Today, I want to discuss whether people can express their negative opinions. In my very first book chat, I discuss whether fans are allowed to be critical. So this book chat really stems from that, but I will focus on people who clearly dislike – or even hate – a book (series).
Example 1: A Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass
Anyone who is active on social media, will have noticed all the drama surrounding the Empire of Storms release. Some people received an early copy and weren’t happy at all with what they read.
People who express their negative opinions, have been called ‘petty’, ‘problematic’ … and ‘should just read what makes them happy and shut up about what they hate’. Don’t they realise that some people put a lot of time and money into that series? If they don’t like it, they have the right to be disappointed and express their opinions. Just because you like it, doesn’t mean everyone else will. That is literally impossible.
I understand why people don’t like seeing negative reviews on their favourite books and series. I have been there. I have de-friended people on Goodreads because they hated my favourite books and I really disagreed with them. But, I still allow them to express their opinion. I would never write a comment on their review saying they are wrong, they don’t appreciate good writing… Whenever people say that to me, I will probably only dislike the book more. I don’t think anyone has ever read those comments and thought: “Oh, you know what, they are right. I love the book now”. I actually consider writing comments like that petty, not disliking a book and being vocal about it.
There are actually readers who have cancelled their pre-orders because of the spoilers they have read. I think it is completely okay to dislike something you have not read yourself. Spoilers can give you an idea of whether or not you will like it. Readers shouldn’t ‘suffer’ reading through something they know they won’t like, just to please others.
And that is exactly the reason why I won’t continue Sarah J. Maas’ series. I have only read the first books in both series and The Assassin’s Blade. But, based on what I have heard, I will not like how it continues. I don’t like the idea of an author completely destroying one character in order for readers to fall in love with another. I think that’s a cheap thing to do. To be clear, I based my opinion on what fans have said as well, not only haters.
The book community should not be all moonlight and roses. I think it can learn a lot from those negative opinions. Even if you love Sarah J. Maas’ work, you have to admit that they are filled with straight white people. So it’s a very good thing people are vocal about this. While I don’t like shipping drama, people should be honest about their pairings and admit it is problematic or even abusive if that’s the case. Actually, whenever people talk about her series, they only talk about the romance. And because I am tired of reading about straight couples, I’m not planning on continuing her series.
So yes, I think it’s okay to dislike something you have not actually read yourself. However, don’t rate before you read! Don’t give a book one star because you know you’ll hate it. But also, don’t rate a book five stars because you know you’ll love it! Even if I have read 75% of a book, I don’t rate it when I DNF it.
I actually wrote a ‘review‘ on A Court of Mist and Fury, explaining why I wouldn’t read it. And I received lots of hateful reactions. So, yes, people who love something, can be very nasty as well. Let’s not pretend as if it’s a one way street.
It is clear that I am advocate of expressing your opinions, both positive and negative. However, I do not think it is okay to attack others, to disagree with others on their own post/social media, to threaten the author… And I can’t believe that even has to be said.
example 2: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was the very first book I gave a one star rating. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, but that script completely butchered all of the characters and the plot was all over the place. It was actually hilariously awful: I couldn’t take it seriously, even though the play was obviously trying to be.
I won’t go into detail, but you can read why I hated it here. In my first book chat, I came to the conclusion that people can critique their favourite books and still be as much as a fan as others. I still consider myself a Harry Potter fan, even though I hated Cursed Child. As usual when someone expresses a negative opinion, I received hateful messages. Saying I am not a true fan because I didn’t rate something written by J.K. Rowling five stars (newsflash: it wasn’t even written by her), I shouldn’t judge the script without watching the play… Reactions like these are the reason why people are afraid to be honest. Right now, I don’t really care anymore when people say I am not a ‘real’ fan, because I know that’s not true. But a couple of months ago, it would have hurt my feelings.
Example 3: shadybooktweets
Shadybooktweets is a Twitter account where people can anonymously share their opinions on books. I know quite a few people who have blocked that page because they think people should stop wasting their energy on negativity. I follow @shadybooktweets and while I am not going to pretend all confessions are acceptable, a lot mention diversity (POC, LGBT…) and I obviously support that, because books still lack this.
However, as usual, there is some shipping drama, back and forth arguments… And that’s definitely its downside. But I cannot help supporting a platform that also allows people to be honest that books, even their favourites, lack diversity. And maybe the people who blocked the Twitter page don’t want to admit that.
Just to be clear: I do not agree with every confession posted there. Some are quite nasty (e.g. attacking certain booktubers) and I do not condone that. But I like the idea of a place where people can express their (negative) opinions. And since people are afraid of expressing them openly – out of fear of being attack – they have to turn to that account. For the record: I have never posted a confession there and I don’t plan to. I just like to read them, even though I strongly disagree with some.
So, should we keep our negative opinions to ourselves?
No, we shouldn’t! If people are allowed to constantly praise books, people should be allowed to dislike it as well. Negativity does not necessarily have to be a bad thing.
Nevertheless, people should still be civil (though I could say the same to people who love something) and not attack others or the author.
What is your opinion on this? I am curious to read your thoughts because there are so many different opinions when it comes to this topic. Please know that this is my own opinion and I am not attacking anyone.