If it can’t be fixed, then why criticize it?
Anyone who knows me knows I can be a tough critic. People usually love or hate me for it. In college and at work, many ask me to edit their writing because they know I’m going to criticize it to death. Others won’t even let me look at stuff they’ve written because they know I’m going to edit it to death. I had a roommate who wouldn’t let me glance at her college papers because she knew I read with a critical eye.
And it’s true, I do.read with a critical eye, but I don’t criticize everything I read. Sometimes a piece just wows me and leaves me speechless, and there’s literally nothing to criticize. All of my favorite books fall into this category. If I love something, I’m blind to anything that may be bad about it.
In general, I have a hard time criticizing published books. I don’t usually write bad reviews of books I don’t like. Why?
1) I’m not published. If a person has his or her book published, he or she is already eons ahead of me.
2) Why does my opinion even matter? Maybe I’m just not the author’s target audience, because hello, there are hundreds of thousands of reviews praising that same book. Obviously the book wasn’t written for me, and it’s unlikely the author will even read my feedback, and if they do, they’ll just roll their eyes since I wasn’t part of their target audience in the first place.
3) It can’t be fixed. Unless it’s an abundance of grammatical errors that puts me off (which has happened), it’s probably a boring narrator, a set of characters I can’t relate to, or a tedious cliche, predictable plot that puts me to sleep . Regardless of the reason the book isn’t my forte, it’s already in print, and the author had a vision for the story, and it can’t be fixed now. So why bother criticizing it?
If you ask me to beta your story before it goes to print, yes, I’m going to criticize to hell out of it unless I fall immediately in love with it and think it’s flawless. But I don’t leave critical reviews of published fiction (unless it’s to say you need a new editor because the grammar sucks). That’s just me, though.
What’s your take on giving bad book reviews?