Authors and publishers want good reviews because good reviews promote sales. Readers want honest reviews because they are looking for the next book to buy. The reader is your audience. As a reviewer it is your job to serve them, not the author and not the publisher, and, in all fairness, not yourself. The reader seeks your guidance. They want to resolve the uncertainty that they feel with their mouse hovering over the “buy” button. They wonder: is this book worth my time and effort and attention? They ask: “Is this a book that is worth reading?” and “Is the experience of reading this book something I will enjoy?” The role of the review, and the task before the reviewer, is to answer those questions. Continue reading →
A world of magic and furries. A desperate gay boy, a straight sadist. Who is the victim? This is The Goat, by Bill Kieffer. Extraordinarily well written. A piece of insightful fantasy. I haven’t seen the heart and mind of a sadist portrayed this well in some time, and the twist ending? Just magnificent! The Goat is a walk at night through unfamiliar lands, a 3 AM stroll down a dark and silent alley. Prepare yourself to partake in something you never imagined. You’ll come away… changed. Continue reading →
In a perfect world, every aspiring novelist would start their career as a reviewer. I wish I had. It would have been much easier to learn the craft that way. Reviewing books is much like writing because it is writing. It requires the same skills your favorite authors employ. You have many of these skills already, but those skills will grow. Your skills will develop and you’ll add more skills to your list because all writers develop. You will become a better writer with each review you write. You’ll learn to craft better sentences, you’ll learn to view a story as whole rather than as a series of events, and you’ll learn to recognize the difference between theme and plot. That’s something not everyone manages to do, but you will. It will take time. Don’t rush. Be patient. Give yourself a chance. Continue reading →
I’m a huge fan of YA but not a huge fan of sci-fi, but when Jonah Bergan is the writer, I’ll read it. I truly loved his book Off-World and very much was looking forward to Heathens. The synopsis itself when presented to me started off with the line, “Can one very angry boy save the world?” And that grip stays with you through the whole book. [Read More]
While reaching out to prospective reviewers for my young adult novel, Heathens, I had occasion to meet and chat with several young people who expressed a desire to become book reviewers. I found myself inspired by their enthusiasm, their attentiveness, and their vigorous curiosity. They had questions—lots of questions, and I did my best to answer them. I sent them the reviewer package for Heathens, and I drafted a letter to serve as a quick guide to help them get started.
It occurred to me that there might be more young people with similar questions. I thought a series of posts discussing the process of reviewing books might be helpful. I’ve added both practical and conceptual topics and expanded on the theme of the original letter. It’s my hope that these posts and comments will help these aspiring artists get off to a good start.
Over the next weeks I’ll be posting on this under the tag “Book Reviewing.”
Suggestion: Learn first, then do. That’s how you learn more. You’ll want to develop your own style, your own way of doing things, but remember, traditions that exists in our human society came about for a reason. Not much of it is arbitrary. Sometimes the rules constrain, but more often than not they save you from repeating the mistakes of those who came before. So learn first, then do.