My Elves Are Different

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Books should be judged on their merits ... the right thing to do in this circumstance is NOT REVIEW THE BOOK.

7 comments:

John D. said...

I've been comiced! Heh-heh... :)

You're focusing on the rating. Recording my impressions with a book still serves a purpose, as explained here, under "What, exactly, are you reviewing?": http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2005/05/on-reviewing-science-fiction/

Steve said...

Hi, John :)

Thanks for commenting!

First of all, I think more people will go by the star rating than will read the whole review.

Second, the star rating guide in your link says a two star book is "A mediocre book; not missing anything by passing it up."

So a low star rating can leave a serious negative impression of a book even if there are mitigating explanations in the text of the review.

The rating matters.

Your original definition of "reading experience" in the link focused on inherent qualities in a book: readability, etc.

Whereas your review is openly tinged by something extraneous to the novel: the amount of time you have available to read.

As you're not writing a reading log on a livejournal but reviewing on a major genre website I think it's terribly unfair to review and particularly star-rate when you haven't been able to do the book justice.

John D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John D. said...

>>I think more people will go by the star rating than will read the whole review.
That's a review reader not getting the whole story. Nothing I can do about that.

When I wrote the definitions for the star ratings, I was concentrating on the book impression part of the reading experience, not the reading experience itself. So yes, that's an incomplete definition. [Added: Think of 2 stars as a mediocre reading experience.]

I love the phrase "openly tinged", as it at least credits that I'm being honest with the review. (Unlike your Twitter post-shots! :)) But not reviewing it at all seems like the wrong thing to do. The book does have its merits, which I recognize and want to share.

Much of your feedback seems to circle around the fact that there's a star rating attached to the review. Does it feel more palatable if you simply ignore it?

Steve said...

You're right - you were open about the factors influencing your reading experience, so I guess my issue is particularly the star rating.

Regardless of the meaning you give star ratings, drive-by readers will interpret them in the usual way as referring to intrinsic properties of a book.

If it were clearly a personal blog it wouldn't matter, but as a major genre website it's unfair.

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