Getting Your Review On

book-reviewI’ve always wondered about how people review books. From The Guardian and The New York Times to Amazon and Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon but has separate reviews from it) reviews of novels are prevalent.

How do people go about rating a book or writing a review of it? I’ve seen reviews that are thorough and go through both the positives and negatives of novels, reviews that are no more than giant rants or superfluous praise, and reviews that are either so skeletal that they provide nothing constructive or have nothing to do with the novel.

When I review books, I find that I have two parts of myself: the writer half and the reader half. The writer half is a harsh critic. It nitpicks, deconstructing the novel and examining it on a more academic level. Is the writing good? Are there plot holes? Are the characters flat, stereotypical, believable, etc.? Is there sentence variety, correct punctuation and spelling, metaphors?

The writer half of me will rant about books that are poorly written and go off on tangents about how books like such and such should have never been published because they are everything agents and editors say they don’t want.

However, the reader half of me will look at those same books and love them. Because although they may be stereotypical, have poor world building, have characters you want to smack for either their (1) lack of intelligent decision making skills, (2) jerk behavior, or (3) some combination of (1) and (2), and are overall horribly written, I still get pulled into the story. I find myself laughing or rooting for the characters. I want to know what happens next.

pile-of-booksIf I didn’t have these two parts of myself, my reviews would be quite different. If only the writer half existed, I would have a lot more one and two star reviews (one being absolutely atrocious and five being one of the best books I’ve ever read). If only the reader half was there, I’d have a ton of five star reviews. The writer and reader parts of myself balance each other out. I have very few five star reviews and even fewer one star reviews. The vast majority of my reviews are either three or four stars, and then I get into the meat of why I’ve rated a book what I’ve rated it.

How do you go about reviewing books? You don’t have to place your reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, or other review sites to appraise a book. Every novel you read you form an opinion about. How do you mold the opinion you have?

(Photo courtesy of inkspand and pinterest.)

6 thoughts on “Getting Your Review On

  1. eclecticalli

    I’m just starting to get into writing Reviews, and it is definitely a balance of those sides. I’ve never been good at summarizing plots (my own or others), so I end up focusing on sharing about readability (how well did it hold my attention on my commute? Did I reach points where I really could not put it down?), character development and relate-ability, and plot progression.

    1. brittanyekrueger Post author

      I think readability is a better aspect to focus on than summary. I’ve seen a fair number of reviews that spend too long summarizing the novel. I’ve always been more interested in what people thought of the novel they just read.

  2. Ellen Smith

    My reviews tend to be on the shorter side- I usually focus on what stood out to me about a book or why someone might want to pick it up. Usually something like, “This concept was so original, it made me see this genre in a different light!” so somebody else who doesn’t typically read that genre will know that this is something really fresh and different. Or I’ll say whether it was a light, fun read or a thought-provoking book I couldn’t put down.

    I have noticed that lately, I tend to leave only 4 or 5 star reviews- only because I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t finish the book if it’s not holding my attention. I have a sincere fear that I might not read all the books on my TBR list in my lifetime. If a book isn’t doing it for me, I just put it down and move on to the next one! 🙂

    1. brittanyekrueger Post author

      I know! My TBR list keeps getting longer and longer! Even if I don’t finish a novel, I still tend to write a review for it or, at the very least, I’ll rate it, especially if I get past the halfway point. I think it’s important for other readers to know that I didn’t enjoy a novel enough to finish it.

  3. painterwrite

    Like you, I tend to do the Writer Nitpicking when it comes to reading, but if the flubs aren’t bad enough to make me put the book down, I continue on with my Reader mindset. Basically, if a book can keep a story going at a good pace and the characters aren’t cardboard cutouts, the author earns a decent handful of stars from me.

    1. brittanyekrueger Post author

      Yeah, it’s rare that I give one or two star reviews. It used to be that I felt compelled to finish every book I started. Lately, that’s not been the case, and those books I don’t finish are usually the novels that receive low ratings.


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