I have a problem with book reviewers who are not honest. The job of a review is to review, not to give good books five stars and terrible books 4.5 stars. The job is not to promote bad books with equal excitement good books are promoted with. The point of a review is not to make people waste time and money on things they don’t want.
I see the term “snark” turning up a lot, and while those GIF-filled reviews on Goodreads showing people committing suicide or screaming or whatever can definitely be called snarky, I take issue with honesty being called snarky.
I think a big part of this comes from the fact few people have experience with creativity and critique. Getting a yearly assessment on your office job isn’t going to hit you the way getting a negative assessment of your creative work is going to. But – TOUGH.
My first professional job was at age eight, when I played the Changeling in every cast of the Queensland Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (it was actually illegal for me to be in every show, but we won’t tell child services now!). I remember being fifteen and crying and laughing over various newspaper reviews of my performances.
When you’re in a performance, you’re fair game. It doesn’t matter if you’re only twelve; if the director wants to single you out in a studio full of adults and yell at you and tell you you’re doing a terrible job, they will.
You don’t get to go ballistic because someone told you the truth.
Few authors come to the profession via training. I majored in creative writing at university, which meant I got to have my work very publicly ripped to shreds by my peers every week. You become accustomed to criticism. You expect it.
There is NO point whatsoever reviewing any creative form if you can’t be honest about it. And I don’t like honesty being called snark. I don’t use GIFs of people screaming, and I have never said a book (or television show or movie) made me want to kill myself.
I refuse to say that bad things are good, because in the end all it’s doing is making people part with their money for something they don’t actually want. And I have no problem with people being honest in return.