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Why are Negative Reviews Fun?

Sorry I haven’t posted in a month. This semester is easily the hardest and most chaotic yet, giving me very little time to myself. I finally have a minute to sit down and breathe, so I thought I’d discuss something I’ve been mulling over a bit lately.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the appeal of reviews of bad books, particularly those that go into extensive detail that causes the reviewer to show strong emotions while discussing the work and its topic(s).

Source: Giphy

I’ve been watching a lot of the Dom’s Fifty Shades videos lately and I’ve realized that I tend to really enjoy seeing someone put a bad book or movie in its place by showing that what is written is either bad, not okay, promoting dangerous and/or illegal behavior, or just plain not thought through and poorly written.

Another YouTuber I subscribe to (Krimsonrogue) has recently started doing long book reviews that go into a story and discuss what about it works/doesn’t work. I’ve tended to notice that these reviews are all of bad books – he hasn’t given any positive ones yet.

And I’m not the only one who enjoys these rants. A lot of people seem to really enjoy watching a bad book or movie get broken down and critiqued with both logic and a little snark. My question is, why is that so?

I know that, for me, this extends beyond YouTube videos and I enjoy reading reviews of bad books as well. I’ve found that, the more sass a writer has, the more likely I am to find their reviews fun and worth sharing.

This is interesting to me as a book reviewer because of what I’ve experienced in my work and how I feel about writing negative pieces.

I actually hate writing most negative reviews because I know how long it takes to even think of a story, let alone write one, and the review can come off as me being unappreciative of the effort that was put into the story I’m reviewing.

No matter if the review is positive or negative, I really strive to make it come across that I am approaching the work with some level of professionalism. It’s easy for me to point out the flaws a story has, but it can be intimidating to do so, especially when you know (as is the case with most of my book reviews now) the author of the book will be reading your review and considering how their work made you feel.

I don’t know. For me, I enjoy seeing a little sass or humor in a review. It’s just fun to see.

There is a certain responsibility an author takes on when they sit down to write a story, even if they don’t fully realize it. If a book is going to be published (and, therefore, shown to the world) there are certain subjects that should be approached with professionalism and an understanding that a heavy subject matter is being dealt with and, if an author lacks the skill required to discuss it tastefully, the whole thing can come off as irresponsible, lazy, or mean-spirited.

Now, don’t misunderstand me – I know that these scenes are often not intentionally written to be tasteless or triggering, but that exact point is the reason editing is so important, so that those issues can be caught and fixed, or discarded if there’s no way to fix them.

This is ultimately, I think, why these bad book reviews and rants are as entertaining as they are. Because, given how hard it can be to even get a book published, it’s shocking enough when a story that is written poorly or mishandles its subject matter (usually both occurring at the same time seems to generate the most hate), and it’s just fun to make fun of as a result.

Now, also, the reviewer is expected to maintain a certain degree of insight when doing the review. The Dom (now Dominic Noble) broke down what exactly it is about the Fifty Shades trilogy that is so dangerous and harmful, clearly showing concern and admitting that he was most worried about a young, inexperienced person being influenced by it.

So, maybe all that’s why it’s so entertaining for me to watch these videos and read the recaps. It’s just nice to see that there are people who aren’t afraid to tastefully critique something, and maybe even throw in a little sarcasm while doing it. It can offer a different and unique experience with what is being reviewed, one that the reader/viewer will remember for a long time.

Links: Dominic Noble’s YouTube channel

Krimsonrogue’s YouTube channel

By Amber Rizzi

I am a literature geek working toward my Bachelor's in English with a concentration in writing. I love to read, and I'm always itching to write, especially creatively. I started "The Writer's Library" about three years ago, previously working with a Blogger platform before moving over to Wordpress. While I mainly post reviews of books, occasionally I will go ahead and review works in other media forms as well, such as music and certain television shows. No matter what I'm doing on here, I love to share with anyone who is willing to listen, and I'm excited to finally be on Wordpress!