Lately I have been reading a lot more book reviews and I have found a lot of them really frustrating! I wrote a post recently about writing reviews but that concentrated on what other people like rather than what I like, so that is the purpose of this post!
In my other post I said I wasn’t sure if people want all opinion in the actual review or some more recap of the story as well. However, it seems quite a lot of people don’t give an opinion at all in their reviews, they just go over the plot. Yes that can be helpful but is it really right to call that a review? Sometimes there is a bit more of a discussion of the themes of the book rather than just the story but often the reviewer still doesn’t really give an opinion. Saying a book “explores an important topic” isn’t the same as saying “it was well written, I particularly liked…” I don’t need the entire plot from reviewers, that’s what the book is for, I read book reviews because I want to know the opinion of the reviewer, so why aren’t reviewers actually giving opinions? I want to know what they think!
Another issue I have is with ratings. Pros and cons of ratings, with stars etc, have been discussed recently in a bookish Facebook group I am a member of. The main concern seems to be that some of those that actually do give opinions in their reviews don’t match the star ratings accordingly. For example someone will give two stars but write a glowing review, or more often will give four or five stars and give a terrible written review. So there are opinions, but they contradict each other. Another problem that comes up is people giving low ratings, mostly on Amazon, for nonsense reasons such as packaging when the book was delivered, or stated that they hadn’t even read the book. It seems a lot of people don’t like ratings at all as a result.
Personally I like ratings, I want to know quickly if the general consensus is that a book is good or bad. However, a lot of bloggers seem to use no rating system at all. A lot of these reviews are very long, so from the perspective of reading a review it is nice to get a really quick indication of how someone feels about a book. Am I the only one that feels this way? Most of the reviews I have been reading are on blogs, and not from the more general public, I would assume that those interested enough in books to blog about them wouldn’t fall into the mismatching ratings and review group so I would have expected some kind of rating.
How do you guys feel about this? What do you want from a review and what do you do when you write reviews?