Critique Clinic: DNF – To Review or Not to Review?

I read 50% of a book and hate it so much I can’t bear to finish. Is it unreasonable to review it?

Critique ClinicNaomi says: In a word…YES! If one doesn’t complete a book, a credible review of the entire work can’t be given. A review, which includes a rating, is an assessment of a completed work, which would be inappropriate. Now, that doesn’t mean that one can’t identify reasons for not finishing it and/or reasons why it was disliked up to the point where reading stopped. Furthermore, be very clear in the post where reading stopped. Also, don’t rate the book. I have seen situations where a person has read 20 pages of a 300 page book and given it one star. Not only is this unfair to the author, it is unfair to the reader. I have had many a book that it took me a bit to get into it; however, the book took off after a certain amount of time. Had I given it a one star review; I would have been incorrect in my review and therefore failed the author who had written the book and the audience reading it.

Naomi Blackburn - DNF reviews quote

(via Pinstamatic)

Since nothing is easy, it is important to take where the opinion of what you read is to be placed. For example:

  1. Goodreads allows members to post opinions regarding books without rating the book
  2. Your blog obviously allows for this.
  3. Amazon requires a rating to accompany a review so obviously this would not be an appropriate place to put your opinions regarding an uncompleted work.

Let me give a personal experience. I just had the opportunity to review Carsten Stroud’s book, The Homecoming. As I delved into this book, I found I really didn’t like it. I felt that I was missing some serious points in the book, but I really couldn’t put a finger on it. I went to Goodreads and looked at the page for the book. The book had several 5 star reviews. I couldn’t see it, but as I read the 5 star reviews, it became very apparent that this book was a continuation of a first book in the series which I had not read. It would not have been fair to this author or to my readers to give this book the 2 stars which was my initial impression. Instead, I didn’t rate the book and listed my reasons for why I felt like an outsider looking in. I did include information as to the 5 star reviews reading the first book, reread the second book and then re-review.

I felt that this was the fairest thing I could do for all involved.

As I tell authors to look at the business side of their books, it is imperative that those who wish to review books take the job just as serious. Readers are watching!

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