I have been thinking about writing this post for a while for several reasons but mostly because I keep scrolling through Instagram and seeing a certain transphobic author’s books on my timeline and it made me think about all of the people/ readers still promoting them and many other “problematic” authors while I made the choice not to so. This choice doesn’t mean that I think that I’m better than anyone , this post isn’t about cancel culture because it only works for marginlized people and I’m also not saying that just because an author said something problematic that we should stop supporting them altogether, because no one is perfect or 100% “unproblematic”. I am talking about repetitive harmful behaviour that is too big to ignore, or where there are no apologies and why I cannot, in good conscience, support those authors.
A few weeks ago, I went on an ARC frenzy and requested many eARCS through various medias and reviewed quite a few. There were some good ones and there were some pretty bad ones and I found myself in quite a conundrum: how was I supposed to review bad ARCs without deterring others to pick up the book? I thought I would share my thoughts on the question with a discussion post.
I don’t really think there’s a miracle solution to the question. The thing is that I want to be honest and not trick anyone into picking up a book that I, myself didn’t enjoy. There’s also the issue that a lot of us have different tastes and different expectations when we pick up a book. The diversity is actually wonderful and my guilty pleasure is reading bad reviews of my favourite books. It’s sometimes eye-opening. Now that’s completely fine when the book is published and no one expects anything from you. But for ARCS? Boy, that’s a problem.
I read an ARC and while there were many interesting and enjoyable elements, the writing style and the way the story carried out was just…not good. At all. I knew the author would read the review and I didn’t want to be that person who criticized their work. I know how much effort people put into writing a book and I know the struggle of getting a book published; it’s tough out there. I don’t think anyone needs someone picking thire book apart and ruining chances of persuading readers to give it a try. I say this because I am very easily influenced and swayed by reviews; I have a few reviewers who I trust with my life and I almost feel exactly the same way about a book that they do. Reviews are crucial. So what to do when there’s just a book that you didn’t like?
what I do, is that I try to balance it out. When I can feel myself strongly disliking a book, I still try to find good things about it: why did I request it? What interested me? Is there a character that makes things better? I try to find something enjoyable; It makes me feel less guilty about then saying what’s wrong. I try to phrase the sentence as to emphasize that it is my opinion and that there are issues that botheredme. When there’s something truly bad about a book I still think it’s important to mention it. I don’t mean problematic elements (that’s a talk for another day), but just elements that don’t work in terms of the story or the writing style. Criticism doesn’t have to be negative as long as it’s constructive. I try to pinpoint where it went wrong whether it be the pace, the writing style or the characters. I think we owe it to each other to be honest. The fact that I try to find good elements doesn’t mean I sugarcoat it but I still remember that there’s a human behind the author and that harsh reviews are not necessarily helpful (for ARCS I mean). Now back to the ARC I didn’t like, I sent all of my criticism to the author. I know I wasn’t harsh but I wasn’t praising them either. I was so stressed to hear back from the author but they actually told me the feedback was helpful and that they will focus on a few things I pointed out for future projects. I cannot tell you how relieved I felt to read that. I felt incredibly bad when I submitted it and I like that the author was understanding; When a book is out there, it is no longer your baby and people will love it or hate it; it’s fine, that means people care enough to feel something. So in conclusion my answer is: be kindly honest about how you feel.
What did you think? What do you do when an ARC you’re reading is bad? Or you have to review a bad book? Let me know in the comments!
So Netflix just announced the cast for The Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows duology! I would be lying if I said that I was enthusiastic when I heard that Netflix had bought the rights to the Grishaverse. It’s a fact universally acknowledged that adaptations can be either amazing (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) or truly bad (Divergent). But I am officially happy to say that I changed my mind! And that reason is Mr. Ben Barnes. I think the word love doesn’t begin to cover it. He will forever be my Prince Caspian, he’s the perfect cast for Sirius Black (and the beautiful Dorian Grey). He has an amazing voice, he’s a great actor and seems like a genuinely nice person. And I was so so so excited to learn that he played the Darkling!