Everyone comes to a book with a different background. Those backgrounds are what help form their opinions. Some readers are extreme bibliophiles that read 200+ books a year. Because of this they’ve “seen it all” and are extremely hard to please. They’ve been hardened to plots and are searching for the next Da Vinci Code or Hunger Games. Anything below this level is trash. These types often post 1 and 2 star reviews on Goodreads. Then there’re the readers who are lucky to read 2 books a year. Their friend tells them about a book they “have” to read. They read and it and think it’s amazing. The best book they’ve ever read…because, well, they’re comparing it to a total of 10 they’ve read to date.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are the prudes that didn’t expect a steamy scene and pooh pooh the book on principle. There are the romantics who don’t think there’s enough love in the book. There are the conservatives who think there’s too much violence. Then, of course, there are the “would-be writers” who rip apart books because they want to flex their writing-God muscles for the world to see. And I haven’t even mentioned the trolls. People who go around and give 1-star reviews either for the fun of it or to bring down their competition (in the case of authors).
But here lies the real reason not to read reviews. You can’t “unread” them.
“Oh, but I’ll form my own opinion,” you say. “These reviews won’t bias me.”
I beg to differ.
When Twilight first came out, I had just started taking my writing seriously. I had A LOT to learn, and because of this, was still reading books with a “reader’s mind,” not a “writer’s mind.” For the first half of the book, I actually enjoyed it. I found the plot interesting and was sucked into Bella’s world. But then I made the mistake at peeking at the reviews. Immediately, the veil of innocence dropped from my eyes. People (most likely other jealous writers flexing their writing-God muscles) complained about the constant sighing, the repetition of words, the telling, and how whiny and weak-minded Bella was. When I went back to reading, I was broken. Errors glared at me as if highlighted with yellow marker. I rolled my eyes at every sigh and gritted my teeth at every word repetition. I hated Bella for being so co-dependent on Edward. Basically, I fell out of love with a story that I might have liked had I not read the reviews.
So when are reviews good? When they come from a legitimate book review blogger. There are hundreds, if not thousands, out there to choose from, not to mention the up and coming youtube book vloggers. Simply check out a few sites until you find one who covers books that interest you. Whether it’s YA, romance, erotica, whatever… Read a handful of reviews then check out the books for yourself. Do your opinions match? Like his/her writing style? Then you’ve found a reviewer to trust for life.
What are your experiences with reviews? Do you find they impact your opinion of books? Have you been successful in “unreading” them?