Hello friends and booknerds! I have a question for you. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and have even discussed with some other book reviewers and authors. All of whom have different—and equally as valid—opinions on the matter. But I want to ask you about giving a review / rating for a book you didn’t finish, or DNF as so many on Goodreads refer to it as.
How do you feel about giving a star rating for a book you couldn’t finish? Does it depend on the reason why you couldn’t finish it? For example, will you give a star rating for a DNF book if it was just so bad—0 editing, plot holes a cargo freighter could drive through, racist / sexist beyond belief, that sort of thing—that you feel compelled to essentially warn people away from it? Or do you prefer to write a text review stating you DNF for whatever reason, but leave off the star rating? It’s important to note, that only sites like Goodreads let you do this. Places like Amazon require both a star and text review when rating any item. Or, if you can’t finish the book because it just wasn’t your thing, or emotionally you aren’t in the mood for a given book, do you quietly put it down and say nothing?
This may seem like a hot button topic, but only because people have some pretty strong opinions on the matter. I want to better understand where people are coming from, passionate readers and “professional” book reviewers alike! As an author, I have mixed feelings on this. Generally, I’m fine with a text review of a DNF book—but not a star rating—if there was a good reason someone didn’t like it. I’m not here for author or book bashing as it’s helpful to exactly no one. But usually I find telling the world you DNF a book to be rather pointless? Unless you're rating and reviewing something so terrible it needs that kind of warning to readers—and even then—I don’t see the need to express that a certain book was something you couldn’t force yourself to read.
I struggle with DNF books because I don’t like it. I feel compelled to finish all books I read, even bad ones. I’ve been told I maybe shouldn’t do this, as there are so many amazing books I’m not reading while I force myself to finish something I regrettably started. But that means I feel justified when I don’t rate a book positively, because I read it and therefore am qualified to give an opinion. That point is also debatable by many who think authors shouldn’t review or rate books out of professional courtesy. I don’t know about all that. I get book review requests all the time and I do spend my own hard earned money on books, so why can’t I review those? I am a reader as much as I am an author.
If you’d like, we can discuss that as well. Because, again, I know people have opinions.
But basically, I’m just curious. Curious as to when you feel compelled to rate and review a book. Is it only if you loved it because you find the bad books not worth your time to rate or review? After all, just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean the book isn’t great, it just wasn’t your thing. Which is fine! Or, regardless of if you DNF, hated the book but finished it, or loved every moment of it, will you rate and review it? Or will you not rate and review a single thing because you’re also an author?
As someone who wears both hats, I will say I only rate books I finish, and I will always give my honest opinion about the book. I don’t think rating a book you DNF is fair because what if something amazing happens on the next page but you never found out? If I don’t like something, I’ll outline why so others can understand my rating and decide for themselves if my issues will be a problem for them.
But I do understand how, as an author, my opinions on books may be interpreted as bashing or unprofessional for the indie author community, even if I’m asked to review the book, but whatever. I get that concern, I just don’t agree with it. Reviews are so important that as long as someone is civil and is constructive with their criticism, I don’t see a problem in a fellow author reviewing a book. But I can respect when an author decides to not rate a book if they would otherwise give it a bad rating. I know such authors as Robin Hobb do that. She’ll review books occasionally, but only if the review is 3 stars or above because anything less, at least to her, means the book wasn’t her cup of tea and is, therefore, not something she feels necessary reviewing.
But tell me what YOU think, dear friend! Do you have an opinion? What’s your process? Sharing is caring! I’d love to have a dialogue with you on this topic that’s near and dear to my heart.