Bookish Discussion · Books

Should ARC reviews always be positive?

As you’re reading the title, I can already see you going, “Of course not! You’re supposed to be honest while reviewing.” And yes, I agree. The whole point of being an advanced reader is that you provide the author/publisher with real, helpful feedback. However, and maybe this is a thing that only I do, whenever I read an ARC that I don’t love, I still maintain in my negative review that “it’s just my opinion” and “you should still check it out for yourself.” The whole point of a book review is to hear what someone thought of it and you decide whether you want to/don’t want ย to read it too. If I tell you that you should read the book to know how it is, what was the point of reviewing the book at all?

I am a very small book blogger so I don’t have publishers running left, right and center yearning for my attention (though hey publishers, if you want to, I’m not complaining ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) so if I want an ARC, I send a request for it. Obviously, I request books I want to read and I think I’d likeย (though alternative discussion topic – Should we only request books we think we’d like?) based off the summary or the author or the fact that a lot of other bloggers enjoyed it. If it’s approved, I read it, collect my thoughts and write a review, as I would for any other book I decide to review. If I enjoy the book, like I though I would, well and good – I give it a glowing review and hope that all the readers read it! BUT, if I don’t like it so much, I have a bit of a dilemma.

Publishers have a limited number of ARCs of books so being approved at all is amazing and something that I am grateful for which is why it absolutely sucks to have to be like, “hey thanks for the book you gave me before everyone else but it’s terrible.” One of the main reasons ARCs exist is to create buzz about the book, get people excited to buy and read it when it’s out along with of course, giving the publisher feedback on any issues you have with the book. When I am someone who was chosen to read a book before it’s out and was sent the book for free, I feel a bit guilty saying I didn’t like it and giving a book. It’s even worse when an author, who is very sweet in their emails, sends me a book and I have to tell them I hated it. :/

So far, I’ve spoken only about how bad I feel when I give an ARC a low rating/bad review but I still do it anyway and you should too. Here is why:

  • As an advanced reader, it is your duty to tell the world (slight exaggeration) what they’ll be investing their money in buying
  • It is pertinent to give honest feedback to authors/publishers who have deemed you worthy (what is my word choice) of reading it before everyone else. They asked you for a review because they want your authentic, unbiased opinion on it so that they can improve
  • A review is your opinion on something and people read it to know your thoughts about it, so you will lose credibility as a reviewer if you are dishonest
  • (this one is a bit cheesy) You need to be true to yourself (awwwww)

In conclusion, getting ARCs is awesome and something I am thankful for, but I will still be honest in my reviews, whether I like it or not. What I want to start doing is stop apologizing in all of my negative reviews because you know what? It’s my opinion and I’m not sorry about it.


What do you think about giving ARCs a higher rating than they deserve? Do you do it subconsciously/out of guilt?ย Do you think reviews should always be honest?


13 thoughts on “Should ARC reviews always be positive?

  1. This is something that I REALLY struggle with. I recently got a book from Penguin and I didn’t like it. At all!! It was the first time getting sent books from them and I’m worried that a negative review will put them off having me as a reviewer. But I decided that no matter what I have to stay true to my opinions. Yes I know I’m getting sent the book to create hype, but at the same time it would feel wrong to hype something I can’t full heartedly stand behind. I’m sure publishers understand that not everyone will love every book. At least I hope they understand lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m always really worried about that too! Sometimes I think if I write negative reviews, the publishers won’t send me more books but at the same time, I don’t want to write a positive review for a book I didn’t like. The struggle is real.
      I’m sure publishers ensure that the limited people who receive ARCs are people whose opinions they value so stick to giving honest feedback ๐Ÿ‘

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely discussion! I think it’s extremely important to provide honest reviews, even if it’s negative, for ARCs. However I would be lying if I said that I haven’t felt uncomfortable reviewing an ARC negatively or criticising it in any way. I try my very best to put such criticisms in the best way possible, especially if I’ve been contacted by the author. It’s just so uncomfortable sometimes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Precisely. I don’t want to lie and say I loved it when I didn’t but at the same time, I don’t want to tell someone I hated their book. ๐Ÿ™€
      The struggle is real.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. SAME. Glad to know I’m not alone ๐Ÿ˜„
      I think it’s important to remember that you got the ARC because someone wants your opinion so you definitely shouldn’t hold back ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, I don’t know enough people who read the same kind of books, or have the same taste as me. And when I read something I don’t personally like, I can usually think of one or two friends who might have a different opinion. If that’s the case, then I’d go for that “this is just my opinion, I know people who like X may like this more than I did…” route. But if I find the book absolutely reprehensible, then I guess I won’t hold back ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good way of mentioning that you personally didn’t like it but others did. It’s great that you don’t hold back on books you find problematic ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ‘


  4. When I first started out as a blogger I used to feel like that too. I don’t think I ever said no while recommending a book, it was always a maybe when I didn’t like it. But now I clearly state my opinions even if it’s an ARC.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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