Not to be crass or anything, but opinions are like assholes. EVERYONE HAS ONE.
So why do people constantly assume that their opinion is “right?” That their opinion is the only one acceptable to have? I feel this way about everything in life – opinions are just that. People need to learn the difference between fact and opinion. But today I’m going to discuss this in the bookish world.
A while back, Asti @ Oh, the Books! made the post There is no “perfect” book or “right” rating. It really resonated with me, because it’s something that has crossed my mind countless times. One of her points was:
- Someone comments on a person’s review (whether Goodreads or blog) and argues how that person is wrong in their rating.
I’m going to elaborate on this particular point, because it’s something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a LONG time.
I am a very, VERY honest rater and reviewer. If I hate something, I’m going to say so in a vocal and blunt manner. Sometimes even sarcastically (that’s just who I am!). I will never disrespect the author, but the book is fair game. Apparently, it pisses people off. (Not that I’m new to pissing people off with voicing my opinions.)
First of all, if you’re putting something on the market, you have to be open to criticism. Not everyone is going to like the same thing. There is probably NOTHING in this entire universe that every single person likes. There will always be someone somewhere that doesn’t like it. You can’t please everyone. Yes, I understand that books are the authors’ “babies” because they spent so much time and effort writing them. I wrote a book once – I get it. I do. BUT. When you publish a book you have to let the negative reviews roll off of your back. In fact, you probably shouldn’t even read the reviews in the first place. Reviews are for consumers, not authors.
I digress. I got a little off track there, because that wasn’t the point of this discussion. (I just feel very passionate about this topic, okay?!)
My main point is this: I have a particular review of mine that receives a LOT of inflammatory, sometimes outright rude comments. My review of Zom-B by Darren Shan. I despised that book so much that I couldn’t bear to finish it. I did skim to the end, finding out the “twist” of the story, but it still didn’t make all of the horrible things that the MC did acceptable. It was an abrasive story in my opinion. But, Darren Shan fans are apparently hardcore. I cannot tell you how many comments I received on Goodreads and my blog (back on ASR on Blogger, so they are no longer accessible), calling me “dumb” for not understanding, saying I was “wrong,” etc. Comment after comment. Even the author himself commented to try to explain what he was trying to do with the story. He was polite, but it was still very awkward. It got to the point that any time I’d get a notification of a new comment on that review I would sigh and roll my eyes, thinking, “Oh boy, now who’s going to call me stupid?” It got to the point that I almost thought about taking the review down just so I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.
I should not have to feel ashamed for my opinion.
I always, always give specific reasons with examples for why I don’t like something. And, there’s things that may irritate me that may not irritate others. It all goes back to that one word: opinion. That’s all it is! I don’t understand why people take it so freaking personally when you hate a book that they loved. If you see a review like that, even if it ticks you off, LEAVE IT ALONE. It’s fucking ignorant to comment and tell someone that they’re stupid or wrong for not liking something.
Has this ever happened to anyone else?
OH I LOVE THIS POST. I JUST WISH TO SAY YES! AND YES AGAIN! I 1000% agree with you. But this: “Reviews are for consumers, not authors.” .>
So it looks like only half my comment posted?!! (You can delete this if it all turns up, lol!) I just was saying “Reviews are for consumers, not authors” <– Best and most profound thing ever. I think it's GOLD. I think we sometimes forget and think we're critiquing the author to help them be "better writer". but it's not really for them. It’s so people who have similar tastes as us in books know what to read, right?!! After all: we are all so different in what we want to read. And one person’s favourite book is someone else’s worst. I absolutely adored this post, Jessi!!
Ugh, it’s so annoying when people judge someone for their opinion. Even if you didn’t give a specific reason and just said you hated the book, you should be able to do so without getting a shitload of comments on it. That’s the beauty from the community for me; everyone reads a book in their own way and it’s fun to see different opinions. You can always discuss the book if you think differently about it, that’s fun, but trying to point out why someone is wrong? THAT is wrong.
I read the title of this post and thought it was going to go in a different direction. I was all set to comment on it. Can I comment anyway? It’s mostly related. *fired up*
I get bugged to hell and back when people say “no opinion is wrong” in order to excuse bad writing. Like, “well, I like this, and therefore you can’t tell me it’s not a good book.” While I get what they’re saying, I still think it’s not *that* much up for debate to say stuff like “the writing was really stilted” or “the character was a raging racist asshole” or “it was extremely derivative of this other novel.” People can still like the book, but there’s a difference between liking a book calling it a quality piece of work. I think there are at least a few subjective standards for ‘good.’
But to your point, while it does bother me on a very irrational and emotional level when people rate books and I think “you’re wrong!” I would never actually say that. Because I know it’s just a knee-jerk reaction, not something real. Ratings are different things to different people, and a lot of people rate emotionally, based on enjoyment rather than…well, any other standard. I know I do that. I’ve rated books that were objectively perfectly fine with 3 stars and the only excuse give was “it just didn’t grab me.”
I hate when people freak out over negative reviews because they claim they’re concerned about the author’s feelings. No author can actually expect to get entirely positive reviews. Even the “classics” are hated by tons of people. Besides, the authors have probably gotten countless criticisms on the book during the actual process of writing it and getting it published. That’s how the book developed in the first place. I don’t think criticism is ever entirely easy to take, but I’m pretty sure authors are some of the people who develop the skills to handle it rather well if they’re going to succeed as writers. Negative reviews should help them grow as writers (although, I should clarify, I’m talking legitimate negative reviews, not trolls or anything like that) if they even have any single effect on the writer at all.
But yes, I have a strong reaction whenever I read negative reviews for my favorite books too. I think it’s a human thing to immediately want every single person in the world to like what you like, and it’s just hard for you to process how they couldn’t because you can only see the good things about it. And I think it’s fine to start a conversation with someone and discuss what you liked versus what they didn’t like and how you saw things differently. I think those conversations can be very interesting if you’re both open to the others opinion and civil. Attacking someone though is never okay.
I so agree! I haven’t had this happen to me thankfully – though I did recently have an author AND narrator leave comments explaining why I shouldn’t have given up on a book (at 50%) because it got better and that I was missing the point. I chose to ignore the comments and not respond, but I was pretty exasperated – if I didn’t get it, that doesn’t mean my opinion of the book was wrong – I just felt differently about it. If authors must read negative we reviews they realm need to know how to let them roll off of them! Great post Jessi – I so agree!
So true – we all have an opinion, and that’s what it is. It isn’t right or wrong, it is just what we think about a particular topic. But there are always going to be trolls to cause trouble.
I’m sad that this even needs to be addressed! Disagreeing is fine, being an ass about it isn’t.
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Ha. If I had a penny for every single time someone tells me I’m wrong in my review, I’d never have to work. I also LOVE it when they tell me I should read the rest of the series, because everything I’ve addressed in my review will be answered. But if I *do* read the rest of the series and hated it, then someone’s bound to ask me why I continued if I didn’t even like the first book (-__-)
you can never win with these people…
Have you seen the piece in The Guardian today about the author who stalked a book blogger for giving her a bad review? This made me think of that.
I write whatever I like. My review of Panic by Lauren Oliver was basically a big rant about how stupid it was. I don’t even care. It’s your blog do what you want and ignore the people who don’t accept it!
Oh gosh, yes. It’s really scary to think about!
Exactly!! Ugh, Panic was AWFUL. I don’t understand how so many people enjoyed it >.<
[…] Jessi says no opinions are “wrong”. […]
Luckily, I haven’t had such an affair yet, but I have heard bloggers talking about it. I strongly believe people should be able to share their opinions without criticism. A respectful debate can be fun, but dissing is hurtful and should be banned. They tell your opinion is wrong, but the only wrong opinions is the one expressed through hateful words.
I will admit that I have never had this happen to me. But I do try to be honest with all my opinions and if I don’t like something, I can’t help having not liked it. My readers are following and reading to see what I believe to be what is and what isn’t, so I will tell it to them, and if they disagree I don’t think they should pester the blogger, but maybe kindly state their reasons and go and find other reviews that might be better suited to what they want to see. But you are correct – an opinion is an opinion and there is no right or wrong.
[…] Jessi from Novel Thoughts says there is no right or wrong when it comes to reviewing books […]
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