When my pen is poised to write a book review, I think carefully about the essence of the work I am about to crit. I reflect on how it made me feel and whether or not I was sad when it ended. The story line is important to me and it should keep me turning the pages… but it is not as important as the characters. Will I remember them in years to come? Are they rounded and alive or are they cardboard cutouts? Did I learn anything from the story? How much did the setting inspire me and could I really picture where the action was happening? Did the writer draw me in, show me… or simply tell me? Who else would enjoy reading it?
I never review someone else’s work without love and respect for their process. I am touched by authenticity and writing which comes from the heart and soul. Waffle does get tedious though, so a grasp of basic writing skills should shine through too. Strong, tight sentences and clever choice of words, impress me and sometimes even make me envious! I’ve learnt to sniff at predictable adjectives and generic adverbs. Although my review is aimed at fellow readers just like me, I’d like to think I am offering the writer something too.
Perhaps the questions I keep in my radar are…Is this constructive? Is it fair? Am I about to stamp out someone’s unique voice, or am I encouraging it to grow? How would I feel if I got this review?
My bottom line is that if I cannot relate to the story at all, I do not review it. There’s probably someone else who loved it and can see what I cannot 🙂