When I review a book, I like to keep in mind that a human wrote the book. It sounds obvious but I have read many reviews where the author is criticised inhumanly.
Disclaimer: I am another hobbyist blogger, which means I don’t get paid to review books or blog. All opinions are my own.
Everybody knows that reviews are biased according to the reader’s preferences. When I am criticising a book based on its plot, I am not talking about the author. Neither do I think my review matters. It’s not complicated to understand that everyone has very different tastes and opinions, so what I find distasteful isn’t necessarily the same for another.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a very popular science fiction standalone novel. While I did enjoy many aspects of the plot, I can’t say it was perfect. I thought Sarkan’s dialogues were repetitive and the portrayal of Agnieszka as immensely flawed was almost forced. Kasiya’s individuality declined with every page. (Spoiler alert) The relationship between Sarkan and Agnieszka felt unnecessary beyond words. It seemed like it was simply there to appeal to romance readers.
But it was very close to being the winner of BEST YOUNG ADULT FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION category in goodreads for 2015. That must mean I am of the minority with a somewhat ‘negative’ opinion. My point of sharing these thoughts aren’t to say that the author is awful. She isn’t. The book was written well, although it was quite clear that Ms. Novik fell in love with the word rivulet. Which I completely understand, sometimes when I fall in love with a word, I irritate the shi* out of my sister by repeating it continuously.
Reviews are like passing down information through a lineage of readers to help them make decisions. One will come across positive reviews and negative reviews and eventually a decision of their own. It also arises from a desire to share our thoughts and opinions. Why does this desire arise? That I can’t answer.
When I am criticising the way a book is written, it is not to say that I am better at writing or the author is incompetent. Usually, it is the Editor’s job to ensure that the book is flawless. At least, in terms of spelling and grammar.
Looking for Alaska by John Green is a book with over seven hundred thousand reviews in goodreads. A majority of which is five stars. I disliked it. Alaska seemed flat, though she was a ‘smart feminist.’ But that’s not why I disliked the book. I was really looking forward to reading the book. Mostly because I loved the cover of it. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. But this was almost three years ago.
I found that the writing both bored and irked me. It seemed trying too hard/lacking in flow. I liked the philosophical discussions it had but it just didn’t appeal to me. This is not me saying he is an awful writer. On the contrary, a majority of people did love it. I share my disappointment to inform another reader of the flip side of the reviews.
Reviews are important because they help to spread the word. Although, one shouldn’t take a review personally. Usually, my book reviews are positive. When I appreciate something, I want to share that piece of treasure with my fellow readers who might stumble across my blog. When it is disappointing, I also want to inform my fellow readers before they come to a decision.
It is the art of being a human who reads, you see. Not to be taken at heart.