Brought to you by OBS reviewer Valerie
A REFLECTION ON BOOK REVIEWS
If you’ve ever gone on a book reviewing website, such as Goodreads, chances are you’ve come across at least one scathing review of a novel. If you haven’t, please try to avoid them. However, if you need an idea of exactly what I mean, look at some reviews of Twilight. I admit that those reviews are truly pretty funny, but they rely on tearing books apart in order to make people laugh.
Yes, I’ve written more than my fair share of mean reviews, and I regret it. I think the internet is a key factor in this; it distances a reader from an author. The internet gives every person a new identity, so it’s much easier to be harsh. And the instant gratification one gets from posting such a review also adds to the temptations of writing such reviews.
Authors are people too. It’s easy to forget that, especially when you’re staring at a computer screen, thinking about how terrible the book you’ve just read is. Yet, in reality, it probably isn’t THAT bad of a book. And if it seems like it is, no person deserves to have such hatred written about their story. It just doesn’t work like that.
At the same time, reviews are the only for a reader to his or her opinion about a novel. Reviews are crucial, not just for the people deciding whether to read a novel, but also to the authors. Reviews with constructive criticism help authors improve at their craft. Reviews that praise make an author smile. But searching for them is pointless, especially when there are reviews that basically hate on an author out there. Although I personally have been writing fewer reviews these days, I think that reviews are perhaps more important than the book itself.
It’s possible to write a review that offers constructive criticism without insulting the author. In fact, these reviews are the most valuable. There’s a reason why critics such as Roger Ebert have been looked up to. Roger Ebert had the ability to talk about a movie’s weaknesses, while not entirely trashing the movie. He made his reviews popular not through putting a movie down, but through turning his reviews into an art of their own.
It’s that type of style that book reviewers should shoot for. After all, reviews shouldn’t be a platform for loathing books. Book reviews in themselves are art, but they should be art that show appreciation for novels themselves.