Can We Be Critical about Our Favorites? | Book Discussion

With all of the talk about Cursed Child surfacing up, this is something that I have been thinking about a lot. I’ve read a lot of five star reviews about—not only this book but so many different books—this that say something along the lines of “I had a lot of problems with this book and the story, but I’m giving this five stars because it’s Harry Potter and I can’t not give 5 stars to a Harry Potter book.” I also watched Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes’s new video this morning and this can serve as a sort of response to that video. (linked below)

As someone who has gotten a lot more conservative with star ratings recently, I find this shocking. Everyone’s rating system is different; I totally get that, I do. However, I highly doubt that anyone’s rating system goes:

· 1 star: A, B, C reasons

· 2 stars: D, E, F reasons

· 3 stars: G, H, I reasons

· 4 stars: J, K, L reasons

· 5 stars: M, N, O reasons and anything written by J.K. Rowling

Okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point, right? Insert the author of your favorite series or the writers of your favorite TV show. Is that still true?

Now, I don’t want to be the rating police and say that if you gave this book or that book a five star rating because it’s part of your favorite series and X author can “do no wrong” that you’re wrong or that you aren’t a real reader/reviewer. If you say that you’re a reader or a reviewer, then you are a reader or a reviewer. It’s that simple. However, I would like to encourage you to be a more critical reader.

Think of the book world like politics. (Stay with me.) We the readers are the citizens of Bookternet. The authors are our Representatives. If we never tell our representatives, “Hey, you know how you only had one female character in your book, and she was a poor representation of a woman,” then they will never know that they were doing something wrong (I mean, logically they could, but just go with me here) or that it was something that the people they were representing cared about.

For example, I absolutely love the Shatter Me trilogy. I love Tahereh Mafi’s writing style, and I am so happy with the character development of Juliette throughout the series. But do I also think that there was zero world building? Yes. Do I think that Juliette has any healthy romantic relationships? No. Do I think Warner is entitled and emotionally abusive to Juliette? Yes. This series is not without its flaws, but I still love it. I am not okay with everything that Mafi does in the story and how she treats certain characters, and I am able to critically look at the story while still enjoying it.

Another example to bring it full circle—good job, Monica, gold star for you—is Harry Potter. There is zero diversity in those books. Racially, religiously, on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum or otherwise. And I am not talking about separate from the books. Rowling telling me that Dumbledore was gay and that Hermione could potentially be black if the reader wanted her to be black doesn’t make Dumbledore gay or Hermione black. If it’s not written in the text, then it’s not diverse.

Inversely, I think it’s important to be able to point out the things that we did like in a book that we didn’t like. For example, if you read a book about a person with OCD—yay, diversity!—but it is only a plot-point or a way for the character to meet their “true love” who can solve all of their problems, then point out in your review, “Hey! I am really glad that this book covered a person who is struggling with OCD; however, I do not like how it was dealt with in X, Y, and Z situations.”

What are your thoughts on this topic? Can we be critical and a fangirl about the same book? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!


1 comment on "Can We Be Critical about Our Favorites? | Book Discussion"