Friday, August 10, 2012

The Danger of Reviewing Outside Your Preferred Genres

As a reviewer, I'm often asked to read and review books that don't fall into any category I would ever want to read. I do try to step outside of those genres and read something new--sometimes to discover if I've missed something great or simply to do a favor for a fellow author. I have to give pause when asked to review one a book outside of my preferred genres. I don't necessarily want to turn down the review, but I have to step away from it and ask myself, "Can I truly remain objective and not allow my personal dislike for a genre cloud my review?" 

Once in a while I'm able to give it a try and I'll be surprised with how much I enjoyed a paranormal or YA book when those are not something I would choose to read for pleasure. Then there are times when I'm asked to read a book and I'll start it only to realize that I would never be able to separate my dislike for a genre and provide a fair and objective review for that book. It doesn't mean the book isn't good--it could be great--but I couldn't in good conscious review the book knowing that my dislike for the genre or subject matter would likely prevent an objective review. 

Does this ever happen to you? We all read and many of us review books online. We pick one up for free or borrow one thinking that perhaps even though it's not one I normally read, it's free so I'll give it a try. It's read and you realize there's a reason why you don't like that genre. Does that mean you shouldn't review it? Of course not. Does it mean that the reviewer should step back and look at the review to make sure it's not negative simply because they don't like the genre? It's something to consider. 

I run into this situation often and sometimes I'll take the plunge and read/review a book for someone. It's not always easy, especially if I get to the end and can't think of three things I genuinely liked about the book. I've had occasion where I had to tell the author I couldn't review the book or I had to pick out the best parts of the book and put a big whopping disclaimer that I don't generally read that genre. I try to completely erase my dislike and keep an open mind in order to remain open and fair. It's not always easy. 

What happens when you read outside of your preferred genre? Do you review the book anyway? Do you remove your personal preferences from the review and remain fair to the book and genre? Do you like seeing reviews, no matter how negative, from a reviewer who doesn't like the genre in which they're reviewing?

A lot of questions I often ask myself, but what do you think? How do you handle writing a review for a book in a genre you prefer not read?


  1. This is a really good post! Personally I only prefer to read books that interest me. My preferred genre is romance but I am not opposed to reading other genres--as long as the book sounds interesting to me. If the book does not appeal to me I kindly explain that where it is not a genre I am familair with I don't think I could give it a fair and honest review. I am by no means a professional reviewer so this next part is just my opinion. I feel that anyone who agrees to review a book should know about the genre the are reading. And authors requesting reviews should be contacting the proper reviewers. I think that's really the only way to give/receive honest reviews.

  2. I completely agree with this Kimberly!--"I feel that anyone who agrees to review a book should know about the genre the are reading. And authors requesting reviews should be contacting the proper reviewers."

  3. My genre is Mystery but I read and review other genres when asked (and if I have the time, of course.) There is always some part of the novel that I can focus on, plus comment about the writing style, venue, character development, etc.
    Sometimes I accidentally come across a novel totally out of my genre that I feel compelled to review. Case in point is a novel set in my hometown (a very small town in Wisconsin.)
    Kimberly and MK, I read your comments and understand what you are saying. Authors want their reviewers to understand the format or formula of their genre so they can benefit from a constructive review.

  4. Gail -- thank you for stopping by. You make some good points. I also feel compelled to review a book outside of my preferred genres, but I always have that question in my mind about whether or not my dislike for a genre prevented me from truly giving an objective review. Now I'm careful about the genres I review, but that doesn't always stop me from reading them. I've come to the point where if an author genuinely wants me to read a book, and I know I don't care for the genre, I warn them ahead of time. Some pull out from the review, but a few have liked that I would give them an opinion from a different viewpoint. Still, I always worry that I'm not being as fair as the book deserves.