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March 27, 2013

I have a dilemma. It’s short, barely even blog worthy, but too long for twitter.

I’ve just finished a memoir that I didn’t love. I didn’t hate it either though. It was just “eh”. And so safe. I read so many reviews that gushed about how wonderful and innovative and intense it is. While the story is intense, the way it’s told… isn’t.

Someone has to write a dissenting opinion, right? 

Wrong! I know how much reviews on sites like amazon and goodreads make a difference to an author and I would hate my one review to be the one that discourages someone from buying the book. I mean, the more people who buy a book- any book- the better, right?

What would you do?

What should I do?

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Shannon permalink
    March 27, 2013 3:44 pm

    Dissent away

  2. March 27, 2013 3:45 pm

    Since I started writing, I’ve found myself loathe to post a negative review of even the most horrible books. Because someone worked hard on them, and loves them, you know? And I just don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike. But I still read the gif-ed up one-stars on Goodreads, and laugh where no one can see me.

  3. Aayesha permalink
    March 27, 2013 3:45 pm

    write the review! everyone is entitled to their own opinion 🙂

  4. Amy permalink
    March 27, 2013 3:46 pm

    I would want an honest review with clear statements to back up the reasons over a review that just follows what everyone else is saying any day!

  5. March 27, 2013 3:51 pm

    Dear Clementine,

    Let me tell you that even though you think this post isn’t blog worthy, I rate it 4/5. (mainly because I want to know which book is it you read)

    I would say that everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? The right not to love a movie or not (30 Rock, The Rural Juror, can’t help but think about that episode), or the way you’re acting (or any other actor’s skills for that matter)/

    I often read the reviews before I buy, well, all the time. The thing is, I never write them. But I think I would like to see who did love this memoir and who did not. Just be honest, and remind the reader that it is your own opinion, and that the potential buyer shouldn’t base their opinion on this review only.

    I know you can do it. 🙂

    Best regards from France

    A very satisfied Clementine Ford reader.

  6. Angie permalink
    March 27, 2013 3:58 pm

    Leave an honest review and why you felt the way you did. Honestly when I see book reviews and they are all good I often wonder if they are real reviews or fakes to make the book out to be better than what it is.

  7. iliveinmyheadmostofthetime permalink
    March 27, 2013 4:02 pm

    I believe that it’s possible to write a “negative”, for lack of a better word, review without it being totally “negative”. What I would do is be honest about how it made you feel but don’t say blatantly negative or mean things. I think there a way to highlight the positives while being honest about the negatives. I have found you to be a great writer and know that you are capable of writing something even and honest.

  8. Rach permalink
    March 27, 2013 4:03 pm

    Surely if someone publishes something then they are open to constuctive criticism? How do we better ourselves if we are praised for everything even if it is not worth the praise.

  9. Calli permalink
    March 27, 2013 4:46 pm

    I say post it!! You have the right to your own Opinion good or bad! So post what you feel is right as I’m sure your not the only one to feel that way about the book!

  10. March 27, 2013 5:43 pm

    I would not write it. Somebody worked hard on it, and even though you may not like it, to diss it in such a public space may hurt that person’s sales…not to mention the author’s feelings. Books don’t HAVE to be bought; if a person wants to buy it and doesn’t know about your review, well…caveat emptor.

    That being said, if a friend or acquaintance were to ask, “What do you think of X’s memoir?,” I would tell the truth. The first situation is a public humiliation that you don’t have to do. The second situation is a private conversation with somebody who is (more or less) trusting you to tell them your truth.

  11. March 27, 2013 6:10 pm

    I just came home from my friend’s book reading of her latest anthology and I think of the issue you describe now that many close friends have shown me the importance of the online reviews as they approach their new releases. I think you should give high stars keeping in mind the effort, business and intentions of the work so that you don’t ding the scores all together with a weighted grade. In the comments you could leave constructive thoughts about what areas you hope to see become more daring, deep and broad in the writer’s future. Especially for memoir, it can’t be easy become vulnerable and revealing yourself completely.

    I appreciate that you are so thoughtful about practical impact as well as emotional branch people go on in the creative end of making your heart work available to the world.

  12. Erin permalink
    March 27, 2013 6:11 pm

    I would write the review. Although someone worked hard on that book and loves it, everyone has a right to their own opinion. And I would want honest feedback good or bad. And people who are thinking about buying it should have a chance to read reviews of all. Likes and dislikes.

  13. March 28, 2013 2:19 am

    Everyone is entitled to express their opinion. You can be negative….just don’t be a dick.

  14. March 28, 2013 11:42 am

    Coming from a different perspective, I was called upon to write a letter of recommendation for an employee whose work was clearly sub-par. First, I flatly told her that I would rather not provide a letter. However, she insisted. And from this encounter I’ve developed a phrase which has served me well; “Mary’s work simply must be seen to be believed!”

  15. March 31, 2013 1:36 pm

    This doesn’t answer the question of your dilemma but because of you I read “Rules of Inheritance” – I will forever be grateful

  16. April 3, 2013 5:02 pm

    I feel very strongly about not bashing the work of people who work really hard, and do so with integrity, in creative pursuits (writing, music, photography, etc.). That said, finding a piece of work really is not your cup of tea & saying so is not necessarily bashing. And possibly preventing others who might really HATE the work would actually possibly be beneficial, both to those potential readers & the author. Nobody works in a creative endeavor in order to end up with dissatisfied customers, clients, audience members, etc., after all.

    Also, what SB said.


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