Being a part of the reason we are getting stupider seems to be a main goal for Goodreads. Normally, I am all about power going to the people, but I mean that politically. I don’t want, and I assume you also don’t want, “the people” doing surgery, flying planes, designing skyscrapers, and reviewing books, simply because “the people” are on the whole not qualified to do these things. Go through Goodreads and read the comments. It’s like a vast sea of gamified stupidity. It’s like a quantity-over-quality convention attended by the sorts of people who come to conventions with a giant bag just to pick up free swag. Anyway, BookRiot looks at reasons why a book will get a bad review on Goodreads, no matter how good the book actually is. And the list is pretty spot-on.
I know Goodreads. Main characters are not allowed to cheat, especially not on an innocent party. Especially if the story isn’t about them repenting and being endlessly punished for it. Any time a protagonist acts in an unethical way, you will be able to find negative reviews of the book — but find me one person who’s never acted unethically or made mistakes in their life. (Also, act too saintly and you’ll get negative reviews for being unrealistic!) Personally, I love messy characters who make mistakes and try to work through them. They’re more interesting. “Unlikable” female characters are my bread and butter, but they tend to be torn apart in Goodreads reviews. I just want to read about amoral women sick of putting up with bullshit tearing down this messed-up world — is that too much to ask?
This got me thinking about all the ways books can rack up bad reviews/star ratings regardless of the quality of the book, so I brainstormed with other Book Rioters, and here are the other things we’ve noticed will always result in some bad Goodreads reviews, no matter how well it’s handled.