I Have Trouble Reviewing Popular Books

I have so little desire to review “popular” or “hyped” books if I agree with the majority. I usually feel like I have nothing to add to what thousands of people have already said.

I recently encountered this problem when I sat down to review Cress by Marissa Meyer. I felt like hundreds of bloggers had already reviewed the book, and everyone who did absolutely loved it. Everyone who reviewed Cress had also already read the other two books in the series and loved those. So when I read Cress and loved it, I felt like there was nothing left to be said. Everyone already covered how amazing it was, to the point where I felt like it has become generally accepted that the entire Lunar Chronicles series is amazing. Period. That’s it.

Now if I had NOT liked the book, I would have had no problem reviewing it because I’d be offering a new view point. But I loved it! And when I sat down to write my review, I just felt like I had nothing new or original to add my review that hadn’t already been said by someone. I think this was made worse by the fact that Cress is a series. I loved Cinder, then I loved Scarlet, so my review for Cress was basically, “Cress was just as amazing as the two other books!” And that’s it. That’s all I really had to say.

Do you have a hard time reviewing popular books?

Do you ever feel like you don’t know what to say other than “It was amazing”?

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  1. Yeeeees. Gah. It feels horrible to admit: but yes, it is easier to write negative reviews sometimes! I reviewed Cress on the release date, so I wasn’t flooded by a million reviews. But I can see how it’d be to review it now. I’m already skipping reading Cress reviews, because I know it was awesome and we’re all raving about the same things. It’s a bit dry now? But Marissa Meyer IS amazing and deserves the publicity, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s hard.

  2. Oh yeah, I have this problem. Coming up with things to say is always hard, but when everyone loves a book and has read and reviewed it before you get the chance, sometimes it feels like you just repeat what they have to say. I worry that my reviews bring nothing new or fun or interesting, and just reiterate what everyone else is thinking. Even if I avoid reviews until I’ve written mine, I still feel like my “amazing” is one in a million.

  3. I’ve never really thought of this before!
    I don’t think its necessarily difficult for me to write a review of a wildly popular readily reviewed novel that everyone loves. But then again, I am always HUGELY behind in reading new releases, so by the time my review of the hyped book goes up, it’s usually been a while since everyone was raving about it anyway.
    I guess this is kind of unrelated, but I am always a bit scared of READING popular books that everyone loves. I mean – what if I don’t love it? I’ll be the black sheep. People may attack me for it. *cue anxiety* And then when people see you’re reading the book, they’re all: ohmygosh YAY I hope you love this book. And then there’s this PRESSURE to love the book, and it kind of makes the whole reading experience of said book kind of stressful. Anyway, that was kind of unrelated. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted: Book Review: Demonic Dora (The Demon Diaries #1) by Claire Chilton
  4. That is so so so true. It’s so hard to be able to come up with something that hasn’t already been said. “I loved it! And so did all these other people! And they already said what I would’ve said, and you’ve probably already read their reviews. :/ ”

    Usually if it comes to that I would just write a small paragraph review on Goodreads explaining that I enjoyed it but not a full length review, since I feel like there’s no point and I’m just repeating/rephrasing what others have already said.

    What I would prefer to do with a book like that is discuss it (and by it I mean the whole book, spoilers and all) with people who’ve already read it, cause it gives me a chance to gush and flail and for others to do the same alongside haha.

    1. I think I mostly feel the same way as you about older releases, provided the book isn’t super popular. For example, I could never review Harry Potter, because although that is an older release, it’s generally accepted that Harry Potter is freaking amazing. I feel like there’s nothing left to be said there. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Agreed, I also have this problem. In cases like that I try and keep it short. I just mention a few things I loved and tada! It’s a wrap. lol. Also, I’ll maybe link a review or two that I read who’s thoughts mirrored mine. Lazy, but it works.

    I’m starting Cinder next week with my friend Jess. We are buddy reading them all straight through. Pretty excited.

  6. I have a horrible time reading popular books. They never seem to live up to my expectations, so I usually try to avoid them until after the hype dies down.

    Though I have them, I still haven’t read Harry Potter or the Hunger games or a few dozen other popular books just for that fact. I will one day, but…

  7. Interesting topic! I used to and even still sometimes I will think “what do I even say about this?!” but then I think about whether the book is just popular in the book blogging community or if it’s a book like Divergent or Hunger Games etc which is wildly popular outside. (Seriously a lot of the books we think are popular are actually not that big outside this community) So then once I think about THAT I’m able to write my review with the mindset that this review is more for people outside the community. I know personally I do have a decent readership of non bloggers so I say the things that need to be said about it even if if feels like overkill because they might have not heard anything about it. It’s still hard sometimes feeling that “what more can I say” thing but with that mindset I’m typically able to trudge through it. I just read Divergent early this year and chose not to review it bc I really did feel like..what else is there to say ? The whole world knows by now. In other cases I didn’t really do a formal review of the book but something different just to get my feels out!

    1. First of all, awesome name ๐Ÿ˜€

      Did you finish the Divergent series? I’m still too afraid to grab that last book after all of the bad reviews. Also awesome idea about writing your reviews for everyone and not just people in the book community. You know I never really thought about my reviews and people outside of the community but that makes so much sense. I’m sure not everyone is a huge part of the book or book blogging community and it makes sense to write reviews that they’ll like and enjoy too instead of just assuming everyone already knows everything about the book. TY, you’ve given me a lot to think about.

  8. Oh I also meant to add about how when I started reading Harry potter last year that here was no way I was reviewing it so I just did a post with some of my twitter comments and everyone’s reactions to my naive HP mind! That was fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I am so with you on this. Its hard when you agree with everything else everyone else has said. I have been having that issue lately too. There are so many books I get off netgalley that I can review them early but there are some (Like Cress) that I wasn’t so lucky to get. So by the time I get to, its been reviews a million times. I feel no one is going to read my review when they have already read tons. but I guess that is part of the issue with popular books. I think you should still review. I enjoy your reviews.

    JennRenee recently posted: Delightful Discoveries #55
  10. I totally get this, Ashley! Just like you, this especially happens to me when it comes to really hyped books that I loved! Some really popular books I loved that I failed to review are: THG, The Fault In Our Stars, Eleanor & Park, Just One Day! Actually, I really have trouble reviewing books I loved but when they’re really popular too? I’m out of words!

  11. I am like Chiara, I have a hard time wanting to read a ‘hyped’ up book because what if I don’t like it. I wasn’t a fan of two very hyped up books (Twilight, Hunger Games) so now I get nervous..lol.

    Sometimes it’s hard to think of something new to say when it’s all been said but I just do it anyway because I requested the book to review.

    Stormi recently posted: Freakquency blog tour sign up
  12. I have a hard time thinking of something unique to say. My book reviews are lacking – in that I don’t go into great detail with it. If I liked the book, I usually give a little bit about why I liked it. Strong heroine, great chemistry, etc.

    I know some people highlight the books they read on their kindle and refer back to those highlights. They do chapter by chapter reviews, it seems. Honestly, when I read reviews like these, I tend to lose interest. Just tell me if you liked the book and why, bottom line, how many stars?!

    Just my 2c.

    Lori L. Clark recently posted: Cover Reveal: Number Thirteen
  13. I do often have trouble articulating my thoughts on a book, but I never let a well-reviewed book stop me from reviewing. My thoughts are MINE, so while they may be similar to others, no one’s ever written my thoughts on the book. And review writing for me isn’t about what everyone else wrote or adding something new to the conversation. It’s about documenting how I felt about the book.

    Even if 10 people think a book is amazing, they might have 10 different reasons why it’s amazing. Different people notice different aspects about the book or characters or plot. Doesn’t your voice and your opinion count for something? It should.

    I’ve even done “revisit” reviews where I compare my review to my associate reviewers on my blog. It’s fun to see how similar we are in our thinking—or how we differ.

    1. Yeah that can be hard/awkward sometimes (happened to me with Eleanor & Park), but at least you’d be offering a new perspective!

  14. I definitely agree. It’s difficult to review books that everyone loved and I loved as well. At the same time though, I generally accepted that I don’t review every single book I read. So it’d probably just end up in my unreviewed pile. Although, if it’s been months since the release and there hasn’t been many reviews about the book in a while, I’d probably try to write a review.

  15. Ugh, yes. It’s so hard! But I have trouble with rating them negatively too. I feel like I’ll be judged by all of my readers and told to reread it. I find it easiest to avoid popular books sometimes. I really enjoy finding something most people haven’t read and then share how I feel about it with them. I do enjoy many popular books, though. But you’re right. It’s hard to review something that’s already been reviewed 500 times with the exact same review. Who wants to read that, anyways?

  16. I feel the same. When I pick up a book, I try not to read all the hype about it. If there is hype, I only have a few people I actually trust to give me an honest opinion on it.
    But I also feel that if it has a lot of hype that everyone loved it, and I don’t, I get a bit a backlash from those other readers. I’ve seen it happen to other bloggers and it makes it even more hard to read “Up and coming” books ya know?
    I really enjoyed this post to see that there are so many other people that share the same kind of view for this.
    April and I are starting the Cinder series next week. Looking forward to starting it because I’ve been wanting to read it for a while now. Before all the hype ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Thank you for the great post!!!

    Jessica @ Hackaroo's Reviews recently posted: {Review} Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
  17. I sometimes have a hard time but not because everyone loved it so much or because there are already so many great reviews written about it. Sometimes a book is just so amazing that I’m at a loss for words but two things have really helped take the pressure off of me as far as reviewing popular books go. 1. I don’t review books that I don’t enjoy. I normally don’t even finish them so I just move on and 2. I always try to just capture how a book made me feel and why. I’m not really good at articulating all of the intelligent or good points in the story. I mean I can tell good writing from bad (in most cases) but I can’t tell you why the bad writing is bad. There’s a lot of really intelligent, witty and even humorous reviewers out there so I just try to concentrate on my feelings. I generally don’t read more than one or two reviews and that’s just to get an idea of what others thought, just like coming here. I don’t read all of the comments first so it won’t influence how I reply.

    I don’t try to look at a review as adding anything new. I just try to add my feelings which usually involves using the word awesome a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jamie Pinson recently posted: A Nostalgic Moment.
  18. I know what you mean. But I think we all have a different take on why me loved a book so it is worth writing the review. Plus, not all your blog followers has read all the reviews for said popular book, so yours might be the first one. If I don’t have much to say about a book because, in essence, I just loved it, then I just do a shorter review.

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  19. I have the same problem. Some reviews just feel like you’re just adding another drop to the ocean. I always end up writing a review, though, if only because I remind myself that one reason I started my blog was to create an archive of books I’d read for my own reference, so that I can look back five, ten years from now and learn how I felt about a book when I read it.

    Nikki @ The Paper Sea recently posted: One Can Never Have Too Many Books
  20. In cases like that (because I totally agree) I try to look at what really made the book awesome for me, be it a specific thing or the elements that were done so well and then focus on that instead of making it three paragraphs of “It was all perfect.” I’ve seen reviews like that and so for mine I try to make it more specific to me! But I agree, it can be like that.

    Xoxo, Inky

  21. I totally agree with you, Ashley! Especially if it’s a super-hyped book that I’m reviewing well after it’s been released, I feel like everyone’s been saying the same thing and I won’t have anything new to say about it. Also, when a lot of people post reviews of the same book at around the same time (I’m definitely guilty of this), I get really anxious that people are bored with reading my review because they’ve already read so many other reviews with the same opinion and ratings. Also sometimes if I get a book by surprise, I’m scared to review it because I originally thought that I WASN’T getting the book so I read a bunch of reviews, and now I have to write my own review with everyone else’s thoughts cluttered in my head. Fantastic post, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Applause by Lady Gaga
  22. Interesting topic! Now I actually think about it, I do have a pretty hard time reviewing really popular books… (unless they’re negative reviews indeed). There’s just soooo many people that review it, so many opinions and views that it really gets hard to add something new and meaningful. I always try to, just to offer my honest opinion and maybe start a discussion on the book.

    I actually should do that more! Instead of just a review, maybe start a discussion on a certain topic that’s dealt with in the book ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great discussion post Ashley!

  23. The Lunar Chronicles = Amazing. I just reviewed Cress today. It was such a hard book to organize my thoughts on. I saw a lot of people say I’m not going to review Allegiant because everybody else already has. I read Allegiant and I loved it. I wanted to review it so I could put my thoughts out there. I try to always remember this blog is for me so I can go back and see my thoughts on books. I put it out there so other people can read it, but the book reviews are still mostly for my sake to remember my feelings about a particular book.

    Rachael @ Rachael Turns Pages recently posted: A Month of Rapunzel: Rapunzel Readathon Announcement and Sign Up
  24. Yes, I totally get that! I find it so frustrating when I’m trying to write a review and it sounds exactly like everything everyone else already said! I try not to read many reviews of the book I’m going to review, because I feel like it might influence the way I write my review. I think this is why I wait a while to read popular books, first of all so the blog readers don’t get flooded with so many reviews of the same book at once, and also because that way I won’t get influenced as to how to make my review.
    Great discussion post ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. I totally understand you, Ashley! Sometimes I feel redundant, but seriously, at times there are no other words to say other than “it was awesome” or “I loved it” because it’s true. I do feel lazy reviewing books that have been read and reviewed by lots of people because like you said, they pretty much covered the points that I was going to say. Even though hyped up books have been reviewed by so many people, I still review it because you never know when you’re opinion will effect someone. (:

    Leigh @ Little Book Star recently posted: Where Do Your Ideas Pop Up? {Discuss #12}
  26. I know exactly what you mean! I recently read the Mortal Instruments Series (save for CoLS) and I actually thought that it was quite pointless to review it because there are hundreds and hundreds of reviews on each book!

    Sometimes I find it easier to write negative reviews because in positive reviews I just turn into a gushing fangirl that doesn’t know what to say except “ASDFGHJKL I loved EVERYTHING about it!”

    This is a fantastic post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I have trouble writing reviews for sequels, but I have no problem with popular books. It might be because I tend to either ignore reviews for books I haven’t read, or else I forget them right away. I will usually read one or two reviews for a book, so I don’t have a whole lot to affect my opinions. I don’t let someone else’s voice influence my own. So even if I say things that have already been said, at least it was my honest opinion. It just goes to show how wonderful (or in some cases, terrible) the book was when it can affect a group of people so strongly in the same way.

  28. I think I get that way about all of the books I review sometimes. It can get repetitive. I liked the characters, this plot line worked for me or didn’t work me, list reasons a, b, and c for why some one should read book x.

    BUT there are some readers out there, who as a reviewer you may never know, that want to know your opinion specifically on a book. I have to believe that because it’s what keeps me book blogging after almost four years. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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