One Star Reviews – A Discussion

Bookish Discussion

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.

What are your criteria for rating a book one star?

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.

Why I give one star ratings

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!

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66 thoughts on “One Star Reviews – A Discussion

  1. I think everyone should be honest in their oponion when giving a review of any kind.
    I have only recently started writing reviews on books that I have read as since publishing my first novel I realise how important reviews are. All constructive critisism is important feedback to the author and can help an author improve.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with this! One star reviews are needed and of course there are people out there who will abuse the system, but honest feedback is important. I recently gave a two star review to a book whose author had requested I review it and they proceeded to rate all of my own books two stars despite never having read them. It’s unfortunate, but it won’t stop me from reviewing honestly. I really admire your stance on this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh that was entirely petty of them!!! Very disrespectful. It calls to mind people who rate books before they’ve even come out, I don’t understand how anyone can think it’s acceptable to rate a book they have not yet read. Strange…
      I will always give my ratings as I see fit. I know a lot of people think I have a lot of one star ratings but in proportion to the number of books I’ve read in my lifetime it’s not really that many. I think it’s all about integrity as a person and as a reviewer. If I’m not honest about the books I dislike then that to me somehow mars ratings on the books that I love. Thanks so much for commenting Rosie :)))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a weird culture! But like you say, if it affects the livelihood of a person, it has to be a honest, not malicious or even indifferent motivation.

        I totally agree, to curb our reviews for any reason is to compromise our integrity. Great post! I’ll be sure to keep up to date on your posts!


  3. I’m not sure if I’ve given one star to something. Usually it’s 2 because I can find one positive about a book, even if I dnf it (which is rare). I try not to rate a dnf unless I’ve read 30% or more (usually 40%+). This is a great post! I know a lot of people are free with 1 and 2 stars and that is totally cool. I’m just not as picky and tend to rate pretty high overall.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great discussion! I am of the mindset the negative reviews have their place. They’re useful for helping readers determine if they’ll like the style, content etc. of a book. I think so long as the review is respectful and has valid points of issue with the book (not just “I didn’t like it”) it’s fine.
    That being said I’ve seen several authors request to not be tagged in these reviews which I agree with. After so much hard work it’s a relief to publish. They do expect to come across bad reviews but probably don’t need it shoved in their face by tagging them. I’m of the opinion the review is primarily for the reader, not the author anyway.
    All that being said, I don’t generally use stars on my blog when I review. I prefer to discuss the book and end with who and if I would/wouldn’t recommend it to. I find Stars a bit arbitrary and unreliable at times (some books don’t compare that well. What a 3 star for me might be a 5 for someone else)

    Great post! Really interesting reading everyones comments too!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I agree with you about not tagging authors in negative reviews. If an author wants to seek out reviews of their work then okay but I can’t imagine being tagged in a negative review can be nice for anyone. Thanks so much for your comment Steph :)))

      Liked by 1 person

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