What I Don’t Like in Reviews {Discuss #1}


I’m always going to be very straightforward in my discussions so if I sound harsh or “in your face” …sorry, I just want this to be short, interesting, and straight to the point.

What bothers me in reviews is when a reviewer gives a lower rating just because the characters were “annoying” a “jerk” or whatever. I’ve been thinking about this WAY before I started blogging. I just read these reviews that are all about “the protagonist was annoying. Her best friend is a jerk & all these judgements etc.).

Now, I know you’re free to write your thoughts blah blah.. yeah I KNOW THAT! But I just don’t think it’s fair that you’re rating a book 2 stars or 1 star JUST because you thought the protagonist was annoying or whatever flaws that character has. What if they were MEANT to be annoying? What if the author made the protagonist annoying on purpose because it’s part of the story? I think we should critique a book on how well written it is.

What I mean by well written? Well, let’s go back to elementary. There’s a climax, resolution, rising action and all that fun stuff our English teacher taught us. 😉

Now, character development is a whole different topic. IF the characters had no development at all (they’re flat, had no personality, sounded like Siri or worse etc.) THEN I understand you! Like in real life, just take the characters for who they are. For example..

Cindy (talking to Ashley): “woah how did Sam get 100% on her math test?”
Ashley: I don’t know. That’s just how she is. She’s Sam. Sam is Sam. That’s just how she rolls.

Characters are also like that in books. They are who they are. Take it or leave it.

What I’m saying is, just be OPEN MINDED. A book does not deserve a low rating just because you didn’t like a character’s personality or for what he/she did. Again, character development is a different thing.

What I’m trying to say is… look at the bigger picture. Look at the whole book (plot, character development, world building, storyline, etc.) don’t just focus on one thing. If you focus on one thing that you DIDN’T like, then I think that one thing will BOTHER YOU SO MUCH that will cause you to lower down your rating.

This is part of the Let’s Discuss meme hosted by Oh, Chrys! & Fiction Conniption.

32 Responses to “What I Don’t Like in Reviews {Discuss #1}”

  1. 1 Steve August 1, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    Well said! A passing comment about a character is fine, but it certainly shouldn’t impact on the rating just because of where a character scores on some ‘likeability’ scale. I’ve read books where I despise the lead, but that’s the whole point – a kind of voyeurism as you hope to see them get their just desserts or reach some painful epiphany. And as for ‘kneejerk’ reactions to characters, well too bad! We like and dislike in the most random, illogical ways possible and still we should be able to take a step back and think: “CanI see how others may like this character that I detest?” – I think we’d most of us find some redeeming features, however begrudgingly admitted to.

    Thanks for raising an important subject! 🙂

    • 2 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 1, 2013 at 12:40 AM

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! Yes, commenting on how the protagonist was annoying blah blah is fine, but should no way affect a book’s rating (in my opinion). I think reviewers should see a book as a whole, and not just on one particular thing. Same thing goes to covers, just because a cover is unattractive does not mean we should give the book a 1 star rating.

      • 3 Steve August 1, 2013 at 1:26 AM

        With you completely Leigh! 🙂 Some of my favourite books have had some pretty dreadful covers during their many incarnations. I’d hate to think folk missed out simply because of that.

  2. 4 Kaitlin Snider August 1, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    Hey, I love the topic and what you have to say about it. It reminds me of my response in a recent interview question I answered, so you know I agree with you. 🙂

    • 5 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 1, 2013 at 12:45 AM

      Bahaha you inspired me to create this post 😀 I was kind of hesitant to post a discussion about this topic, but when I saw your interview I was like HEY! I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THAT WE SHOULDN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS CHARACTERS!

      • 6 Kaitlin Snider August 1, 2013 at 12:50 AM

        I’m happy I was able to do that. 🙂

        A lot of characters have those “annoying” qualities for the sake of growing out of them and developing as a person.

  3. 7 Francoise August 1, 2013 at 2:27 AM

    I love the discussion idea. Anyways I sort of agree but disagree at the same time. I think if the protagonist is annoying and I just CANNOT empathise with him/her its just not fun to read BUT I don’t think it should lower your rating to a 2. If you’re a good blogger then you have to look at things from all point of views so I don’t think you should lower the rating so much. Like I find America in The Elite annoying but it was still a good book.

    • 8 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 1, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Thanks! 🙂 I see your point, if the MC is annoying then it would bring down the enjoyment of reading the book. But maybe that’s how the MC is supposed to be. We’ll just have to deal with him/her. But if there’s no development; if she/he is constantly making the same decision over, and over again till the book ended, then I think the author needs to work on the character more.

  4. 9 Asti (A Bookish Heart) August 1, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    I agree, but part of me disagrees. Haha. I’ve definitely thought about this before when reading other reviews. It can sometimes seem like a reviewer only latches onto how much they hate a MC and spends the entire review complaining about their personality, actions, etc. And I agree that can be frustrating and limited, because there really is so much more going on with a book just besides one character.

    I think the reason why it is such a problem though is because most YA books are in first person or stick to following one MC around so closely. If you’re constantly in a character’s head who you find annoying, stupid, disagreeable, etc. it can be hard to enjoy the story. You may find yourself rolling your eyes at their actions, questioning their motives, etc. Even if you try to be open-minded and stick it out to the end, it may be hard to focus on anything else just because you’re constantly having to deal with that character. I think reviewers have just come to the point where they don’t want to waste time not enjoying a book because a character is so annoying, and rather stick with those they can fully stand behind.

    So part of me is like heck yeah, Leigh’s right! Because really, we should be open-minded and yes, a lot of times the characters are the way they are because of growth (and c’mon, there are just annoying and easy-to-dislike people in the world), but then part of me is like… Well, it can ruin the enjoyment of any other thing because how can you care about a plot if you don’t care about a character? Or even if the plot is good, it might be tainted by your dislike of a character.

    Really, I think for me The Wolves of Mercy Falls series is the reason why I’m so split on this. I hated the characters. Almost all of them. I read all three books, I tried to give them a chance. I reviewed all three books and tried to include references to other bits of the novel that I struggled with as well (specifically plot). But, I really think my dislike for the characters ruined the entire series for me especially because I was constantly in their heads.

    So, I’m rambling WAY too much in this comment. I was just trying to adequately explain how I stand on both sides of this. I hope I make sense ><

    • 10 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 1, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Hahaha you made total sense! I see your point and thought of that before. I agree on how some characters are very unbearable = they ruin the enjoyment of the book. That happens to me at times, but I try to ignore it. OOhhh The Wolves of Mercy Falls was BLEGH. I thought the plot was really bad and the characters were just MEHHHHH.. They were just flat for me.

  5. 11 Christine @ Oh, Chrys! August 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    This post makes for an interesting discussion. There are many characters that I can think of who were thoroughly unlikeable, but their characterization, which is more important, is impressive. However, I do not mind when people show their disgust for a character for being a ‘jerk’ or whatever. Reviews are all about personal reaction, so while I do not lower ratings because of ‘jerks’ and the like, I can see how a person’s emotions can allow that to happen.

    • 12 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 1, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Oh yeah, I totally don’t mind people showing how much they didn’t like the characters in their review. I do that too like “oh she was an idiot for making this decision etc.” but at the end, we should look at the book as a whole. I think it’s unfair to rate a book just because of a character’s personality. We’re supposed to be rating the book, not how much we liked a character.

  6. 13 Merin August 1, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Hmm. I’m sort of torn on this. I am going to use an example of a book who had one character that I despised – Splintered by AG Howard – because that one character (Morpheus, fyi) absolutely ruined the entire book for me. While there were aspects of the story I enjoyed (namely, the actual retelling part), Morpheus’ interactions and manipulations of the main character just bothered me to the point where I just couldn’t enjoy the book at all, and I ultimately gave it two stars. The thing is, I rate according to my enjoyment, and it’s not just how well-written a book is that determines how much I enjoyed it, you know? It’s the way EVERYTHING came together that helps me decide my ultimate feelings. If I don’t like the characters – particularly the main character, whose eyes I’m having to see things through – then it’s certainly going to impact my enjoyment of the story, you know? So while I can see where you’re coming from, I ultimately don’t agree, or at least, not completely, if that makes sense.

    • 14 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 1, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      Yeah I understand what you’re saying. I think it all depends on the person and how they review the books. I review the books not just for enjoyment, but if the author executed the world building well etc. There’s no right or wrong answer in this and I’m sorry that you’re torn D: it’s cause I think with this discussion, there’s an “agree” side to this and a “disagree” since we all review books differently. This is just how I see reviews like that, and only one of the many perspectives. Thanks for participating in the discussion!

  7. 15 Kaitlin Snider August 1, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    I’m back for another comment! I’m keeping track of the conversation.

    I think when it comes to things like this, it all depends on the readers personality. I completely agree with you, and here’s why: I am extremely lenient and flexible when it comes to characters or other aspects of books. I rarely get annoyed with character, and therefore they don’t get in the way of how much I enjoy a book. I do often see characteristics that could be annoying and could affect someone else’s view of the whole book, but they still don’t get in the way. This fits in with my personality because I can find the bright side to everything, so while I read, I look for the good and don’t dwell on the bad. Maybe that’s why I don’t get annoyed with characters often: I intentionally look for the good and beneficial characteristics.

    Of course, I’ve had my exceptions. My two least two favorite books (and a third that I never finished and don’t ever want to finish) are my least favorite mainly because of the characters. It also had to do with the authors’ writing, though, and lack of good plot or an annoying element.

    So, yeah, the way we view characters and how much we allow the things we don’t like about them affect our ratings is all based on our personality. Therefore, there really isn’t a wrong way as to go about this topic (okay, there are probably extremes that wouldn’t be okay).

  8. 19 Alise August 1, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Interesting post! I guess I can understand, I just never come across reviews like that before (I hope I don’t write them like that! haha) where a person just complains about the character. I think sometimes it could be rated low because of that but not ONLY because of that. Like I DNFed one book because all the character cared about was materialistic things and boyfriends. I guess she could have changed but I couldn’t tolerate her for that long :p

    • 20 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 1, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Haha you don’t! 🙂 Ooh nice point, I can see why someone would DNF or give a book a low rating if the characters talked about nothing but BOYS, BOYS, BOYS D: (hey, remember my review on Fae? Bad romance? lol). The author should’ve developed his/her characters more.

  9. 21 Lizzy August 2, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    Well, I agree and yet I disagree. If the character is meant to be annoying or a jerk and there are consequences for his/her actions, then yes…don’t rate low because of the character’s personality.

    If the character is annoying or a jerk and everyone else is the book is treating the character like Jesus, then you’d better believe that I’m slapping a one or two star on that book. The reason is not the personality, but that the reaction to the personality is not realistic. I consider that poor writing on the author’s part.

    Not all characters have to be likeable, but they have to be believeable.

    • 22 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 2, 2013 at 2:09 AM

      Yup like I said, if it’s bad character development then I get why someone would give the book a low rating. The author should put a realistic scene or something to make the character’s choices believable. I think the author needs to work on how her/his characters would be appealing or more connectable with the readers.

      However, if the character is throwing tantrums or ‘mad’ and there’s a legit reason why (maybe the character is going through something or is sick) and a reviewer’s like “ehhh” 2 star cause she/he was annoying & mad.. then I would be like.. what…? why? The character was going through something.. the character was meant to be that way.

  10. 23 Fly to the Sky August 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    I totally get what your saying. I think it is a bit harsh to judge a book based solely on one character. If there are several annoying characters then that is a whole different story.
    I think that I’ve read some books where my rating has greatly dropped because of the violent scary annoying main character or more often love interest.
    And I think that another thing you have to take into account is that sometimes two stars actually means that it was an okay book. It depends on the reviewer’s rating system.
    Overall that was a great discussion. I definitely agree that so many people rate books based to much on the characters. And I have to admit that I’m probably one of those people sometimes. Great post!! 🙂

    • 24 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 2, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      Good point! I think it depends on how people rate books too. That’s the other thing I forgot to include on the post. For me, a 2 star rating is low and since I take part in blog tours, the tour host people always says if we rate books below 3 stars then we should post our review outside of the tour.. but then there are other people who consider a 2 star rating as an “it was an okay read” b/c that’s what Goodreads have on their site. Yeah I can be one of those people sometimes too but only if the character was unbearable and the author did not have a legit reason/scene of why the character was acting that way, that’s why I said we should all be open minded and not let the annoyance of the character get in our way when reviewing.

  11. 25 Charlotte August 3, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    I do get your point, Leigh. Sometimes, I even appreciate authors who can manage to make their characters so annoying that they really felt real. But if they’re flat and generic, that’s another story. And that would earn a snarky review from me.

    When I do reviews, I do not just look at the characters. I even give some of them a reprieve if their irksomeness is tolerable and wouldn’t even mention it in my review. I look at the plot, the world building, the dialogue and interactions, the love story (if relevant), the moral lesson of the story, the manner of writing and all those mentally draining stuff.
    I can’t say the same thing for other reviewers as they really have their own interpretation. Some would root for the book because they love the characters even if the plot is mediocre.
    To tell you frankly, I am reading a not so known series this past few days and I am really near my boiling point with my hatred for the characters (no individuality) but I was still able to give it a 3 stars because I happened to enjoy the world building and the story in general. 😀

    Thoughts and Pens

    • 26 Leigh (LittleBookStar) August 4, 2013 at 12:11 AM

      I agree, if the characters just fall flat or if they’re annoying and there’s no reason for them to be then *thumbs down*. But if the review is all about how the characters were this that etc. and the reviewer didn’t mention anything about the world building, the plot, the writing style then I’d be like HUH?

  12. 27 Mel@thedailyprophecy August 4, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    I always look at the bigger picture, but a book definitely lowers in rating when I can’t connect with the character. That can be because it’s a total asshole or because there is no development. Liking a character is just a very important aspect to me 🙂


  13. 28 annie07 August 4, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    I totally get what you mean and I can see how it’s not fair to rate a book based on the characters. However, for someone who centres around characters when reading, it is often hard NOT to look at characters and that often shows in my reviews. I spend a good amount of time talking about my thoughts on the characters but I like to say that I am fairly conscientious of the fact that they may be written to be annoying. But it shouldn’t become so that reading the book, I’m only ever thinking about how frustrating they are. Like I said though, I do understand what you’re saying and that’s why I try to even out my reviews so it doesn’t seem solely focused on the characters.

    In the end though, I base my ratings primarily on how I felt while reading though characters I dislike could definitely lower the rating. I guess it’s all just a matter of how you are as a reader. It depends on what you look for in a book but I definitely agree with you that a review, even if the reviewer is character inclined (for lack of a better phrase – how do you describe that???), shouldn’t be all about the characters.

  14. 29 Laura (@xbooksmartie) August 4, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Mhm…I do think of this a bit differently. I mean , in my reviews I rate books depending on how much I enjoyed them and if a couple of characters really annoy me that usually makes me not like the books as much anymore. For me, that doesn’t have a lot to do with giving a book a chance. After all there are books that I love – and they usually don’t have annoying characters in them. I just think if you read a book all the way through and then have an opinion on it, it doesn’t really matter what made you love/hate the book. The overall impression is more important to me. Then again, I guess this is a topic everyone has to handle the way they believe is best 🙂 Great post, by the way!

  15. 30 Sarah J August 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    In my reviews I break down my thoughts of the characters and rate them, but my rating scales of characters don’t affect my overall rating of the book, but at the same time I’ll come across a book with characters that ruined the whole entire story for me and it makes it hard for me to rate it something high if I don’t feel like it is deserving of that rating.

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Well hello there! Thank you so much for stopping by. Little Book Star is a young adult book blog ran by Leigh, an 18 year old avid reader. This blog consists of book reviews, giveaways, author interviews, and more! Feel free to explore!

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