Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Do Food and Reviews Have in Common?

We don't want anything spoiled.
We won't eat anything that is spoiled.
Why would we buy and read a book where the mystery inside has already been spoiled by a review?

Reviewers - spoilers are to be avoided at all costs.

I've said it before (HERE) and it needs saying again.

A spoiler is a published piece of information that divulges a surprise, such as a plot twist in a book. Sometimes it's even a bit of narrative telling a reader in greater detail what goes on in the story - something a reader should have learned BY reading the book itself, not in a review.

That being said. I'd like to illustrate my point by directing your attention to two reviews. Yes, one of them is mine, but the first one really got my attention and inspired this post.

Link #1 for The Witch and The Wolf

Have you read it? Good. Here's the thing. The site provided the blurb.
That's good. It's what came after that had my eyebrows raising into my hairline. The blurb hints at what Lillian is running from. HINTS! Obviously, the author expects a reader to buy the book and find out the specific details.

Notice how the review reveals all the components - the who of it and the why of it. I don't agree with that at all.

I'm not going to pick on the few typographical errors - that happens.
It's the spoilers that were revealed that truly annoyed me. Even the last sentence mentions a negative when a review should end on a positive tone.

Here's Link #2 for The Witch and The Wolf.

Please compare the two. Does the second give enough to entice a reader without falling into Spoilers? Do you see any retelling of the story leaving a reader with no surprises? Do you see more about how the book affected me and my thoughts versus telling a reader about the story itself?

A review is not telling or re-telling about what you read in the book. It's about sharing what you observed and how it made you feel - what worked for you, what you liked or didn't and what were the author's strong or weak points in her/his writing.

Whereas the first review was verbose in the revealing - I only inferred:

The external conflict explodes onto the scene in a flurry of pomposity and effective annoyance. By that I mean the author did a great job in giving me the willies. I really didn’t like those disgusting villainous and highly inappropriate men and Ms. Schneider did a great job of insuring my distaste.
I've had my say. I've given you two reviews of the same book. Now I'd like to know your opinion. As a reader and/or reviewer, which is more professional and/or respectful? Which is more of a draw? What are the weak points that you see in either review? What do you consider the strong points?

It doesn't matter that the second one is mine. I'm not perfect but I surely can strive for that goal. If you are reading this, then I'm guessing you want the same as me, to write well written reviews.

And please, no spoilers. They are as bad as an all synopsis review.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. Your blog has really helped me refine my reviewing technique. I follow several authors and have noticed their comments on reviews. Recently one said "...why don't they just post a book report and call it a review....and you wonder why I'm going crazy!" That kind of says it all. Keep up the good work, you've got a new fan.

Xeranthemum said...

Thank YOU, Anonymous, for stopping by and letting me know that I'm on the right track. I wish the author that had that unfortunate experience would see this blog and know that there IS hope out there.

And good luck with your reviewing. If there is ever anything you'd like discussed or explored here, just drop me a note.
All the best to you!

Nancy G said...

I have some good friends who review and are always asking for advice or just wondering if they are doing it right-I have been recommending your blog, because you always deal with important reviewing issues in an honest and timely manner. Thanks.