How to Review a Book You Hated

Ramona Mead
4 min readAug 16, 2020
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

On my book blog, I write a lot about the why’s and how to’s of writing book reviews. There’s a lot to consider if you want to write reviews that are useful to readers and authors. But there’s one aspect of reviews I haven’t covered yet.

This is a question I get quite often when I tell people I’m a book blogger, “How do you review books you don’t like?” Many people assume I don’t review those books, which isn’t true.

Low star reviews are just as important as five star ones. When written with care, they provide important information to readers, authors, and publishers.

So how should you address a book you didn’t like?

The answer is definitely not to avoid writing the review! I’ve seen other bloggers say they reach out to authors of self-published books before posting a negative review, to give the author the choice of whether or not they want the review posted. I don’t subscribe to this method. Once the book is given to me in exchange for my honest review, that’s what they’re going to get. Being choosey about which reviews are published feels manipulative.

When I get a book directly from an author who has worked hard to publish and market their own book, it has a different vibe from one that’s sent en masse from a publisher. Sure that makes me more sensitive to the fact that there’s a human being with emotions who’s going to look at my review. I don’t let that stop me from being honest, and it shouldn’t stop you either.

Not all readers receive free books.

As reviewers, we have a responsibility to be honest so they can use our feedback to determine whether or not to spend valuable time and money on a particular read.

Photo by Ramona Mead

How to Review a Book You Hated

  1. Be objective. Tell us what you saw on the page. Saying the book is bad and you hated it is subjective, that varies from person to person. Objective is what’s observable. Poor grammar? A lot of cursing? Graphic sex or violence? That’s what’s on the page. Tell us what you experienced.
Ramona Mead

Avid reader, writer of true stories, book hoarder, eternal optimist