Should You Review A Book You Haven’t Read?

Today’s post concerns a growing trend I’ve noticed lately on Amazon, people reviewing books they haven’t read.

I’ve seen comments by reviewers who openly state they didn’t read the book, and others who state they merely flipped through the pages, and others who state they only read a few pages and then quit.

What do you think about this practice? Is it fair to the author? Is it fair to the potential buyer of a book who is checking reviews to see if they want to purchase?

18 thoughts on “Should You Review A Book You Haven’t Read?

  1. Christi, I don’t like tht trend at all. Also, the amazing numbers of people who leave five stars for their friends never having read the book. Both ways we hurt the writer and the potential reader because they don’t get an honest assessment of the contents of the book.

    • Florence,

      What a great point!

      I hadn’t even thought of the ones who put a review of five stars. When I wrote this, I was only thinking of the ones who take the opportunity to trash the author and the book and give it one star. I agree, both ways are deceptive and hurt both the author, and potential buyer.

      You’ve made an excellent flip side point here, thanks so much for your comment.


  2. It’s impossible to review a book if it hasn’t been read completely. How does one know if characters stay true to form, or if the plot works or if the ending makes sense? How do they know if they’ll enjoy the whole thing?

    I’m reading a thick fantasy novel which I thoroughly enjoyed until about 3/4 of the way through. Then the main character turned into someone I no longer liked or respected. I woudn’t recommend the book to anyone. I would not have known that from reading the first two hundred pages.

    It is not fair to the author or the potential reader. At least the so-called reviewers state that they were too lazy to read the book. It’s another good example of our times where quantity is valued more than quality.

    • Diane,

      While I was poking around Amazon while thinking of this post, I was amazed at the amount of reviewers that not only admited they only flipped through the book, but seemed proud of that fact. It was like they were saying, “I only flipped through a few pages and it’s the book’s fault I didn’t get interested enough to actually read it.” and then they give a bad review.

      I’m so happy to see I’m not the only one finding this trend maddening!

      Thanks so much for your visit and comment,


  3. Thank you for mentioning this!!! It drives me crazy! The tendency for people to spout off about things on the internet just because they can seems dangerous to me. And I can’t stand looking at something because of all the stars it has only to read the reviews and see that the “readers” weren’t actually reading at all…

    • Wendy,

      You mentioned the trend of people spouting off on the internet and now I must confess… I checked out the Kris Kardashian book (the recent one written by the mom-a-ger of the group) just because I was curious as to what type of book she’d written.

      I was first shocked that given all the massive television interviews she’d done recently that she’d only gotten a total of 54 reviews, and then I noticed that 28 of those were only one star.

      So, then I read some of the one star reviews and was startled to see the sheer amount of negativity displayed. There were reviewers trashing the family and stating how they would never buy the book. SO, they openly admitted to never having even seen the book, yet gave it a one star review, and then encouraged others to boycott the book too!

      Then I checked out the 13 five star reviews and found several of them had never reviewed a book before this one (which is suspicious but fine). But then, I noticed a few of those reviews had comments in which the reviewer was brutally attacked on a personal level, and accused of being a member of Kris’ family.

      Horrific behavior all the way around.

      Wendy, thank you for your insightful comment. I really appreciate your support!


  4. This is a ridiculous practice. How can someone purport to have reviewed something they have not read in its entirety. Let’s put things into perspective shall we…hypothetically, you are looking for a new kitchen appliance, for the sake of this article we will say it is a cooker. You read a sparkling review, which is then followed by, “but I only tried the grill, I didn’t get to see the oven working” would you then go out and purchase this item? This kind of reviewing actually does more harm than good because it effectively says ” this book was not worth reading ” so ultimately gives an unfair review that affects both Author and a prospective reader.

    • Alternative,

      That is a GREAT analogy! I have young twins and always try to read reviews/comments on a variety of sites before I blow a bunch of money on a toy for them.

      I find it’s become frustrating to read people’s glowing reviews of something and then come to find out they left out a vital piece of information.

      Same goes for book reviews. If you didn’t read it, don’t review it!

      Thanks for stopping by,


  5. How do you decide a book is worth reading if half the reviews are negative, and the other half are positive?

    On Some sites you can read an excerpt, a page or two. Fortunately in my case, I live in small town, and the local bookstore (same family over 50 years) is around the corner from my house. So is the library. If the book sales are high, I buy; if medium I check the library.

    In 1968, a friend and I living in Hollywood debated seeing the new Bonny and Clyde movie. The majority of critics said it was a dog. We flipped a coin, my friend won the flip and we went to see the movie. The customers were lined up for hours. The rest is history.

    If your local bookstore says it’s a hot seller, buy two. Send me the other one.

    • Anonymous…(otherwise known as Peter :))

      I live in a small town too (a not even one stoplight kind of small town) but our library here is amazing and attracts people from several towns over. I’ve found the libarians are always helpful when it comes to suggestions and spreading the word on a new good book.

      I’ve found that movie critics are often wrong. They seem to sit up in their ivory towers and don’t have their fingers on the pulse of “regular” moviegoers, so they often miss out on a great movie.

      Thanks for the comment!


  6. This drives me crazy too. I blogged about the newest Stephen King book last week and multiple people had given it one star because of the price–they hadn’t even bought the book or looked at a page. They just didn’t like that it was expensive. That is not a review of the book.

    I think Goodreads and Amazon should have a few more options. Like on Amazon, give a separate section where people can complain about price or shipping problems or other things not having to do with book content. And I also think there should be a DNF (did not finish) option on a rating. If I don’t finish something, I don’t want to rate it one star just based on that. It may have just not been the book for me. So it’d be nice to have that DNF option and then the reviewer can explain why they didn’t finish.

  7. Roni,

    Did your jaw drop in amazement that people would actually give a review over price?! Wow, mine just did while reading your comment.

    It’s kind of like not tipping the waiter/waitress good because your food tasted like a pile of crap. It’s not the waiter/waitress’ fault the cook sucks. (Can you tell I was a waitress for several years? :))

    Complaining about price, shipping, etc… has NO PLACE in the actual review section for the book. You have a great idea about the “seperate section” where people can gripe to their hearts content, yet not hurt the book. I also really like your “DNF” concept. Reading is a subjective thing, and not everyone is going to like everything. Sometimes just being able to say “I thought this book just wasn’t for me” is better than saying “I only got halfway through and quit.”

    Thanks for visiting and I hope all is well with your writing. Love your blog!


    • Roland,

      I know you’ve published a few books, so I’m wondering what your thoughts are on those who don’t read the book, yet feel it acceptable to review it anyway?

      Thanks for visiting,


  8. Subtlekate,

    I can’t image what goes through someone’s head to leave a one star review for the author, when it’s really the company they are mad at. You should check out Roni’s comment (a few above yours) for a unique, and practical idea to fix issues that that one.

    Thanks for visiting,


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