There are any number of reason why you might decide a book is a meh read. One could be bad story telling on the part of the author, where a situation doesn’t ring true, or the characters do things that, quite frankly, strain all credibility, to say the least. This happens a lot for me, especially in fantasy, where the author fails to give enough background, depth, or detail for either unfolding events, situations, or how characters behave.
Another reason could be because you didn’t identify with the MC or, in fact, any of the characters. They might lack any real depth, or character growth throughout the story. And let’s face it, whatever the story or situations, the characters are there to do the bulk of the work, and a lacklustre character can really bring a read to a grinding halt. This happened to me recently, with a particular read I won’t mention by name. The character was so insincere and vapid, I found them utterly unbelievable.
Also stilted, awkward and repetitive dialogue can make your eyes glaze over. Mention why, what was it about the dialogue that irked you.
Then there are the mechanics, the book is full of silly grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, or poorly edited so that the story just doesn’t flow. Let alone, make sense.
When there are a number of identifiable and definitive areas you can point to, and highlight, I think it’s fair—as a book reviewer—to feel no guilt, whatsoever, in writing up a review pointing out what, for you, were these problematic areas were. Because, in truth, shouldn’t that also be a part of what we do, as reviewers?
And don’t forget, if you are sharing examples in a review of what worked and didn’t work, for you, then you are not doing a disservice to the book, or the author. You’re helping your blog readers come to their own, informed decision, as to whether a book may or may not, be their next read, and why.
That said, however, it’s quite another thing to write a purely negative review for the sake of ‘dissing’ an author, or book, based on nothing more than a review that says, ‘I didn’t like this,’ without qualifying the reasons why.
If we cannot be honest in how we review a book, stating the good as well as the bad, are we not, in effect, short changing our readers?
What are your thoughts?