I recently won an ARC from Goodreads. Included with the book was a sheet from the publisher (Penguin Random House), requesting me to rate & review it on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and with an email to the publisher. While I understand that the main purpose of ARCs is to generate a buzz for the book in advance of publication, there’s a problem. I don’t like the book.
While the premise is intriguing, the writing needs help. I’ve found typos, missing words, and doubled words—all of which are expected, and will be cleaned up before publication. The bigger issue is that I think the book would benefit greatly from additional in-depth editing—a bit of tightening and elimination of repeating the same internal dialogue in different ways would make it a much better read. The shape it is in now would make me put it down by page 50 (however, I’m soldiering on, since it was an ARC and I’m expected to write a review).
I never post a rating or a review of a book unless I can give it 4 or 5 stars. That’s my rule. If the book doesn’t merit that, I remove it from my Goodreads list and carry forth like I never read it. I try to be respectful and truthful in my online impressions of other authors’ work. So, what do I do in this case? Do I clench my teeth and post a positive review, lauding the premise, pacing, and plot twists and ignoring the glaring editorial refinements which could have/should have been made? Or do I post an honest review and say how I believe the book could have been better? It has received mostly favorable reviews on Goodreads, so maybe it’s just me.
Let's be clear here: you did not enter into a contractual arrangement to review this book, no matter what the cover letter said. They can ask you review it, but they can't demand it.
And the flip side of that is you are not obliged to review a book, even if they sent it to you at no cost.
Your time has value; stop you're wasting it on a book you don't like.Your opinion has value; don't devalue it trying to say something nice about a book you don't like.
The publisher sends out review copies then hopes like hell they resonate with critics (that's you.) If the book does, yay. If it doesn't, oh well, better luck next time. PRH does not have a list of people who publish bad reviews (well, ok, yes they do, but it's of reviewers farther up the circulation chain than you.)
What other people think (Goodreads) doesn't matter a whit. It's your time, and your opinion. Don't waste either.
Set that book down, and go read something you do like after 50 pages.
Do you need some suggestions? I bet we can find a couple dozen just in the comments column here.