The other week I got a comment on an old one star review of mine on Goodreads from someone who had rated this particular book five stars and their opinion was that I had been unfairly harsh on the book. I obviously had to respectfully disagree with their take on the book and defended the stance that I had taken in my review…
But it got me wondering about one star reviews in general.
So today I want to ask what criteria does everyone have for rating a book one star? Or perhaps you do not even rate books that lowly? I know many people out there have a different opinion on one star reviews and their validity and that some people feel uncomfortable about rating someone else’s work so lowly.
But I have always been of the mindset that if I am to truly be an honest book reviewer then I have to be as comfortable giving out a low one star rating as I am at giving out a high five star one. Perhaps this stems from my nature to not DNF all that frequently and therefore I will continue to read a book I am not enjoying to its completion as I am always curious to see if a story will improve. And on the rare occasions that I do DNF I have a personal code that I will not give a rating unless I have read a minimum of a third of the book and would therefore have a true feel for the style of narrative, the types of characters and the various themes contained therein.
I know that for me book reviewing is a pleasant hobby whereas writing a book for an author is a job that pays their bills so I fully understand the implications that negative book reviews can have on authors’ lives. This is why I hopefully try to be as fair as I can in all of my reviews. And sometimes the reasons I will rate a book lowly (typically a 2/2.5 star review) will be due to personal taste and I do endeavour to make that clear in my reviews.
But if I find a book to be poorly written with both insipid characters and a flimsy or cliche-laden plot, or more importantly if I find it to be problematic in some way, then I feel it is my duty to be honest and to give my fair opinion. Because while it is important that authors can make their living from writing, it is also important that readers not spend their hard earned money on a book that will not be to their taste or on a book that reinforces a negative stereotype or a problematic theme/belief.
As I am someone who is a voracious reader and has written a review for virtually every book I have read since late 2015 I have amassed a number of one star reviews. And I do not feel uncomfortable with that fact. I think because each review that all of us book bloggers and reviewers write is subjective then ultimately the decision to read a book is always with the prospective reader. I know that there are many negative book reviews that I have read that still did not sway my choice to read a book. If I like the sound of the blurb and I like the first page or two that I will flick through in the bookshop (or the sample on a site like Amazon) then I will always go with my own gut instinct rather than that of another reviewer/blogger.
So I’m throwing the question out to all of you: how do you feel about one star reviews?
Are they necessary to show balanced opinion?
Or are they too disparaging of an author’s hard work?
Let’s chat in the comments below!