Include Genres in your Reviews Please!

I feel like I’ve talked about this before, and I also feel like a bunch of people are going to criticize me for being a genre snob, but I’m writing this anyway. Because enough is enough people!

I should be able to tell when I am reading a review of your book what genre it is! Do NOT assume people can tell from the description, because in 2019 it’s not always obvious.

How many times did I go from blogger to blogger asking whether The Hating Game was romance or chick-lit? Because goodreads sure as heck isn’t clear, and none of the reviews I read came straight out and called it a “Romance” novel. Even when I asked, I couldn’t get a good answer. “Why does it matter Katie?” Because I don’t like sex scenes! I like romantic comedies, but I don’t want to read graphic depictions of sex. I’ve read a couple of romance novels now, and they’re not bad, they just aren’t for me.

YA is the worst, because so many YA bloggers just assume their readers know that they only blog about YA. But unless your blogs title has the words YA or Young Adult in the title, I can’t remember what genre you blog about! “Again, so what?” Well, y’all, I get burned out of YA suuuuuuuper fast, so I like to pace myself and not read too many in a row. Which I can’t do if I don’t know the book is YA.

And I get it, genres blend together, and there aren’t always hard and fast distinctions. I know! But as someone with a clear idea of what I like and what I don’t, knowing the genre of a book helps me to determine ahead of time whether I’m going to enjoy something. It also puts my expectations in the right place, because sometimes when a book is completely different from what I expected it to be, I can’t move past how surprised I am and just enjoy it.

So what pushed me over the edge onto a rant this time? Red White & Royal Blue. With so many people who are usually YA bloggers reading it, a cutesy cover, and the ages of the protagonists, I just ASSUMED it was a YA book. And nobody’s reviews really led me to believe otherwise. Then I picked it up from the library and it had this giant ROMANCE sticker on the spine, but by then it was too late. I’d already waited in line a few months, and I figured I’d better give it a try.

I didn’t hate the book. If you read my review last week, you might remember that I quite enjoyed it. But guys, I don’t want to read romance novels.

More importantly, teenagers reading your posts who might not be ready for that kind of content deserve to know before they pick up the book. I remember when I was in ninth grade buying Wicked because I loved the musical so much, and not being even a little ready for that book. I’d never even had my first kiss, and here I was reading about bestiality and graphic puppet sex. Maybe you were ready for that when you were fifteen, but I wasn’t. And there are plenty of teenagers out there who aren’t.

If we’re going to push to be explicit about trigger warnings and possibly disturbing content, we need to be equally ready to indicate genre. Readers know that thrillers are likely to have violence and gore, romance is going to have sex, and horror is going to scare the pants off you. By making readers aware of the genre they can prepare themselves for content, or avoid the book altogether if that’s what they prefer. But readers deserve to know.

End rant.

34 thoughts on “Include Genres in your Reviews Please!

  1. For some I am usually able to make out that it is a thriller. Romance or chick lit I rarely read. YA NA or any other genre makes no difference to me as long as the story is good.
    But writing the genre would make it easy. My reviews have broad genre categories.. Not detailed one

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It might not make a difference to you if it’s YA or NA, but to people reading your blog that’s a big difference. Especially since NA has such adult content that YA readers might not be ready for. Just a thought.


          1. I personally don’t like if a YA fantasy has sex. I want thrill and excitement not lovemaking scenes uufgghhh. So far I have been lucky that most of these books have slight scenes, nothing graphic.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for the explanation! Although it sounds a bit ridiculous to get so detailed in genre! As a kid and teenager I read whatever seemed interesting, regardless of labels. Whether the protagonists were younger, older, or my own age didn’t matter too much. I do think genre labels in publishing need a major overhaul!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. YA is 100% a marketing scheme. Don’t even get me started. I went off on my husband a few weeks ago about how publishers pandering to what they think kids want, instead of allowing them to explore a wide-variety of literature, has created a generation of readers who can ONLY read fast-paced nail-biters. I read more YA now than I did when I was a kid, although I think that speaks more to how the genre has grown than about my reading preferences. The thing I like about the genre, is in “adult” literature these days there is so much R-rated content (especially language), and in YA kids can usually be sure about what they’re going to get.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. That’s a good point. Because of the way I choose books (recommendations + reputation + research), I usually end up with books that I like that don’t have so much objectionable content. It’s always disappointing when I find it.

            We can’t change the marketers unless we’re in the industry, but I suppose we can exercise what influence we have for the good of all readers!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s definitely needed — so many times I have followed links to someone’s book blog only to realize they only blog about romance or young-adult. As soon as I realize that, I check out. On my own blog, I try to be pretty clear about what to expect in every aspect of the site’s design, although it’s hard for me to tell how someone totally new to it sees it. “Reviews and other discussions about fantasy, science fiction, and every sort of adventure story” seems to describe my content pretty well, although sometimes I write about some other type of classic novel, or about something religious. Everything I put on my blog, though, has a clear connection in my head to my blog’s purpose and theme. I’m even considering writing about a nature book about wolves that I am reading, because the information and insights it has reveal so much about what I love about fantasy and adventure stories that deal with nature and animals.

    Tangentially, I find it disgusting that the “romance” genre seems to necessitate sex scenes, and be what I would call erotica instead. There’s no reason why a story about romantic love need include sex scenes at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems to be on a spectrum to me. At one end in “Chick Lit”, which is often romantic comedies and tend to be pretty PG-13, though often with language. On the other end is erotica, which is mostly about sex, and any romance involved is bonus. To me the romance genre is in between, where it is *about* love, but there is also sex involved. It’s not typically the entire book like erotica, but rather a few steamy chapters. But the lines are definitely blurry between the three, which annoys me because it makes it hard to find a good romantic book that I’m going to actually enjoy.

      My blog has no theme. It’s just BOOKS. lol. But that’s why I always try to be extra obvious about what kind of book I’m reading, because I know not everybody likes every kind of book.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oops, I think I’m guilty of this! I think I only mention genre if the book doesn’t hit the tropes/subverts it and I need to rant about it. Otherwise, it’s only in the tags. I agree that it is more helpful to have it – I’ll have to be more careful about making sure the genre is clear!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is something I’ve always struggled to remember to do (just like I forget to put a brief synopsis sometimes)- but I have been trying more, cos I hear you about how important it is to let other readers know if something is YA/adult/has steamy scenes etc. I have seen a few people saying about red white and royal blue saying there’s a lot of sex- but not enough- so I can see a lot of people assuming it’s YA/not knowing it’s got a lot of sex (and you’re not the first blogger I’ve seen saying they didn’t know it was adult romance). The one caveat I do have is that I’d prefer to have such warnings/genre specifications in the text of the review, mostly cos genre labels mean different things to different people, so to me it’s better to explain the content (eg for a lot of people romance doesn’t automatically mean it has sex scenes/people might use the term erotica when it’s more romance with sex scenes) Basically I think people should just be more explicit in reviews about who it’s for. Sorry you had this experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Meh, I’m not upset, I just feel like as a group we could do better? A lot of people mention that it isn’t important to them, so they’re not worried about including it. But to other people it is a big deal. I don’t know, it’s not a hill I’m going to die on or anything, just personal preference.


      1. Yeah I think that makes perfect sense. It isn’t something that bothers me, but it’s always something I try to point out, cos I know a lot of people are bothered by it (& other reviewers might not mention it). And I’m trying to get better, cos I have had complaints about not having synopses (having said that, it’s my hobby, not my job, so… 😂)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Dude, if you’re interested in the book, go read a synopsis on goodreads, not badger the blogger for not including it! *eyeroll* Genre, on the other hand, isn’t always accurate on goodreads/amazon, so I do rely on bloggers to share.


  5. Huh. I think I usually talk about genre in line one, but now I’m not sure! The thing is, I usually genre-tize my books differently than most people. Like an Urban Fantasy with a Romance usually I label as Romance first and fantasy second, assuming the point of the book is the romance…

    And there’s the Stephen King Mr. Mercedes business in which he and his constant readers insist it’s a thriller and I’m over here insisting it’s still horror… ugh. So even if I’m saying it it’s probably not entirely accurate according to the standards of the wider world…

    Either way- noted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I sometimes have a hard time figuring out what genre to put certain books in. Like, 11/22/63 by Stephen King. SciFi? Fantasy? Historical Fiction? Sometimes when I’m not sure I just throw all the labels in, and then in the text of the review I try to clarify what and why.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. This is something one of my podcasts discusses at length, and they have agreed that it depends on WHY it’s a dystopia. If it’s a dystopia because mankind nuked each other to death, probably SciFi. If it’s a dystopia because magic came and wiped everything out, probably Fantasy. So I think dystopia can go either way, it just depends on the mechanics of the story. Same with time travel.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. THIS IS SUCH A GOOD POST!! ❤ I agree with every word you said here! I mention in my blog's slogan that I review Young Adult novels, but if I do read the occasional Middle Grade, I'll label it in the review. I don't really read Adult books lol. A reason why I stick to YA romance, is because I personally don't feel comfortable reading graphic sex scenes either. And, I know so many teenagers out there who aren't comfortable or ready to read such content either. It's incredibly important for publishers, reviewers, and others to label books to their appropriate genres, to avoid the very issues you mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you agree! My husband and I had a long talk a few nights ago about “aren’t ready” for sex or sexual content. He didn’t understand what that meant, and I didn’t have a good way to explain it to him, other than that when I was 15 I wasn’t. I think some adults (including authors) can forget what that was like, or maybe never experienced it and so have a hard time reminding themselves that’s where some kids are.

      Liked by 1 person

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