As a book reviewer, I tend to read a lot of reviews as well. I like to see what is helpful, what is not helpful and I try to hone my reviews as well.
I was reading some 1 star and 2 star reviews on a book by an author that I know and respect, and it was interesting to me as you could see a difference.
There were some of the reviews that were very helpful, they explained the things they liked and disliked, without attacking the author’s moral code, spirituality, and her person.
They still disliked the book and would not recommend it, but it was done in a very helpful way, so that a reader could be discerning if the book was one for them or not.
Then there were the myriad of others. You knew from the title, the book was not one they enjoyed, but instead of talking about why they didn’t enjoy it in helpful terms, they attacked the author. There were cutting words that if you truly believed you were offended on the basis of Christianity, it called for following Matt. 18, not trashing a person in a public arena.
I actually encourage people to leave lower reviews as I believe they are helpful in deciding if a book is right for us or not. But I never, ever find it helpful to read reviews that attack, cut and leave someone feeling hopeless. That doesn’t help anyone. If you are truly saddened by the author, write her/him privately. Give them a chance to respond. Authors are encouraged to never respond to poor reviews. It just doesn’t look good. So, there is nothing that would apply to Matt 18 here. If you use bible verses to condemn what an author put in her book in warning, but refusing to contact them personally first, but claiming Christianity as a reason, you lost the whole meaning.
We are responsible for our words, both online and off line. Writing an opinion in an review, while it might be my opinion, does not make it any less kind than if I had an opinion about the neighbors clothing choices. I am free to have that opinion. Should I post online about it under the guise of the name of Christ?
I will underline this with the fact that there is a time to put warnings online about those that are not responsive, but still in a Christlike manner. That doesn’t always mean gentle. But divisive and mean, is never helpful.
“Let your words be seasoned with salt..” and I could finish that by saying “when posting online, and book reviews as well.”
It doesn’t witness to anyone to see the cruel words that are spoken in the name of reviews, and in the name of Christ on Amazon or elsewhere.
Think before you type. Think before you speak. Think before you you write a review. “What will help other readers hear what I feel about this book?” If you don’t like the book, “What will help other readers determine if this is the book for them, without cutting down the author to pea sized mush in the process?” and finally, “If I feel this book was beyond what I felt were Christian standards (if it is a Christian book), how biblically should I address that issue? Is it something I should go to the person about?”