Thoughts on book reviewing
I agreed to read a book for review, but I found that I just didn’t much like it. The book was all right, nothing wrong with it as a book, but it didn’t do for me what I like books to do, which is take me out of my mundane world to a different time and place. I could not get into the world.
The author did an honorable job. The writing was lucid, descriptive, grammatical. I just didn’t see any point in the world being set up the way it was, so the story seemed contrived, unmotivated. Maybe that’s being too critical. I see a good bit of that in the steam-punk I’ve read, too, which has the benefit of making up new words, and if well done, twisting history in interesting directions.
What does that say about the book? Nothing. It’s just not my genre, and I need to be more careful in choosing what I read, making sure there is more fantasy than romance. Romance novels, paranormal or otherwise, leave me wanting something else—like eating cotton candy. A romantic subplot is fine, adding another layer of conflict to the story. But I want the story to be something more than getting the characters hooked up.
I just don’t get off on watching other people do it. I want to see how they live, what their values are, how they think differently than I do. Robert Heinlein and Terry Pratchett do that. Jane Austen does that, though her books are certainly romances. So I have a dilemma: Write the review or not?
I decided not to. I can’t write a review to do the book justice. I know how it feels to get a review like the one I would write. As my Mom would say, “If you can’t say something nice…”
Now I have to go back and look at my own work to see if my intentionally generic setting is getting in the way of the story I want to tell, as one of my reviewers suggested.