with a clean slate if I’m ever fortunate enough to break into publishing.
This isn’t the end of my book reviews by any stretch. Just a necessary PSA that from here on in, I only plan to post the positive ones. 🙂