Today I’m taking part in Reading Romances’ “Review Blog Hop”, inviting book bloggers to talk about what they look for in a review. I’ve decided to talk about book reviews specifically because what I’m looking for in these can vary considerably from what I’d look for in a music, game or film review. I don’t want to keep you here all day discussing every one! I’m also focusing more on reviews on blogs – read on to find out why…
What Do You Look for in a Book Review?
I know there is a lot of debate about what makes a good review. Some people feel it should strip down all aspects of the book: everything from plot, characters, grammar, structure, length, cover, formatting. Others feel a review should just be a quick, easy to read summary – after all, we’re all busy!
For me, I think that both styles of review are valid. What I’m looking for in a good review is one thing: an honest response. Ideally I like to see a quick summary of the book. I don’t need a blow by blow account but I like to see how the reviewer would summarise the book: an honest response. Blurbs are great but a blurb is effectively a mini-sales pitch. Did the sheen come off when the reviewer delved in? Or did it live up to the hype?
Although I believe that editing and formatting are hugely important, I tend to only talk about these things myself if they actually made it difficult for me to read a book. A typo here or there or a page break in the wrong place? I can live with those. Mistakes happen. It’s a rare book that has nothing wrong with it, so if it seems to me that care has been taken overall, I’m usually happy. So I’m on the fence about whether or not a good review needs to discuss those aspects if the problems are minor.
Beyond the summary of the book as the reviewer sees it, what I really really want to see is whether or not it made the reviewer feel something. Did they laugh? Cry? Feel anger or frustration? Did it make them desperate to get in a few more pages at every opportunity or was it hard to pick up again once they’d put it down?
Why do I want to know these things? After all, we are all so different. We all have different responses to books. Their reaction is surely no indication of my own potential response. No… but then again, if I just want a break down of a book, I may as well stick with the blurb. Instead, I find reviews – certainly on blogs – interesting, entertaining and feel they offer great insight into the reader. I want to know about the reader, as much as the book. If a book has elicited a reaction – be it good or bad – that will get me intrigued. Intrigued about the book. Intrigued about the blog. Intrigued about the blogger.
A good review creates as many questions as it answered. That alone will be the biggest incentive to me to find out more…