You, as a newcomer to giving your opinion (and yes, you do have one) may be apprehensive, even scared.
But fear not!
(Ooo, that felt good. I’m going to say it again.)
Fear not, I say!
My step-by-step guide will show you exactly how to write the perfect review, no matter what genre, your experience, or even having read the book!
Step One - Skim
Reading is for suckers. There is nothing new under the sun, and this book is no different. Most writers fill their stories up with useless knowledge about characters, settings, plot, obstacles and resolution, etc. This should have no bearing whatsoever on your review. Read a few pages, skip ahead, don’t bother with any intricacies of dialogue, or author choices, finish up the last few pages and then hustle to your keyboard. Your work as a reviewer is done.
Step Two – Make It Personal
You are, after all, the audience. Not part of an audience. THE audience itself. Numero Uno. The Boss. The Big Cheese. The Head Honcho in Charge of the Universe According to You. The writer is writing specifically for you, and if he or she or they or it fail to meet your every need and address your personal whims, then now is the time for character assassination and good old-fashioned name-calling.
Step Three – Logic? What’s Logic?
Author’s don’t make choices for a reason. Ever. If you think and author has some kind of internal logic, then, as a reviewer, you’ve failed. Authors, always willy-nilly throw around characters and events. They never try to justify a choice with previous dialogue or information. Don’t try to follow along, just build your review knowing the author was an idiot.
Step Four – It’s Your Turn
What’s a review for except to point out all the ways in which you could have written this story, and made it so much better? After all, you can see so much clearer into the author’s world than they can. It’s only right, fair, and even responsible for you to show that, no matter how in-line with the characterization or the plot, the book would have been “so, so much better” if it was written your way.
Step Five – You’re the Expert
So what if the author has a PhD in Native American history and has written the book specifically based on a previous peer reviewed article? Who cares if the author is actually a Native American herself? What does that matter when you have Wikipedia and own the director’s cut of “Dances with Wolves”? So-called “experts” are nothing more than a pedantic wannabe, and it’s your duty to point out how things really are.
The last thing to remember is that, whenever possible, you should engage in an angry argument with the author. Don’t let things like “facts” or “quotes” dissuade you from your original stance. No one was every called a hero for reasonable discourse (except that Gandhi fellow, and that Martin Luther King, Jr. guy). There’s no such thing as “right” or “wrong” where a review is concerned, only where the author is concerned, and then he or she is always wrong, wrong, wrong.