In the age of Facebook and Twitter and other forms of social media, there seems to be too much positivity going around, especially when it comes to book reviews. I know that this seems contrary to what most people think. After all, the web allows anyone to have an opinion, and a lot of people seem to find fault with, well, everything. There are people who will comment on blogs or websites just to stir things up. They enjoy being devilish, I think.
Of course, I’m being very general here. But the simple fact is that, in the book world, people are too positive. Aside from published book reviewers, a lot of people who review books online tend to be overly positive. It’s like they’re afraid of saying anything negative. This is especially true of hopeful writers who use sites like Goodreads or their personal blogs to review books by their peers. Maybe they’re afraid a bad review for a book will cast a dark shadow on their book once it is released. Maybe they just want to be seen as an ever-positive, friendlier-than-anyone-else writer. Whatever the reasons, I’m tired of it. (There are great book wanna-be author/reviewers out there, too! You just have to find the ones you trust.)
I’ve read a few great books recently. I’ve also closed my share of “bad” books after the first 25 pages or so. And yes, many of these books were given such glowing reviews, I was swayed into reading them. But what if I just wasn’t as wowed by a book as everyone else? What if it was just okay? What can I do about it? (Yes, I know many reviewers on Goodreads really DO post negative reviews. Sometimes too negative. I’m talking about balance.)
We’re able to “friend” people, to “like” posts and pages, to “follow”. Sometimes, I just want to say…“Meh, it was okay.” Sometimes I just want to “hate” a post, or “agree” with a comment, or “stalk for a short time to see if I’m really interested or not”. Why don’t we have those choices? Why can’t we be totally honest about how we feel? I guess social media is just that…social. If we had choices to be negative in any way, it would be anti-social media, right? And for the most part, the positivity is good. But sometimes, I just want to say I didn’t like it. Nothing more than that.
When the new J. K. Rowling book comes out, I’m sure there will be an inordinate amount of negative reviews, simply because people will want to dislike her book. Any author with such unprecedented success would have trouble living up to that standard, even if the next book is fantastic. Rowling will have an even harder time, I’m afraid, because her book is aimed at adults rather than children. Just another hurdle to overcome. (We see the same thing with “adult” authors who start writing for YA or middle grade–they’re judged by a different standard at that point. Fair? Not in the least, but that’s the way life works, I guess.)
So, the next time you feel underwhelmed by something, don’t be afraid to say it. You don’t have to spout negativity from the rooftops, but a simple “I didn’t love it” will get the point across just fine. A better online balance would emerge, rather than a skew toward something unattainable. Try it. See what happens.