The Starving Bibliophile

Books before food (and any sort of comfortable life).

5 Not-B.S. Reasons Reviewers Give for Not Liking a Book


Reviewers tend to get a bad reputation because of the actions of a select few. Not every reviewer is a completely uncaring asswipe, though, and I think it’s important that authors as well as those who just read reviews understand that. As a reviewer you sometimes have to be a bit harsher than you might like, and that can lead to negative comments from the people who read your reviews. It’s important for our readers to understand that most of us don’t write reviews just so we can have the satisfaction of being able to bash an author’s hard work. I am aware that there are some reviewers who seem to take some sort of weird pleasure in this, and it makes me sad for those who write their reviews to express an opinion. It really makes it hard on us. So to help out a bit, here are 5 not-b.s. reasons reviewers give for not liking a book, and the reasoning behind the reason. Hopefully it’ll explain a little that reviewers aren’t out to attack your favorite book, or worse, the authors themselves.

5. “I didn’t like/relate to any of the characters.”

Sometimes characters have personalities that clash with our own. Other times the characters are too perfect (or in some cases, too flawed). And sometimes it’s simply because they don’t live up to our expectations. (Either that or they are horrible copycat stereotypes.) For whatever reason, not everyone likes your favorite character. Reasoning for the Reason:

  • The MC (main character) has a thousand and one problems and instead of fixing any of them they decide to cry and whine about how awful their life is.
  • The MC’s life is absolutely perfect. And yet they still whine. And whine. And whine. And then there’s some complaining mixed in there. Did I say they like to whine yet?
  • The MC is portrayed as tough and edgy but a) never lifted a finger to help themselves, b) still immediately fell for the attractive supporting character(s), or c) always manages to get captured/hurt/saved in any and every way possible.

4. “I didn’t like the author’s writing style.”

There are a select few writers that like to be different from the norm. (Ellen Hopkins, I’m looking at you.) But even though the book may have a really good story, that doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. Reasoning for the Reason:

  • The story was all in poem format or it alternated from the standard book format to something different such as poem format or whole chapters with only a sentence or two.
  • The author didn’t write the book in the standard 1st or 3rd person point of view which made it confusing. PLEASE STOP TRYING TO WRITE IN 2ND PERSON.

3. “The story didn’t make sense.”

This is a tough one because whether someone actually understands a book is completely dependent on the reader. Some people don’t even care (or notice) if a book is confusing because they just loved the story so much. That’s really great—and it happens to everyone—but if a book has flaws, there are others who will see them and it’ll impact their reading experience. Reasoning for the Reason:

  • There was a lack of world-building. This mainly applies to sci-fi, dystopian, and fantasy genres. For some people, the setting and how it’s presented can either make or break a book.
  • The huge info-dumps made it hard to concentrate on the actual story/too much information that didn’t connect with each other.
  • The use of made-up terminology by the author was over-bearing, and the reader had to repeatedly use the term-dictionary in the back of their book to understand anything.

2. “I thought it was boring.”

Admit it—you’ve picked up a book or two (or ten) in your life that you just didn’t like simply because of the fact that it was boring. And yet reviewers get so much shit for giving this reason. Just like TV shows or movies, when it comes to books people are entertained by different things. Some people prefer the intensity of Hannibal while others want something girly like Say Yes to the Dress. Someone’s interesting is another person’s boring, and that’s okay. Reasoning for the Reason:

  • Nothing ever really happened. This is the sole reason why reviewers say a book is boring. Whether it takes the plot too long to develop, too long for the characters to finish their journey, or simply the fact that the book wasn’t meant to have a lot of action can make a reviewer dub a book as “boring.”

1. “This book just wasn’t for me.”

It’s true, and it’s not bullshit. Sometimes the story can be good, the characters well-developed, and the plot fast-paced, but that still doesn’t mean that a reviewer is guaranteed to like that book. It may be genre, it may be personal preference, or it may be the fact that that reviewer just previously finished one of the best books of their life and this one just couldn’t compare. There’s not really a “reasoning for the reason” on this one—it’s just straight up opinion, which is perfectly okay.

Everyone has an opinion, and it’s important to realize that even though someone else’s opinion is different from yours, it doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. Reviewers get a lot of hate for the opinions we share, and I don’t think that will stop any time soon. Readers are very passionate about the things they read, and they defend the things that they love to the end of the earth and back. But what some don’t realize is that we’re readers, too. We read books and fall in love with characters and stories and authors just like everyone else. The difference is that we choose to express our opinion without bias, no matter how much we love something. Even in our very favorite books we find flaws—and like most readers it doesn’t change the fact that we love them. We find the flaws, however great or small, and we tell others about them because that’s what do. We’re not monsters trying to put your favorite author out of business or pull your favorite book from the shelf.

Above all things, we’re just readers looking for a good book.


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