Do Negative Reviews Deter You? | Discussion

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Hi everyone! Today on the blog, I’m talking about the effect negative reviews have on personal reading experience. Let’s get started!

I recently read SJ @ A Tree Grows In Bookland’s post about bloggers being afraid of writing negative reviews, which led me to think, what effect do negative reviews have on other people? And should we allow that effect impact our own reading experience and keeping our unbiased perception of a book?

I have a lot of books on my TBR (I’m not kidding. There’s a lot), and I also follow a bunch of people and their reviews. It’s not that I want to read a negative review of a book I’ve been anticipating for who knows how long, but sometimes it’s inevitable. Sometimes I’m intrigued and I read the negative review and then I actually consider taking the book off my to-read list.

But how can one negative review out of hundreds, thousands maybe, deter me from reading the book and enjoying it as if I hadn’t read it? How can one person’s opinion, no matter how strong and cogent the argument is, change mine so quickly? And shouldn’t readers, and bloggers especially, be unbiased to books and other readers’ perception of them?

It’s interesting to see how other bloggers react to negative reviews. I constantly mentions of other reviews in bloggers’ reviews, saying how they had lower expectation because this blogger didn’t like it or how they weren’t going to read it but ended up liking it anyway. But where does the line stand between keeping a generally unbiased outlook and trusting personally valuable opinions and other bloggers’ viewpoints? Where is the demarcation between keeping a distance from reading a review but also wanting to get a general outlook on the book? If we should always keep our distance from reading reviews and general opinions of the book, does that mean we should always go into a book empty-handed and open?

So I’m confused. I’m a little scared to pick up this majorly hyped-up book that I’ve had my eye on for a while and I’m a bit afraid to read this new release that I was so excited to read. Personally, I know that I shouldn’t allow a few negative reviews deter me from reading books that I’ve had interest in, but I think that no matter what, it’s always going to nag at me.

Of course, I’ve come up with the solution that I nonetheless will read these books despite the fact that they got a few negative reviews. Besides, I’m pretty sure every book has a whole spectrum of ratings. I just realize that I’m going to have higher expectations for them just to compare the actual book to the negative review. Moral of the story (for me, at least): don’t read bad reviews for a book. Why? Because they may deter you from a good reading experience and affect you more than you may want to admit.

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Have you ever been discouraged from reading a book because of a negative review? Did you decide to read that particular book? What thoughts do you have? Let me know in the comments!

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43 thoughts on “Do Negative Reviews Deter You? | Discussion

  1. Interesting post! I tend to be put off by negative reviews only if the person’s reason for not liking it is something which has frustrated me in other books (like a particular trope or cliche, for example). Also if I read a negative review, I try to read around to see what people on the other side are saying about the book before I make my mind up. I try to keep in mind that everyone likes different things and measures how much they like a book in different ways, because there are plenty of books I’ve loved that other people hated and vice versa.

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  2. I guess it depends on the book, for my most anticipated reads I’ve absolutely no interest in reading ANY reviews because I’m 100% sure I’ll be reading them no matter what other bloggers say, and I like going in blind. For other books I do read negative and positive reviews to help me know if it’s a book I want in my TBR. And other times it has happened to me that I read a negative review for a book from one of my favorite bloggers and I’ve instantly taking it out of my TBR. And I guess I like to trust my instinct! Haha but yeah like you said, I’ve also thought about those books I might not read because of a bad review, but now I’m a firm believer that if I’m meant to read a certaing book, the time will come. And great post btw!!!

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    • That makes sense! I do put a lot of emphasis on trusted bloggers, but I try to keep my neutrality. I definitely understand where you’re coming from when you say that you just don’t read reviews for your most anticipated books! Thank you, Estefani!

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  3. I try not to let negative reviews influence my reading choices, but there have been times where it has. For example, if I have a book in my TBR I was uncertain about reading in the first place, I’m more likely to take it off my list if it has negative reviews. But that’s only happened a few times.

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  4. I tend to read them and notice their ratings but if it’s a book I’m really interested in then I’ll read it anyway because I always say it’s best to make your own opinion about something because everyone is different. And when I share negative reviews I make sure to reiterate that to anyone who comments. Similar book tastes are great but it’s not always certain that what I like and someone else likes is the same

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  5. It depends on the content of the review. Sometimes, a negative review has made me want to read the book more because the things the person didn’t like are things I love… often a positive review can deter me if a person loves the book for reasons that wouldn’t be good for my own experience.
    I try to skim reviews before buying a book, but I don’t usually read them right before I read just in case it makes me notice things I might not usually notice.
    However, if I DO read a review and look for things and don’t see them or don’t think it’s a big deal, my reviews are much more passionate because I knew to expect something and yet, it didn’t negatively affect my reading experience.
    Great discussion.

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  6. For me it depends ! If I trust the reviewer’s opinion and I know that their tastes are close to mine and also if the book gets A LOT of bad reviews I won’t waste my time on it but other than that, no, it doesn’t discourage me !

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  7. To be honest, I don’t think negative reviews impact me too much. I know that it’s impossible for anyone to write a book that absolutely everyone enjoys and I also know that I tend to like the majority of the books that I read. I think reading negative reviews makes me more likely to notice or be critical of whatever that review pointed out as something the reader disliked, but it doesn’t really make me less likely to read it. The only way that happens is if I have read/seen a LOT of negative reviews. But I can definitely understand why people wouldn’t want to read a book after reading a negative review, especially if they have a lot of books on their TBR and don’t want to waste time reading a book they aren’t going to like.

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    • That’s really interesting! I tend to notice things in books noted in negative reviews more too. I agree; I would much rather read a book that I’m going to like, and I suppose the negative reviews can help me pinpoint those books.

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  8. For me, I think it all depends on who wrote the negative review. There are bloggers that I follow that I have very similar reading taste to. So if they aren’t liking a book and write a negative review and mention things that would also get on my nerves, that may deter me from reading the book. However, there are also quite a few reviewers that have very different taste than me. So when they write a negative review, I more just feel bad that they didn’t enjoy the book, but it doesn’t at all make me not want to still read it. Great discussion! 🙂

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    • Great point! I definitely think a lot of it has to do with other bloggers’ reading tastes. Especially with books I adore, I agree, I do feel bad that they didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you, Lisa!

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  9. I think with me it depends on how many negative reviews I see, how interested in the book I was in the first place, and who the review is from.
    At the moment, I’ve seen quite a few bad reviews for Red Queen, so I’m hesitant to pick it up. Though it does sound like something I’ll enjoy so I know I will eventually get round to it.
    If the review is from somebody with really similar reading taste to me though, their opinion will have a pretty big affect on me. While I do remember that it’s just their opinion and mine might be completely different, it does discourage me.

    Most of the time though, negative reviews don’t bother me. I just wish that they would have enjoyed the book more!

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  10. I’ve had it both ways. I’ve read really hyped up books that I didn’t enjoy so I wrote not necessarily a bad review but just a “it didn’t meat expectation” review. And I’ve also been really excited for a book and read a bad review for it. I think it works both ways. I know we shouldn’t let one persons opinion change our plans but depending on what they had to say and how much they didn’t like the book (and what elements they didn’t like) it could make you realize that it may not be what you originally had in mind. But overall it’s inevitable that once you see someone dislike a book it will be easier to admit you didn’t like it as well because you won’t be the only one, or you won’t even read it because you will be afraid of wasting precious reading time on a bad book.

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  11. AGHH I’m super guilty of this. There are so many books on my shelf that I’ve deterred from or taken down from high priority to lower because of negative reviews. I think it’s just inevitable, honestly. Everyone is going to have a different opinion and everyone wants people to hear theirs. There’s a huge give and take involved in these situations and it’s just a repetitive cycle, I think. I personally think we should all give books a respectful chance, despite the reviews we read but at the same time it just feels like its hardwired into my brain to be wary of it possibly being bad and disappointing me 😂

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  12. The only time I’ve had a negative review turn me away is if it highlights points that I wouldn’t enjoy reading in the first place, but aren’t in the blurb… if that makes sense? That and if there has been something really messed stuff that happened around the book (like “No One Else Can Have You”). Otherwise, I kind of just take it with a grain of salt and read the book anyway.

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  13. Ooh, I love this discussion post! To answer your questions, I don’t think there has been a review that has put me off a book completely. The review might have made me put the book off for longer, but I find that in the end, if I want to read it, I usually do anyway!

    If anything, negative reviews and criticisms just make me more critical of the book – which isn’t a bad thing, I guess. I’m just more aware to its flaws, and from there I can discern whether I agree or not.

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  14. I think that’s true but at the same time I kinda like to see negative reviews. I can think of a couple books in the last month or so that I was anxious for, and some negative reviews from bloggers I trusted gave me second thoughts. In fact one I decided not to read after seeing a few reviews that said the same thing- and it was their concerns that convinced me because they were talking about things i know I wouldn’t have liked either. S I like to read reviews, good or bad, about books I’m thinking about so I have an idea going in.

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  15. Well, this is a very good question!

    I think that yes, negative reviews definitely do deter me from reading a book. But not in the sense that if I see one 2-star review, I won’t pick up a book. If it’s a book I’m interested in, I often wait for a couple of my favourite bloggers to review it, and if the general opinion is less than favourable, I usually give it a pass. But if one blogger deviates from the average (like if most of the people I trust say it’s a 4-star read and one of them goes for a 2-star review), I’ll usually read the review carefully to see what disturbed them the most.

    I do write negative reviews on my blog, though I always try to … be polite, somehow. I don’t like angry snark or comments on the author’s intelligence or whatever – those aren’t the kind of blogs I read, so I don’t write such stuff on mine, either. But I think negative reviews are important – there has to be some balance! 🙂

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    • That’s a good point! And I definitely agree, negative reviews are something to have, but it’s super imperative that you don’t hurt other people’s feelings or make them feel awful! Thank you for the input! 🙂

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  16. To be honest, yes, negative reviews do deter me, but only a little. Negative reviews are actually pretty useful for me. Before I buy a book or request an ARC, I always look for negative reviews first, so I could know what to expect from the book (like whether it contains love triangle or not, etc.). Most of the times, I still end up buying/reading the book, and if the book I’m planning to buy/read turns out have some aspects that I dislike, then I won’t waste my time and money on it. Anyway, great post!

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  17. I definitely have been discouraged from reading a book because of negative reviews — especially if it’s a blogger I know, I trust or have very similar taste with. The first thing I do when considering buying a book is to look on GR and see my friends’ reviews — that will usually make me decide whether to buy a book or not. Great post!!

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  18. My answer to this is really, it depends. Sometimes I’m swayed by negative reviews especially if I see a slew of them OR if a blogger who I really tend to trust and agree with often posts one. If there’s a book that I’ve been looking forward to but then it gets a bunch of negative (or even meh) reviews, I’ll often put the book aside for awhile and come back to it much later. That way the negativity isn’t fresh in my head. Sometimes I eventually book and enjoy it and sometimes it’s just meh for me, but at least I wasn’t going into the book feeling negative about it.

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    • That’s true. I hadn’t thought about how to approach books that have negative reviews, but you bring a good point! I think I would enjoy those books better if I didn’t go in with really low expectations. Thank you for the input! 🙂

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  19. It depends on what the reviewers say are the reasons they didn’t like the book. If they say there is something in the book that I know would make me mad or disgust me, I will take their words on it and skip the book.

    Other times, I’m not deterred entirely. I might just drop that book in terms of priority. I’ll get to it eventually, but not as soon as other books that have great reviews.

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