Friday Feature: Why are good reviews so hard to write?

For my first proper Friday Feature– a weekly post in which I’ve decided that basically anything goes – I want to get something off my chest.

Why is it so hard to write good reviews?

I don’t know why, but when I LOVE a book, like seriously love it, I find it really hard to construct a decent review.

Is it just me? Is it because I’d rather slag something off than think about what I liked about it?

It’s easy to have a rant, whether it’s a good rant or bad one, but to seriously review a book you’ve loved is pretty daunting. Take Twilight for example (yes, you’re allowed to snort in derision), I love it and I’ve read it a really embarrassing amount of times, yet I completely agree that it’s trashy, often derivative and full of really unattractive character traits.

I might agree with a lot of the bad press it gets but I still love it and I have no idea why. So I’ve never written a review of it. (It is however one of the books on my Rereads Challenge so you can laugh at my attempt at some point!)

So guys, I’m opening it up for discussion, feel free to tell me if I’m just weird:

Do you prefer to write good or bad reviews (I’m guessing most of you will say good reviews, because you’re all so lovely), and which do you find easiest to tackle?

Author: lipsyy

Creative Writing graduate. A Northerner in London. I probably love books a bit too much. Also enjoy vampires, unicorns, man love, tennis & can't get enough of trashy teen novels. I find myself thinking 'What Would Buffy Do?' way too frequently. HIYA!

15 thoughts on “Friday Feature: Why are good reviews so hard to write?”

  1. For me, writing a five star review, and writing a one star review (well, 2.5 – I have never written a one star review) are the easiest. It’s very easy for me to go on and on and fangirl and squeal like a tween when I love a book. I love pointing out every single thing that I loved about the book. But, it’s also easy for me to go on and on and hate and scream like a harpee when I hate a book. I love pointing out every single thing that I hated about the book.
    The harder reviews for me to write are the ones I feel mediocre about. The ones that I just simply liked. There aren’t any things to rave about and there aren’t any things to hate on, so I have to try and come up with reasons why I didn’t love or hate the novel; if that makes sense. Why did I just ‘like’ it? What didn’t I love about it, but why didn’t I hate those things? yeah, the mediocre reviews are definitely the hardest to write for me.

    1. I’ve never really thought about mediocre reviews. I guess I find them easy because I like having things I liked and didn’t like so I can write a balanced review. Maybe that’s it, I don’t like writing rave reviews because I always think there must be something bad about it that I’m missing. But I guess if you like something, you just like it regardless!

      Thanks for getting involved 🙂

  2. There are some books that are really hard to write reviews for – genre fiction is a good example. There are so many really good romances and crime novels out there, but how do I explain why this book I am reading is so much better than the other crime novels or romances out there.

    Ultimately the difference between a so-so book and a good one in genre fiction is very slight.

    1. Yeah that’s very true! Especially when you know a book is not very unique but because you love the genre you love it regardless. How to express that in a review is so hard!

  3. I’m exactly the same. I think it’s a lot easier to bitch about negatives critically than it is to praise something. Whenever I like a book all I can think to talk about without spoilers is “the author’s writing style, the characters, the world-building and the pace”. And even then, all I can think of to say is “…it was good!” But when there are negatives, holy cow, I will rant about anything and everything and often have to reign it in and remember that not everybody wants to critically discuss how one sentence annoyingly brushes off the portrayal of rape culture and slut shaming in an in-depth discussion.

    1. hahaha! I’m sooooooooooo glad it’s not just me! My 5-star reviews are always so vague. I’m like OMG I LOVE THE PROTAGONIST. 5/5! I really need to work on that.

      I guess it’s a lot easier to point out mistakes and things that don’t work than things that are great because you just get swept along with it and don’t think about it critically at all. I certainly don’t anyway.

      1. Exactly, I’m actually having that problem right now while writing my review for Lindsey’s Shattered Souls. Originally really enjoyed it two years ago and gave it 4 stars. With the sequel coming out this month, I re-read the original to remind myself of it.

        But now, I can barely give it three stars because this time all I could see were all of the disturbing borderline-abusive-relationships and sociopathic tendancies, stuff which I originally completley normalised when I read it two years ago.

        Now I’m torn between being a responsible and critically thinking adult to “oh will you relax, it’s just a book!”.

        It’s so much easier to just go along with the book and enjoy it, but uni has ruined me haha. I’m glad though, because I find it scary when people do normalise all of these behaviours in fiction, because I’m scared people will normalise it in real life too.

  4. I agree, writing a review on a book you love is hard! Most of the time it’s because I can’t quite describe why I love it. When I write a review on a book I didn’t like, then I know exactly why I didn’t like it and it’s much easier to explain! I wish it were easier to write a review on a book I loved!

  5. I am totally with you on this one. I honestly prefer to write bad reviews as I feel like I have more to say. When I love a book, I get so involved in it, that I don’t take the time to pick it apart. But when a book is bad, I find myself making a list of what I don’t like about it and including those points in my review. My bad reviews also tend to be somewhat lengthier than the good ones. ~Deanna

  6. Mid-range reviews are definitely the easiest to write because you can balance good bits and not so good bits. Top ratings are the hardest because it is quite hard why all the elements “speak” to you. Great post 🙂

    1. The next book I LOVE I’m going to try really hard to figure out why I loved it and see how it goes!

      Thanks everyone for getting involved. I love a good book discussion!

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