Wrongs while reviewing a literary piece


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It’s been a while now since I mandated myself to write a review for my every single read; be it a classic or contemporary, be it a piece I liked or the one I didn’t, I make sure to pen my experience down (on Goodreads) for, if not anybody else’s, my sake to the least.

I won’t say I have read numerous reviews but enough to make me realize how different each review is to the other and, yet, how each of it resemble to its fellow.

Many reviewers mention the plot of the novel succinctly, which I do not ever do in my review. Not that either of the way is wrong; my motive of writing a review is to convey my experience through that book, what I grasped from the story, not what the author (of the fiction) had intended to say; for the lattermost purpose, you anyway will read the book.

There are some people who, unlike me, prefer to know about the book’s plot before they start with one. Such are the people who might get least from my reviews. Here is where, when I had just started penning down the reviews, I found my reviews to differ from others.

I like not to discuss about the story itself but in what ways did it change me, my mood, if it made me ponder over something, if it turned me into a philosopher of a kind, or an agonist for a period. If it (the book) has to be good, it has to have some effect, be it a pleasant or an unpleasant one, on me; the one that doesn’t have any, is the one I rate with 2 stars.
Why not 1? Because even to take a book to its end, to complete those hundreds of pages with sentences is in itself a huge task; I realize this when I write even half a dozen of pages, and, so, I cannot dismiss the hard-work, patience and perseverance behind writing a book; even if I want to, I just cannot.

Many misunderstand a book’s review with its author’s review; they start their review saying that they’re going to talk about the book/ novel, but, instead, end up talking about its author and, strangely, end their review writing- “This is why I liked (or hated) the book,” leaving me wondering- why the person did like (or hate) the book?!
There’s no harm in talking about the book’s author (I do that) or both: the book and author, but what is being discussed should be precisely mentioned in the start of that review. That way the reader would know what to expect and won’t be surprised with an unexpected element.

Now, the major loophole (that I recently realized while reading a Scott Card’s book) is that we (lot of us) treat every book the same; that is to say we keep the parameters of reviewing every book same, without altering them with the kind of book we have in hand. Let me put my own example here,

I write a review for every read keeping certain factors in my mind- the plot/ concept of course, the characterization of the other world, the putting up of whole fictional world; then the writing style (which may include sentence structures, variation in their usages, etc.) and then the other technicalities (punctuation, symbolism, etc.) This was a fixed criteria that I used to use while reviewing a book.
But not every book is meant to have all of these; to have decent written English (given English book it is) is good enough for some; not all stories are meant to have characters as that of Anna Karenina and Levin, or the description of nature and landscapes of that of Wuthering Heights, or the awestruck dialogues of that of Pride and Prejudice; every story, every book has a different purpose to serve, for which each uses a different approach- some progress the story by getting deeper and in-depth of characters, while some are about “What’s going to happen next?”

If I had rated “And then there were none” 3/5 because the characterization wasn’t strong, as there were too many characters in mere 200 pages and none was explored in-depth, then how more wrong could I be to my justification of rating of 3 to the novel? I cannot reckon.
Mystery books (mostly) are meant to unravel the answers to the questions, even if the characterization isn’t too strong; if such novel makes you to turn pages, it deserves better.

If I rate a book, whose intent was to show its readers, with an exquisite imagination and description, the unexplored parts of a fantasy world, with 3 stars because it was slow-paced and did not provide me with the “What next?” factor, who is making the fool of oneself here? Perhaps, the writer? Right? Readers can never be wrong. How can they be?

I hope, by now, I’m able to convey that judging a fish on how fast it climbs a tree is sheer ignorance on the part of the judging panel. And guess what, I have been a part of that panel; you might have been too.

How do you plan to write your reviews? What kind of reviews makes you pick/ discard a particular book? Is there a wrong or right, according to you, while writing a review?

IF YOU ARE A FIRST-TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers’. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.

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Copyright © 2017 by Idle Muser. All rights reserved.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Mohan S says:

    hey aditi…. Glad to see your blog after a long… more over i want to congrats you with regards to write india’s special mention for Anand’s author contest. Happy for you..sorry for congratulating very late….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      And I’m glad to have you back here. How have you been?
      Apologies for such delay in responding. Been bit caught up with things.
      Thanks much for the wishes.☺️

      Like

  2. lynnefisher says:

    Hi Aditi, I’ve collected a few guidelines on reviewing which i do use, and they can be useful to get going, but over-riding this is the personal response as you’ve described and that has to come first for me too! Your reviews are lovely and in-depth – quality ones – you got me going trying to put more into them, I’m still learning, but as the adage goes, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      I’m so honoured.☺️
      Writing review of everything that I read has been one of the best habits that I inculcated in 2017. Learning, indeed, is a never-ending process. And as they say, the day you stop learning is the day you stop living; and I’m far from giving up to living now.
      I’d love to go through those guidelines, Lynne, if you’re ok in sharing them. They might help me with my reviewing too.

      Like

  3. rishhu says:

    Yup!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. thealvarezchronicles says:

    Yeah, too many reviewers I have read have some cookie cutter template for what a book should look like. I have read way too many books to think in that way. In the end the books leave you feeling certain ways, and as a reader that is what needs to be expressed so that other readers can decide if they want to feel those things too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Idle Muser says:

      I totally second your views. As a reader we have the right to express on how the story didn’t make us feel the way it was supposed to. But we, in no way, can tell how the authors were supposed to make us feel; it is their choice. If the author meant to make us smile in the end, it’s his choice; if not, it’s his choice too. The worst that we, as a reader, can do to a writer is get swayed by such notions of ours and affect the overall rating and review for such a piece.
      I don’t know how did I miss replying to your comment; I remember reading it. Apologies for such a delayed response.

      Like

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