I know this sounds weird but hear me out.
You know in movies and television where there’s always that scenario where a character is super mad at someone for something, and another character is like, “you know what would help? Writing down all your negative thoughts in a letter and then burning it.” But then the letter inexplicably gets sent to the person (especially if it’s an email!) and chaos ensues. That’s what writing a bad review is to me. Well, probably without the ensuing chaos…most of the time.
But I swear, there is truly something cathartic about writing a 2 star review about a book that you simply did not enjoy.
I don’t mean that writing a bad review is the time and place for you to personally attack the author and use every expletive under the sun to utterly trash their life’s work. No, what I mean is that a bad review is more or less an incredibly creative way to get your feelings and frustrations out. There are only so many ways to say that you liked a book and eventually you find yourself feeling like a broken record, repeating the same kind of praise for every 4 star review you write. But man, with a 2 star review and a list of grievances a mile long, the THINGS you can say!
I have this friend, whom I love quite dearly, and she is probably the most loudly opinionated person I’ve ever met in my life, even more than myself. And when she dislikes a book, she really dislikes it and isn’t afraid to tell you exactly why she dislikes it. But the thing with her “bad” reviews is that they never feel like attacks or “drags” of the author and read more like comedy, and that’s what has in turn inspired the style of bad reviews I write these days. It’s not so much about ripping a book to shreds but being able to, I suppose, find humour in the tragedy of not liking a book.
Writing book reviews are always a fun thing to do, but you can always tell who has more fun by the way they write their bad reviews. There’s so much more freedom in being able to say what’s on your mind and let it all out rather than looking up synonyms for “I liked it.” So while I definitely enjoy writing reviews for books I enjoyed, I really love writing reviews for books that I didn’t; it’s like free therapy.
And hey, if it helps, I always try to find at least one nice thing to say about a book that disappoints me so I don’t come off as completely heartless.