I’m lucky enough to have met and interviewed many authors, and I can tell you without a doubt that authors are fabulous, funny, clever, and kind. Almost all of them are more approachable and easier to really talk to than the countless actors and other celebrities I’ve interviewed as an entertainment journalist. But the downside to meeting an author or corresponding with them on Twitter is that every now and then, you read a book by an author you like and it does nothing for you — or worse, you actively dislike it. This has happened to me a few times throughout the years, but for some reason, this has come up more often this year than any other I can remember.
Of course I know that not every author’s book (or series installment, for that matter) is necessarily going to be better than their last. This happens more often in multi-book series, but it also happens with authors of standalones. But every now and then it almost feels like you *can’t* be open about not liking an author’s book, not just because you like that author, but because the author has a fandom that’s so engaged that you will certainly get flamed for admitting that for various reasons you weren’t enchanted with or plain disliked a book.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]You have a right to criticize or dislike or feel disappointed by a book that is written by an author you normally love or a popular author all your friends love.[/pullquote]
Has this happened to you? Do you end up feeling like you can’t talk about or review an author’s sub-par (in your opinion) book? Do you like an author so much you give an extra star on Goodreads because you like the author despite the title? I know people who’ve admitted to this, and I have friends who’ve had to text or speak in secret about their disappointment in a book, because they like the author so much or they actually “fear” being targeted by the author’s legion of fans.
So let me say this now, as an older reader of YA and a professional critic. You have a right to criticize or dislike or feel disappointed by a book that is written by an author you normally love or a popular author all your friends love. Just because an author is a best seller doesn’t mean that every book they write is a masterpiece. You don’t have to stay silent about thinking a book was “meh” or a two-star level at best.
That doesn’t mean you should trash the author (that’s not a productive or professional way to write a review), but it does mean you don’t need to save your concerns, criticism of a book to private texts or messages. As a book blogger, you are not a publicist. I value book bloggers who constructively criticize books, but that’s easier done when the author isn’t a Twitter friend or the series is (or was) one of your favorites.
What is your advice for dealing with this issue?