My Dilemma: To Review or Not Review

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Yesterday I posted a poll on my Facebook page @dbmoonespage, which is a new page and not getting the traffic I hope to gain with time and perseverance. I wanted to hear from book reviewers and authors about writing book reviews for poorly written books. My conundrum was whether to go forward with the book review or to contact the publisher and first-time author and give them my reasons for not reviewing the book,

The specifics of my dilemma follow:

A first-time author asked me via Twitter if I would read and review her book. After skimming the preview she included with her request, I agreed and requested her book via NetGalley. I received the book and began reading, but I could not get past the first page of the book’s prologue without becoming irritated.

The book is adult fiction about women from the Italian/Sicilian mafia, but the novel reads as if it were written by a child. The author writes using incomplete sentences. She writes in both the past and present tense, which confuses the time relationships she is conveying. She is not clear on who is talking during conversations between her characters, and she uses too many hatcheted clichés and slang. Additionally, she admitted to omitting characters and “spoilers” in the review copy of the book.

I did not know how I could write a proper book review with so many errors, as well as the missing characters and “spoilers.” I emailed the publisher and shared my feelings with him. I pointed out that I felt as if the book had not been through its first editing process. The publisher responded, thanking me for my email.

The novel was giving me a headache and leaving me with a dilemma. I looked for other reviews of the book and found one in which the reviewer gave the novel three stars and said of the book, “A bit far-fetched…” As I had told both the publisher and the author, my review was not going to help the first-time author. I pushed through four chapters, hoping the story would begin to resemble a publishable novel, but this did not happen. I did believe had the book been appropriately edited, it would be a good indie novel.

My dilemma going forward is, do I force myself through the rest of the book and write a review that is a one-star review, or do I decline to write the review? The writer in me wants to see authors succeed in their writing endeavors. I’ve received two replies to my poll, and both recommended that I decline to write the book review. What are your thoughts? All advice is appreciated as the Tylenol is not helping, nor is the sangria.

10 thoughts on “My Dilemma: To Review or Not Review

  1. I am currently offering book reviews on my blog and I had a similar dilemma. This is what I did, I alerted finished reading the rest of the book (the best I could), wrote my review and then emailed the author letting them know exactly what my review would contain (1 star and some harsh comments). I left the choice up to them whether or not they wanted the review posted.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi D.B., I would decline to review the book. Your reason that a review from you would not help the author seems legitimate to me. It’s up to you whether you give the author an explanation of not. She will probably get upset either way. Many times, people who have poor writing skills need to work on writing in general before they publish a book. As a retired English teacher, I know how frustrated you are about having to review a book with so many mistakes in it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your input, Kay. I’ve been in touch with the author and her publisher. I don’t believe there are any ill feelings as I’ve made it clear I want to see them both succeed.


  3. I’ve been in a similar position and there’s no “non-awkward” way to handle it. I’ve read from some reviewers that they’ll review but not share publicly unless it’s four stars or higher or with permission from the author. Maybe that’s the way to go? Some tough love is probably needed, and sadly, it’s not always appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Carrie. I contacted the author via Twitter and told her if she provides me with an edited/ complete version of her book I will go forward reading her book and writing a review.

    I feel bad as I’ve never come across a situation like this one but I’m not going to lie and make things up to satisfy someone that asked me to write a review. My reviews are a reflection of who I am as a book reviewer and writer.

    I agree with you re: FB vs Twitter. 🙂



      • I sent her another Twitter msg this morning and provided her with some useful pages on writing with the varying tenses. I also provided her with novels, both old and new, where the writer used first person tense. I want her to succeed. Her publisher emailed me and told me they made a few “ammendments” to the book, if I wanted to download and review. I told the author the book was no longer on my shelve but if she or her publisher wanted to email me the complete (no hold outs), edited version that I would take a look at it and let her know. I don’t feel as if there’s been enough time to make that big of a difference. We’ll see what she offers going forward.

        You have a great weekend as well, Carrie. And please excuse my errors as I’m responding with my smart…I mean ‘dumb’ phone. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was one of the ones who voted on Facebook. You’re in a difficult situation, and either way you go would be fair. After all, you were requested to review it. But since it’s a first book, and you feel it only rates one star, then maybe it’s best to just pass on it. As an author myself, I know I’d be devastated if the first review for my new book was a one-star rating. The other option is to not rate it and just say you weren’t able to finish the book because it wasn’t for you, but that it might be of interest to others.

    As for Facebook pages, getting traffic to them is exceedingly difficult, so don’t let it frustrate you. Half the time, no one sees our posts. I don’t even worry about it anymore. I post something there maybe once or twice a week. If people see it, fine. If not, fine. I’ve never enjoyed that site, and I don’t spend much time on it. I mostly keep my page to run promo ads when I need one. Twitter makes much more sense to me. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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