As authors we're schooled in how to handle negative reviews: don't react badly, don't respond to the reviewer who gave you a bad review no matter what, and if you're still super bummed about it - go on Amazon and read some of the negative reviews on some of the most popular books out there / our favorites because hey, we all get bad reviews occasionally. Not everyone can like the same books.
But what about book reviewer etiquette? What crosses the line? How far is too far? When do you go from explaining why you disliked a book in a tactful way to all-out book bashing?
I've always thought there was a distinct difference between someone who reads a book and complains about the book for whatever reason in cruel, bashing ways and real book bloggers and reviewers, who may not like the book but don't try to be outwardly rude about it. Or maybe that's just the way I handle my book reviews. I may not like every book that I read, but I usually can still glean something out of the book that I liked - even if it is that I was thankful that the book ended. But if I outright hate a book? I probably don't even finish it, let alone write a nasty review about it.
But the events of the past few days or so and the things I've heard through the grapevine from my blogger friends have me shocked and completely appalled at some small minded people's actions.
With the demand for more diverse books to be written and the seemingly overly sensitive opinions of people nowadays books are getting nitpicked more than ever. Two books in a crapstorm of controversy over the past few months have been The Continent by Keira Drake and Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, which people have cited as been stereotyping and racist. Now, I haven't read either book and I don't plan to because they're not the genre of books I find appealing (and I never even finished Insurgent by Veronica Roth), so I can't honestly give my opinion on the books one way or another. But I do think that people have to remember that these books are a work of fiction. They are not intentionally written to offend people of color, they're just books! Meant to be read for enjoyment. Don't want to read that sort of thing? Then don't!
Book Bashing and Book Burning
That being said I am completely appalled after hearing that a book blogger / booktuber (whatever that is) lit fire to a copy of Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth then used the excuse that she had been intoxicated and was not in control of her actions, therefore should not be blamed or held responsible.
Are you kidding me?!?! I'm not a drinker, have never been drunk at all in my 24 years of life, but I'm scrambling to figure out how someone, drunk or sober, could possibly think it was okay to burn a book just because they didn't like it. I didn't realize we were living in Nazi Germany.
This goes back to my point above about etiquette. If you don't like a book, don't bash it! Just explain that it wasn't your taste of book and move on. Bashing a book to that degree - or dear god, BURNING a book - is uncalled for. Maybe it's the fact that I'm an author myself and know how much thought and hard work goes into writing a book followed by the guts it takes to put that project you've worked so hard on out for public consumption and criticism but I don't believe profanity, personal attacks on the author, excessively harsh comments, or physical destruction of any kind towards the book belong anywhere in a book review.
I understand that it's called an "honest" review for a reason, but please, remember to have some class.