Final Theory for today's post, but as I started writing, I started thinking: What's the friggin' point? You've probably never heard of this book, so it's not like you were on the edge of your seat wondering if it's any good or not. And so then by writing a negative review about it, I've just convinced you never to give it a second thought.
So why waste my (and your) time? I'm not sure why this just occurred to me. I certainly don't feel obligated to review every novel I read (and I don't). And I don't accept self-published books to review — partially for this reason: If I hate it, then I'm pasting a novel no one's ever heard of anyway, and so it's like adding insult to injury. Sure, if an obscure novel's great — Teddy Wayne's Kapitoil is one example — it's fun to sing its praises and therefore try to find it a wider readership. But an obscure novel being really good is a rarity, isn't it? That's why it's obscure.
Of course, the deeper issue here is just the idea of the effect of negative reviews. Personally, I hate writing them — but dutifully do so when it's a book people need to know isn't that good; and more importantly, why. To me, writing a negative review is 100 times more difficult than a positive one. It's often tough to enumerate why I disliked it without just saying some form of "I disliked it."
And it's fair to say people don't like reading negative reviews, as well. It's funny how the percentage of "Not Helpful" votes on Amazon increases in precisely indirect proportion to the number of stars you give a review. A two-star review is guaranteed to garner several not helpful votes, a one-star review even more. Even if, by any objective measure, it's a bad book, people still seem angry at you for pointing that out.
I'm interested to hear from you. Do you review crappy, obscure books? What do you see as the benefit of doing so? Do you also struggle writing negative reviews, or at some level, is it therapeutic to lambaste a crappy book?