Tuesday, October 10, 2006

and yet still more on reviewing

MotherReader has written an insightful defense of negative reviews. And kudos to her for having the ovaries to point out that those reviews are often just a whole lot of fun.

For my final (I hope), concise wrap up of my position:
-- I am pro negative reviews
-- I am pro (freelance) reviewers making their own decisions about whether or not to write them

Are we clear?

Now, while I actually have the attention of some other reviewers, here are two issues that I've been pondering today:

-- what approach do you take to material when you don't find it particulary "good" or appealing, yet have reason to believe it will appeal to a particular subset of others?

-- what approach do you take when material is very similar to other books you've seen time and again and has nothing particularly outstanding to set it apart from the ones that have gone before it?


Blogger Kelly bligged...

Hi Wendy:

I'll comment on your two questions. I can see I'm a reviewing wuss, but

Re #1: Sometimes I'll pass on a book that's not for me to another blogger I know will be interested. Often for The Edge of the Forest. I'm not particularly interested in teen drug stories, for example, and will send those on.

Re #2: I usually can not finish books that are too much like other books out there. If I don't finish them, I don't review them.

Also, I am guilty of charged of ignoring the original intent of your post. I also see writing a review as a form of writing, different from fiction or from academic writing I must do. My reviews and my writing have become stronger while I have been keeping a blog.

10/10/2006 5:27 PM  
Blogger david elzey bligged...

It's funny you ask because just last night I was faced with reviewing a book I had difficulties with, but when I finished slogging through it (and my feelings about it) I found myself 180 degrees from the target audience (my daughter). She told me it was "really good".

I turned back to my review and had to wonder if I was doing the book justice. The review I'm writing is for adults and as adults aren't we responsible maintaining standards? Kids, after all, would eat cake three meals a day if it just came down to what they liked. Then again, shouldn't we also be teaching them how to discern for themselves what truly is good by letting them make their own comparrisons?

In our house there's a motto about movies (and opinions about them) that is slowly seeping into covering books as well: see everything and judge for yourself. In light of my conflict I went back to the review and kept it somewhat neutral. (Mind you, my personal review on my blog isn't neutral, only my "professional" review).

Yeah, I chickend out this time. In the long run it really is better to keep the truly negative reviews for when it's necessary and otherwise let my lack of enthusiasm speak for the mediocre.

10/11/2006 7:18 AM  

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