Saturday, April 23

Royal Rantings - I Hated This Book!


The satisfaction of finishing a good book is unparalleled. That smile if it all ended happily, the heartbreak if it didn't. The crushing feeling of disappointment tinged with a relief that you now know what exactly happened when you read the final book in a series you loved. But what if it all ended otherwise?

What if it ended with you simply hating the book?  



This is where reviews can actually help you vent all that pent up frustration. Now, don't get me wrong. Positive reviews, especially of books you loved, are no doubt fountains of joy and positivity, but doesn't it often come with the added necessity that the reader must have read the book being discussed? How else can one possibly relate to what you're trying to say? Sure, positive reviews help the reader find good books, worthwhile books and la-di-da- but that makes us veer slightly off the topic at hand. Coming back to negative reviews, now negative reviews don't come with any of that baggage. They provide you with- what shall I say- instant gratification.
Hey, before you go judging what I say, consider Festinger’s social comparison theory which states that in order to define ourselves, we oft compare ourselves to others. So, when a book is being bashed in a review, the reader might, for just those few short-lived seconds, feel elevated. Maybe it is a subconscious spitefulness that makes one enjoy negative reviews so much- be it writing one or reading one. Whether you've noticed this or not, it’s much more easier for the neutral reader to enjoy negative reviews and all the emotions that come along with it. They even come with the added advantage of making one feel good about oneself. You can go like, "Now, if only I were a writer, I could have come up with something far better. Gah."  

It goes without saying that for those who have already had the misery  joy of reading the wonderful book in question, such a review becomes the hand that wipes away the tears of joy the book gave them. These shared feelings actually act as catharsis for both the reviewer and the readers, for the apparently overwhelming chasm the book created in them. The fact that negative reviews actually help the reader and reviewer is something that need not be argued upon. 


Something interesting I've noticed in negative reviews is that they actually tend to bring out the best in the reviewer. They themselves seem to be exercising freedom in a way they rarely allow themselves to as they get to be at their witty best when toying with the idea of how to present a book that was a dreadful pile of sh** in an entertaining way to readers. Perhaps this is because we are always wary when offering our two pence, afraid of offending anyone over anything. (Need I even mention the list of things people find offending nowadays?) Therefore when a book comes along that is genuinely bad, that seems like it never once underwent the editing process, a savage review serves as a blast of fresh air. And that there, is exactly why it’s pure joy to indulge in a negative review. 

PS: Now that you've very patiently read all this, please also do know that I do understand all what authors go through to write a book and actually get it published and put out there for the world to criticize. I'd never bash a book simply for the fun of it- my Goodreads average rating would speak for itself. 

13 comments:

  1. I probably shouldn't admit this, BUT THIS POST IS REALLY RELATABLE. It's actually terribly gratifying to both write negative reviews and read other negative reviews, especially if the reviewer is complaining about the same things as you!! That being said, I don't really write a lot of negative reviews. Maybe I'm just a huge pushover ;)

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    1. You got exactly what I meant, Ranu! While I do find negative reviews to be extremely relieving, I don't go all out when bashing a book unless I really, truly can't find any redeeming factors in it. Otherwise I do take care to point out what exactly worked and what didn't for me when reviewing books that failed to impress :)

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  2. First off - hilarious self portrait on the banner! You did design it, didn't you?
    I see where you're coming from (and Festinger? Kudos for being the only reviewer I know who's ever included a psychologist's theory in a post. Of course, there's a logical reason for it LOL. But even then...). On the other hand, I can't seem to enjoy negative reviews that much. Most of the time, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Though I admit there are a few terrible books out there that should probably never have seen the light of day - dull story, lazy or uninspired writing - they are the minority, or so I hope. Most books just need to find the right reader who can relate to them. I would feel guilty if I bashed a book, and I feel uneasy when others do - in a witty way or not. To me, it's like the popular clique at school hitting on the outsider because he/she doesn't conform to their atandards. That's not to say one should always write positive reviews, godness forbid. But even when low-rating a book, I always go for the smooth way. At least when I'm talking about a particular book...because when one writes a general post about a whole genre/trope, there's more operating space, so to speak. At least for me :).

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    1. I don't know what I'd do without you to keep a track of where I "steal" my pictures from, Roberta! You're a lifesaver, you are! :D As is obvious, I did "design" it, but the actual picture, I found it for free download where I've linked the picture to.

      Festinger's was a simple enough theory, so I didn't think much about including it here :) I think you didn't get my point quite that well- I didn't simply talk about "enjoying" negative reviews, as in taking a sadistic pleasure from putting down someone else's years of hardwork. It's more about having the freedom to express your opinions, just as you would when writing positive reviews, and why negative reviews can actually help you. Yes, give it some thought and you'll find that they can actually be helpful! Take this ,for instance. You make time for a long-ass book that you've been waiting for so long, and you find it to be really bad. You'd feel frustrated and disappointed and what not- not to mention the time and effort you put into it, especially when you're not the type to easily DNF a book. In this scenario, you could choose to either not review the book and let all those feelings eat away inside you, talk to someone, or do what we book-bloggers do- write about it! Here you wouldn't be necessarily bashing the book for the fun of it or to come across as witty. You'd be simply putting into words why the book failed you and why you couldn't like it as much you expected. Catharsis, so to speak :) Isn't it only right that we get to exercise the same amount of freedom in negative reviews, what we get when writing positive reviews? That's my opinion anyway. To you be yours, and to me mine :)

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    2. LOL @ the banner thing.

      I did understand what you were going to say. I know it's not about bashing books for fun. You wouldn't be my friend if you did (HAHA). It's just that I don't enjoy writing negative reviews...

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  3. Interesting post Ruzaika! I'm one of those people who takes a bit of joy from writing negative reviews, like positive reviews, I just need to get my opinions out there. Now I don't write negative reviews to bash the author of course, but I think that it is healthy to get the negative feelings out sometimes!

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    1. True, true, true, so true! I LOVE it when people get exactly what I mean. Negative reviews bashing books simply for the "fun" of it are huge no-no from me- I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I reviewed a book without weighing down all the good and bad it has to offer. But yes, just as it is with positive reviews where we get to gush and rave and shower the author with compliments, I find it only fair that we should have as much freedom when writing negative reviews! Healthy, it definitely is!

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  4. Oh my goodness I love this post and you are so right! I completely agree that my best reviews are typically less than stellar reviews -- it's like I have to justify why I didn't like the book and so I go out of my way to break it down. Great post!!

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    1. Thanks, Eva! I suppose that's exactly why we tend to be at our best when we do negative reviews- we want the reader to know precisely why the book didn't work for us and so we pick it to pieces in a way we wouldn't have otherwise :)

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  5. 'subconscious spitefulness' LOVE the term, Ruzaika! And love the topic!

    I honestly think negative reviews are lovely. Sometimes when I read a truly awful book I have to vent - and other times I just read negative reviews for books I'm interested in. Actually, when I look into a book, I tend to check out the negative reviews over the positive ones. I want to know what problems other people had and they usually just seem like better written, more complete reviews.

    Though I have been trying to let go and DNF books that I can tell I won't like at all which has really reduced the number of negative reviews I personally write.

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    1. Thank you, Amy! I do so think negative reviews are such a blessing! I'm still trying to tell myself that it's okay to DNF a book, and not feel guilty about it, but I just hate giving up midway through. A real problem, yes! :(

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  6. I'm going to be honest and say that I rarely rate books negatively. It's not in my nature to really do so, even if a book deserves it, in my opinion. My negative opinions in reviews are often bulletpoints about certain parts of a book that bothered me that made me give it a low rating: lack of character depth; not enough plot; disgusting humor; etc. I do my best when I'm writing about those to not bash, but rather to just state my dislikes.
    Great topic!

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    1. I totally understand why negative reviews may not be your thing :)) I just find them to be a means of letting out all my frustration etc. about the book :) Not bashing for fun, but just letting my honest opinions out :D I do mention the redeeming points, if any, of course!

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