Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I Have Never.... Lied in a Book Review!

When I was at university, we used to play a daft combination of truth or dare and drinking game called 'I Have Never' - at university, it involved making "risque" statements like "I have never... had a threesome!" Everyone who had, or at least was willing to confess would have to stand and take a drink. I'm bringing it to my blog in an irregular series, with less alcohol, but asking the questions that can be considered a little risque in the book blogging world and listing the answers here. This is a massive just for fun exercise and do join in with comments and tales of your own. I'll even accept drunken university tales in lieu of actual replies to the questions.

So... I have never lied in a book review. Straight up. What you see is what I feel. If I loved it I gush. If I hated it I say so - the only concession I will make is trying to make it at least a little constructive rather than just vitriolic hate towards a book.

I asked this question on Twitter and some people kindly allowed me to use their replies!

The simply gorgeous Adele (especially now she's smiling and kick ass in her Twitter profile pic!): "No, but I have thought I might have reviewed something differently in light of stuff I've read since." (I actually agree a little here with Adele - having read more books in particular genres, I almost want to revisit books I read and gave harsh reviews to, to see if I feel differently).

 Self-proclaimed scruffy bastard Paul Graham Raven: "Yes, when I first started. You don't want to be the new guy hatin' on stuff that the big names like, do you? :)" (Well, I scoffed rather at a few points in Joe Abercrombie's debut novel, so I don't think I follow this line of reasoning *grin*)

Glamorous and very tall Ewa said:  "When I wrote a few reviews for a local paper as a teenager, definitely. I was unnecessarily positive." (Please blog more, Ewa - PLEASE!)

Andrew - still fairly new to blogging, welcome him! - said: "I've never lied in reviews, but I hate pointing faults out. I would say "not for me" or "not my age group"." (I think that pointing out faults is essential in order to be honest - but there is a right way and a wrong way to achieve this. Sometimes I manage to achieve this, sometimes I don't!)

Blogger extraordinaire Civilian Reader (seriously, if you're not reading this blog, why not?! He does a great line in Black Library reviews) explained: "Never lied; but same as @, though less a lie than change in situation. Sometimes change mind after review, with hingsight. Actually, in some ways yes; I often tone down praise - I'm put off by hyperbole, so often my reviews seem drier than they should."

Another fairly new blogger, Lisa, said:  "I've never lied, but I've definitely felt guilty saying anything mean about an author's work b/c I know how tough criticism can be" (I think Lee Harris from Angry Robot put it best when he said that any person who has managed to complete a novel deserves praise in terms of that, even if the novel itself doesn't succeed on particular levels. I do believe us book reviewers sometimes fail to remember that - and therefore the guilt in giving negative reviews should remain, since it tempers the harshest criticism).

Jo from Once Upon a Bookcase said: "Nope, never. I've never seen the point. I'm as positive or negative in my review as I actually feel about the book." And Mr Cheesecake agreed with this: "My posts are just my opinion. No point in lying. I want people to read what I think not what I think they want to hear."

I think the overwhelming response was similar to that provided by Adam from the Wertzone (pre-eminent fantasy blog): "No. However, hindsight, reading experience or just plain age sometimes changes things. 12-year-old Wert loved Eddings, 32-year-old Wert less keen."

Other responses can be found on my Twitter feed.

Go on, your turn! Have you ever lied in a book review? Confession time is open!


  1. No. My blog, my rules. And my rule is "I'm going to say what I think about a book and tell you why." Anything else wouldn't feel right to me.

    Aaron (Dreaming About Other Worlds).

  2. Nope, but Wert is absolutely right in saying views can change. Sometimes dramatically.

  3. I've never lied, but I have withheld. I try to find a balance of negative and positive, because I don't want a review to be completely negative, even if I hated a book. But I won't say I liked something I didn't.

  4. Never lied on my blog, and never will.
    But I must say I almost didn't publish my trashing of The City & The City, and was nervous about my bad review of The Eye of the World.
    -But the Wheel of Time fans have not suggested hanging me! (Maybe because they haven't read it :-P)

  5. Nope, never lied. I have the disclaimer on my blog that everthing expressed is my opinion, and I stand by that.

    I have, however, done reviews for books that I end up feeling differently about later on, usually after a reread. But at the time of the initial review, everything I said was valid, and I certainly didn't lie.

  6. I never lie in reviews, and it's pretty funny when I don't like a book a publisher sent me as a review copy...they won't even twitter about the review. LOL.

    I'd rather people know if I loved it or hated it...but yeah, like you Amanda I try to temper bad reviews with reasons and statistics ect.

  7. I feel reluctant being too critical when I write reviews for my new blog. I always point out the positives so it doesnt feel I'm 'trashing' a book.

    @weirdmage oh, we've read your review. Currently, the underground WoT HCFF Associaton is planning how to get back to you. There have been suggestions to name you a 'darkfriend'.

  8. No, I haven't but I mostly rewiev books I like so there's not many unpositive book rewievs that I've made. Not in my blog (wery new) or in real life.

  9. Amanda- Criticism is one of those things that's tough to receive and to give. It's just a necessary evil- and anyone in the writing, publishing and blogging world probably deals with it daily.

    I love this feature, btw! I can't wait to see more "I have never's." :)

  10. I've never lied in a review. I do sometimes find myself omitting specific criticisms from a review, but only when the flow of the review forces my hand.

  11. OMG, I've gotten so drunk on this game in my student days rofl

    But no, I've never lied in a review, though as others have said, views may change on reread or reflection. And like Chris, sometimes some of the things I've jotted down during reading, fall by the wayside, because I can't explain them without giving huge spoilers for the book or it breaks up the flow of the review.