I recently came across a Stylist article that identified the following points as key to a good book review:
- The reviewer must have read the entire book
- Provide a balanced overview without giving too much away
- Be more than just a summary of plot, character and scene
- Be constructive, covering both pros and cons
- Communicate something of the personality of the reviewer “as though you’re discussing the book with your favourite smartest friend”
- Consist of more than just the reviewer’s opinion of the book but why they hold that opinion
Personally, I agree with all of these but recognise they are easier to support in theory than to put into practice! I find the reviews most likely to trigger my interest are those that show some sort of emotional connection with the book being reviewed (whether negative or positive), that whet my appetite but leave enough for me to discover myself if I read the book.
What do you think? Are there other elements that are essential to a good book review? Are some more important than others?
When it comes to ratings, a 2015 Huffington Post article argued that reviewers tend to be over-generous, awarding five-star reviews too readily. This was specifically in relation to Amazon reviews; I haven’t noticed this trait myself in the book blogging community. The article suggested that a five-star review should be reserved for a book that has ‘everything: good writing, good editing and a story that makes you want to read it again and tell your friends about it’. Furthermore, they suggest that if a book is well-written and well-edited, it should never get less than a three-star review.
Personally, I think this places a little too much importance on the editing of a book and I would say a book has to have not just ‘good writing’ but ‘outstanding writing’ to deserve a five-star review. But perhaps I’m just mean with my five-star ratings!
What is your criterion for awarding a top rating? Are ratings even helpful at all?