Not this year! This year, I put on my creativity hat and decided to do "book review" for my "B."
Whether they come from a friend ("OMG you have to read this!" or "This was the most boring thing ever.") or the New York Times, they can affect whether or not you want to read a book. Because of the very nature of a review, they're not objective, but a reviewer can and should do their best to provide a well-rounded idea of how they thought the book was.
|Because more energy is just what he needs...|
What should be discussed in a review? If I'm browsing through Amazon for something to read, I always appreciate it when reviewers mention several things.
Plot: Was it fleshed out and detailed? Was the story slower than molasses, or did it move so quickly and jump around so much it could be mistaken for a toddler given an espresso shot and a free puppy?
Characterization: Could the reader identify with the characters at all, even if they had nothing in common with them? Were they stereotyped? Were they boring, flat templates?
Personal taste: Yeah, even though I appreciate an objective review, I want to know whether the reviewer personally liked the story. Sometimes hearing that something just turned the reader off, or that they liked the story up until a certain point is helpful in making the decision to read something. On the other hand, it's unhelpful when reviewers are too vague about this. Just saying that you didn't like how the book ended isn't helpful; say in your review how you wished you'd heard more about how Character A's life turned out, or what happened to Character B.
Also, balance the positive and negative. Even if a review is mostly negative, make sure to add whether there was anything redeeming about the book, even if you just liked the cover art.
Reviews can also help a book get more promotion. I'm not positive, but I've heard from several authors that once a book gets 50 Amazon reviews, Amazon promotes it more. But don't quote me on that. Either way, 50 Amazon reviews is pretty awesome, and authors love knowing that readers enjoyed their work.
Let me also say that I don't have anything published (yet) for anyone to review, but I certainly hope that people will take the time to do so when I do. It's hugely helpful for the author, whether the review was positive or not.
I'm sure I've forgotten some things, but these are some points I look for in a good book review. What do you look for?