The other day on Goodreads, I thanked a reviewer for including an honest content advisory in her review. She replied by saying that I was welcome but she had a hard time writing negative reviews.
Can giving content advisories and writing positive reviews go together?
For the past few years, I’ve included a lengthy content advisory at the end of each of my reviews. Even if these things didn’t effect my enjoyment of the book, I felt as if everything needed to be mentioned for the sake of parents choosing reading material for their children.
Here’s an example from this past summer when I reviewed Water Princess, Fire Prince. “Parent’s may want to have caution in considering this book for younger readers because of some feminist attitudes (that do come around some later in the book), SPOILER ALERT! strong romance between older teenagers (including awkward thoughts of physical affection and the actual thing mostly after an arranged marriage). There is also a scary dragon, intense action, teenage attitude (not including disrespect of authority), and a fantasy portrayal of God.”
Not only is that too wordy, but also having a huge content advisory right at the end of my review does come off a little negative, doesn’t it?
Then I read Chautona Havig’s blog post “Quick and Dirty Guide to Book Reviews”. This encouraged me to just note my content concerns. Just state only the major ones to give a flavor of what the book is like. And not to even call them concerns.
Here’s how I would rewrite my content advisory for that specific book (which I dearly love, by the way!!! Four stars!): “Just a note, there is some strong romance SPOILER ALERT! between married teens, thematic action, and slight feminism.”
You still get the same idea, but much more positively. These things did matter to me (hence four stars), but I didn’t say they should matter to you. I didn’t hate on the book or the author of it. I stuck to the facts, and earlier in the review it’s balanced with quite a bit of positive fangirling. 😉
And if the book was too much of a problem, I just give it a rating and let my friends ask for more details.
How do you leave honest, gracious reviews?