One of the most injurious words in reviews is “but.”
The characters are wonderful, but –
The story is gripping, but –
The visuals are cinematic, but –
See, here is what the word “but” does in any sentence: It negates any positive statement coming before it. For example:
You look lovely in that dress, BUT, it makes you look fat.
Is that a positive statement about how someone looks in that dress?
Don’t temper positive comments in reviews of a writer’s work with “but.” It’s a crappy way of reviewing. It negates any positive statement. And pretty much makes the entire review negative.
You want to say something positive? Say something positive. Don’t negate it with a “but it actually sucks” comment that negates anything good that has come before and pretend you actually just said something positive and encouraging.
*Spell out what is good. Save what might be problematic for a later paragraph. Hopefully, a lot later.