The Secrets of Writing a Negative and Unpopular Review


Hello everyone! ♥

A couple months ago I wrote a post about the joy and struggle of reviewing books in general. Today I’m back with another review-related post, only this time I’m going to focus on negative reviews.

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s bad enough to have to write a negative review. Let alone having to write a negative review among the sea of positive ones. I want to enjoy the books as much as everybody does and believe it or not, I don’t want to be that one person who bursts the bubble. Unfortunately, we feel what we feel and some things just had to be said 😛 I had a lot of conversations with fellow bookworms regarding negative reviews and most of us are afraid of it because the internet is a scary place where everyone gets offended all the time.

So the question is…

What is the best way to write a negative and unpopular review?

To tell you the truth, I’m probably not the best person to give you advice about it because most of the times, I’m still worried about my own negative reviews. But after reading and writing reviews for over 5 years, I learned a lot about reviewing. As always, everything I’m going to say in this post is based on my own experience 🙂

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Before we answer the question, let’s address the fear itself. A lot of people are so afraid of putting their opinions out there because they’re afraid of offending someone. Well… we shouldn’t be. Here’s why.

  1. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You and I could have different opinion about an exact same book and that’s okay. No one should tell the other person how to think. It’s just impossible.
  2. We can’t please everyone. Let’s face it, people (especially on the internet) will ALWAYS get offended all the time. No matter what you say, no matter how you say it, you’ll probably always offend someone. That’s just the way it is. So why bother wasting your time worrying over something inevitable? 😛
  3. As long as you voice your opinions politely, everything should be fine. 

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A lot of reviewers are comfortable enough to talk about about a book bluntly, but I’m not one of them. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, it just isn’t me.

When it comes to negative and different opinions, I’m not that confident. Sometimes I sugarcoat my opinions just to soften the blow :’) I also don’t like trash talking a book or an author or really anything. Books take time and commitment to write, so trash talking them might not be the best option for me. I mean, authors pour everything they have into their writing, it’s their brain-child, so we should always appreciate it. The case is probably different with problematic books that contain things like racism and such, but I personally haven’t met books that anger me like that, most books just annoy me.

So, this will focus on negative reviews of books you simply don’t like 😉

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1) Be polite and respectful. I always try to write my critics as politely as possible, though I admit sometimes it’s hard because some books just annoy me to no end and all I wanna do is rant >_< Buuuut if you do it politely, you probably won’t offend and/or hurt the author and other people who like the book that much. If you’re being reasonable, chances are people will too. 

2) Be sassy. Or funny. Or even better, both. I’m sure you all have read a lot of sassy negative reviews on the blog and goodreads and you know what, I prefer those kinds of reviews to the hateful ones. Reading something full of hate and anger is exhausting. Also, the chance of offending anyone when you’re being sassy is considerable lower. I mean, have you read sassy reviews of Fifty Shades or Twilight?! Those are super funny! And even I enjoy sassy negative reviews of books I love 😛 Also sometimes I specifically seek out negative reviews by my favorite reviewers just to have a good laugh… I know it’s not nice to laugh over someone’s masterpiece, but still… :’)

Unless of course, if the book is so problematic and sends a super wrong message, people have the right to call it out and be angry. But don’t overdo it because no one likes people who are always angry.

3) Balance the negativity with something positive. Let’s take a second to be objective and forget your extreme dislike for the book. There’s usually always something at least remotely positive you can comment on. It could be the idea, the side characters, the character’s hobby, the chapter title? If you can’t find any then the book is probably just that bad.

4) If you’re not sure of your opinion because everyone else seems to love the books (like me), looking for other negative and unpopular reviews might help. At least that’s what I usually do after I’m done writing my own review LOL it helps to know that you’re not alone. And guess what… no matter how peculiar your opinion is, there’s always at least one person who shares it. You can’t be the only person in the world (or at least in the bookish community) who thinks that way 😛

5) Rant away, edit later. Sometimes, a book is just downright bad and annoying and I just need to vent. So I do. I write everything I hate about it without any care and I tell you, it is so liberating 😛 and then I usually go back later to edit and make sure I don’t write anything too offensive that will possibly cause a backlash.

6) Last but definitely not the least, JUST OWN IT. Doesn’t matter if you’re being super honest or sugarcoating it, just own it. Like I said before, you are entitled to have opinion and whatever it is, there’s always someone who’ll be offended, so just own your opinion like a queen 😛 (or king!!!)

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Some of my own negative & somewhat unpopular reviews :

The Bone SeasonUnicorn TracksVassa in the Night (not that unpopular actually)


LET’S TALK! How often do you write negative and unpopular reviews and what do you think is the best way to do it? Are you (like me) sometimes afraid of offending people and the possible backlash from the bookish community? And for you brave people who are comfortable enough to write rant reviews, what are your secrets??!! Spill them because I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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68 thoughts on “The Secrets of Writing a Negative and Unpopular Review

  1. Sassy rant reviews are my favorite!! Even if they’re trashing a book that I loved, they’re still so much fun to read haha. You make some very excellent points in your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually really enjoy both reading and writing negative reviews, and I agree so much with everything you said! I don’t generally feel bad when I don’t like a book, unless it’s a book someone recommended to me and they REALLY REALLY loved it (and wanted me to so bad!). In those cases I don’t feel guilty, exactly, just that I wish I had enjoyed it the way they had. 😛

    But 100% yes – we can’t please everyone, and we’re all entitled to our own opinion. Great post, Puput! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. With negative reviews, I ALWAYS read other negative reviews. It helps validate my feelings, and it also helps me frame what I’m thinking. I know a lot of the time, I understand why I didn’t like it, but I can’t put it into words and those reviews help A LOT.
    I always try to look for positives as well..but sometimes, some books just dont have any positives for me, and it does end up a little ranty! But a little edit always does the trick 🙂
    Great post, Puput! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • EXACTLY! I have to know whether it’s me or the book or something hahaha and yes I agree with you, sometimes I know I don’t like a certain thing but can’t pin point what exactly 😀 that happens a lot to me too, sometimes I end up praising the cover though hahaha thank you Gerri! ❤


  4. I definitely do #4! It’s always good to know I’m not the only person who’s hated a book, and knowing the reasons other people disliked it makes me feel better. My last review was extremely negative as the book was extremely problematic and bad, and I felt sad that I couldn’t think of any positives, because not everything about it sucked, but in the end I had to leave it as is – a negative review of a terrible book. And normally I feel a bit anxious about posting negative reviews, but not for that one! I felt I had to do my duty and warn people away from the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree! I’m always afraid I’m not being reasonable so reading other negative reviews could definitely boost my confidence 😛 ahh sorry you didn’t enjoy it and couldn’t find anything remotely positive to say, but sometimes it’s inevitable 🙂 well it is if the book is highly problematic!


  5. This is definitely good advice!! I tend to write a lot of negative reviews so I’m kind of used to it now…😂 Although I do still get scared of the backlash of disliking a very popular book! (It’s basically murder to write a negative review on a Sarah J Maas book because the fandom gets so stabby.😱) But my rules are NEVER trash-talk the author. No matter what I think about the book’s content, I refuse to ever hate on the author. It’s not fair and it’s wrong! As a writer myself I know people will not always like my books, but that doesn’t mean they have to hate me right?! So I like to keep that distinction. *nods* And I try to keep things sassy and put in a few positives. And if I can’t find any positives than I keep the review short as possible.🙈🙊 Although that all saying I ranted majorly on a really sexist book yesterday on goodreads haha, but I don’t usually do that, so I figure a once-off is okay!

    (And omg may I just say I love how you format your blog posts?! They’re so easy and fun and lovely to read!!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha yes practice makes perfect and the more negative reviews I write, the less guilty I feel about it hahaha 😂😂 OMG YES! I wrote a slightly negative review of Empire of Storms and I was super nervous!! But turned out a lot of people saw the same flaws I did even if they ended up enjoying it more than I did 😛 that’s a good rule, Cait! I too try to never trash talk the author no matter how horrible the book is 🙈 hahaha sometimes it just had to be done though 😛

      Omggg I’m so flattered to hear that thank you so much!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love writing and reading negative reviews! Sometimes I get nervous if the book is really well loved (like when I posted my review for ACOTAR) but most times it’s so much fun and extremely therapeutic. I love making mine as funny as possible (hopefully? I think to think I’m hilarious 😅), but I always try and find something nice to say or make sure people know that it’s just my opinion and it could be totally different for them. Lovely post with amazing advice like always, Puput!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh yes, I was also nervous to post a slightly negative review of Empire of Storms, the SJM fanbase is strong and a bit scary 🙈🙈 SO THERAPEUTIC!! Like, writing down all the things I like is totally liberating and I’ld love to think I’m hilarious too hahaha 😛 yayy thank you so much Lauren, glad you enjoyed it! ❤


  7. I really like reading negative reviews – I think a lot of the time they’re way more informative than a glowing review. I just wrote a pretty negative one for my blog and writing negative reviews are so much easier to write!! You just pour all your feelings out and then edit it later. But I do feel quite bad for writing a negative review – I just make sure to put a couple positive things in there and to sound as polite as I can, I never want to hurt people’s feelings 😛 great post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh that is so true! Sometimes I found my positive reviews not-so-helpful because I just go on and on about how great it is and how much I adore it 🙈🙈 also I feel like I have more to say on a negative review! Yeahhh being polite is the only way to do it though hehe thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I enjoy writing negative reviews, it’s fun ranting about a bad book and getting those feelings out 🙂 I do tend to worry about posting negative reviews though, in case I might offend people but most of the time people have been respectful of my thoughts and opinions. I do always try to mention some positive though, as most books aren’t completely terrible

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is liberating, especially when I have so many things to say about it. But yes I found out that people mostly respect my opinions and lots of the time, they see what I see about the book as well. Exactly, there’s always something remotely positive to say about a book 😀


  9. I secretly kind of enjoy writing negative reviews. Of course I don’t enjoy reading a book I don’t like, but my reviews tend to be better/funnier. It is just easier to write about why I didn’t like something than about why I loved something. My boyfriend actually likes when I am not liking a book, because he looking forward to reading my rant. I do always try to bring it in a funny way, give arguments of why I found certain aspects bad and point out that it is My opinion and I respect and understand if people feel differently about it. And I of course also discuss the positive parts of a story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, it’s easier for me to for coherent thoughts of books I dislike than books I love, as my thoughts tend to be biased and all I want to do is gush about how much I love it 😛 hahaha that’s so nice!! I too always try to be funny, I hope people find me as hilarious as I find myself 🙈🙈🙈

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I. Adore. This. Post. I was thinking about a lot of things to comment as I was reading, and then you ended up covering all of them! Lol. I agree with you 100% on all your points and advice. But I enjoy writing and reading negative reviews because I think they are much more interesting. Just gushing about a book is kinda boring. I think a lot of book bloggers are too scared to be honest and I want to change that. I actually have wanted to post about that for a while and now your post has inspired me to get going!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OHHH thank you so much!! ❤ hahaha I'm sure there's always something to add though haha YESSS I AGREE! Negative reviews are always more informative and a lot of bloggers mention this on my comment as well. I will probably write about the positive reviews sometimes in the future 😛 yessss you should post it and don't forget to drop me the link 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. awesome post and great points, puput! i’m pretty open about the fact that i have no qualms about writing negative reviews. but i do think *how* to write them is always an interesting balance. i was raised in a household where i was taught to be incredibly open and honest, yet always kind. i think some people don’t believe that honesty and kindness can coexist, but i truly believe from experience that they can. i also try to *critique* rather than trash a book. if i disliked the book, i try to explain *why* and how that issue may be corrected.

    i also really enjoy reading negative reviews, especially if it’s of a book i loved because i think it’s really interesting to see how the things i love someone else can hate! and, who knows, they may have some good points and make me change my mind! that’s how i know a reviewer is good at what they do–if they can get me to change my mind about a book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Lila 😀 exactly, it could be tricky because everyone knows everyone could have any opinion, but actually voicing it could be a problem. Ahh it’s good that you’ve been practicing it since childhood. Me too, though sometimes I feel just a tiny bit defensive when it’s my real favorite book hahaha buuuut when people are being polite and reasonable, I too enjoy reading negative reviews. Sometimes they point out flaws that I overlook or things that I thought didn’t matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a fabulous post! My biggest hurdle when I formed Books, Vertigo and Tea was writing my first negative review! It never dawned on me that it was going to happen. I was terrified and struggled.

    I soon realized much of what you have so wonderfully pointed out! Respect, a little humor and positivist can go a long way. Find a balance. And never ever attack the author. Focus on critiquing the work 🙂 There have been times I have resorted to discussing how beautiful a cover was just because I could find little else that I appreciated in a book, but ending on a high note always works best for me.

    I am glad to see you post this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh yes the first is always the scariest 🙈 oooh yes respect+humor+positivity = the greatest combination of all, right? And it is definitey a must to not trash talk the author, I mean, even if he/she writes a problematic book, doesn’t always mean they’re also problematic. Could be an honest mistake hehe OH MY GOD YES! I do that too, even though the cover probably has NOTHING to do with the author hahaha just for the sake of having something positive to say :’) thank you, so glad you enjoyed it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Yeah write negative review put me into distress because I knew I critics the books but sometime I am afraid I critics the author instead.. So I usually put everything then edit later (I asked my close friend to read my review before hit publish to know whether my review is too offensive or not)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is such a great post! I’m the same way – I struggle with writing negative reviews. I don’t really care if it upsets readers, but I’m always nervous that somehow the author is going to find it and be hurt. I can’t imagine how much time and energy goes into a writing a book and I don’t want someone to feel like I’m completely bashing something they spent so much time writing. So when I do write reviews, I do a lot of what you said. I’m always as polite as possible and I always try to point out whatever I did actually like about it. Just doing those two things makes me feel a lot better about my negative reviews! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Kourtni! 😀 ahh yes I totaly heard you there, I feel ESPECIALLY guilty when it’s a review for books I received from the author. I want so bad to like it so I could help him/her so it’s just upsetting when it turns out I don’t 🙈🙈 me too, it does make me feel a lot better! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yup, same! With books I got from the author, I always feel terrible if my review isn’t really positive. Like you said, I really want to help them, but I can’t help if I didn’t like their book 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  15. “As long as you voice your opinions politely, everything should be fine. ” I feel like you hit the nail right on the head with that statement, Puput. Of course there are some books out there that are so problematic that it is pretty much impossible to voice your opinions politely but for a lot of books that aren’t I feel like that is the way to go. I’m a part of the unafraid to write negative reviews side of the blogosphere and everything you pointed out in your tips is exactly what I do. In September I read this terrible book that I really didn’t like but in my review I ranted and then pointed out the few positive aspects. I always made sure I never once talked bad about the author but rather gave my criticism over the book in general. It’s like you said, you can’t please everyone. I feel like that’s the secret to writing negative reviews. Knowing that you can’t please everyone. Reviewers can’t and authors can’t. I just embrace that thought.
    On a side note, isn’t it weird how negative reviews are so much easier to write than positive ones? Or is that just me? 😂😂
    Great discussion as always! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww I’m always flattered every time someone quotes me 😛 hahaha but yeah I feel like it’s the most important advice of all, I mean, nothing could make me change my opinion, but I could voice it in the best way possible, right?hehe yes balancing the pros and the cons is important for me because I think people deserve to know both sides. I mean, I don’t want people to miss out on a possibly good book just because my review is negative 🙈 I AGREE! I always have so many more things to say on a negative review whilst with positive ones I’m usually just rambling about how much I love the book 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! I completely agree with you. All of us bookworms have so many different likes and dislikes that it’s good to know the negative and positive aspects of a book. I never want to turn someone away from a book without them knowing there could be a possibility they would like it even if I didn’t.
        Yes! Half the time with positive reviews I just want to fill the page with GIFs or type I LOVED THIS BOOK READ IT. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        • It really has to be done with EVERY book and every kind of reviews, not just the negative ones because just as I don’t want to turn people away from a possibly good book, I also don’t want to rave about books blindly and I don’t know… oversell it?Hahaha I’m also scared people wouldn’t enjoy the book I’m flailing over 🙈🙈

          Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree with a lot of what you mentioned! Being sassy or funny doesn’t come naturally to me, so I try to go for polite and respectful with my negative reviews! I haven’t been in a position where I utterly hate a much-loved book, but I have had a situation where I have to criticise a review that’s been requested by the author. That’s when it gets really difficult haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knoooow! I’d like to think I’m hilarious but who knows?? 😂😂 I agree, it’s not a nice feeling, especially when it’s an author from small publisher. Like, I want to help them promote the books but probably end up doing the opposite </3


      • Yesss, and knowing that the person whose work you’re critiquing is going to read it makes it a little more difficult. Though that may be because I generally dislike confrontation haha. 😝

        Liked by 1 person

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  18. Ahh yes!! One hundred percent agree- it’s so much fun to just ranting away!! All that editing out repetitions of “gah- I hate this so much!” can come later 😉 And yes- the important thing to do is just OWN IT! I’m quite an opinionated person and my opinions about books often go into extremes- so I have less of a problem with this- but I was over on rosereads for her discussion on this she made some excellent points about how difficult it can be for us to engage in comments under people’s posts if we feel differently! Anyhoo- great post! Awesome food for thought! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know right! Especially with books that really get under my skin hahaha it’s liberating to just put the words out there 😂 I think to be able to ‘just own it’ takes practice. Like, when I first wrote my negative & unpopular review I felt guilty and anxious and all that but now I’m more like… “I feel what I feel” 😛 yeah especially when it’s someone we don’t interact often, we could never know how they would react to disagreement. Yayy thank you so much! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’ve really never had a problem writing a negative review. Most books have some good qualities, even if you didn’t like the book overall, so I think you can definitely balance out the negative criticism with some positive criticism as well. Then again, our followers are lovely and have never gotten mad when we’ve posted a less-than-stellar review, so maybe we’re just lucky!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I totally understand the struggle! If I don’t look up or pay attention at all to the author, I don’t feel bad about writing a really bad review for the book…. But I just recently read a book that was a one-star for me and I was all set to go screaming about it until I saw the author’s lovely little acknowledgement at the back of the book. Yikes. I then felt super guilty about writing a negative review, but there were so many things wrong with the book, and I wasn’t about to lie about how much I hated it. Basically, I went through what I didn’t like, and then I said the book “might be okay for someone who…” instead of just claiming that everyone and their mother will hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

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