Book Reviews: What To Expect

old books

Image © 2006 Joel Dietle

In my quest for blog post ideas, I have identified a goldmine of a topic: book reviews. I have read so many, and have a large list of even more on my GoodReads “to-read” list, that I could do one a week and have over two years worth of content.

Of course, I’ll have to write them first. Many of the reviews I have written on GoodReads contain a note similar to, “More in-depth review to come.” I guess I have just been in a hurry to begin reading the next novel. At any rate, I have found a source of blog material that won’t run out soon, and that’s a good thing.

As the title of this post suggests, I want to give you a taste of what to expect from the reviews i write, much of which is based on what I am looking for from a novel in the first place.

I read for entertainment

Well, that’s the main reason I read fiction, anyway, so story is going to matter quite a bit. I enjoy all sorts of fiction, so genre doesn’t matter too much, with only a few exceptions—I don’t usually read romance or erotica, or “splatterpunk” novels, although I have enjoyed novels with some of those elements present. Since the theme of this site is “supernatural suspense,” I will be limiting my reviews here to similar works, with the possibility of some science fiction and fantasy as well.

The point is, if I like the story, it’s going to weigh in heavily toward the overall review. But what really makes a story entertaining to me?

Likeable and believable characters
If I don’t really like—or, in the case of anti-heroes, really hate for all the right reasons—the main characters, I probably won’t be entertained. And if they behave in an unbelievable manner, I probably won’t like them.
Original plot elements
This is a difficult thing to achieve, but if you’re writing in the genres I’ll be reviewing, you’re going to have to be good at it. For the most part, however, if an author writes with a unique voice, that’s all it takes.
Good editing
With the rise of independent publishing, I am finding a disappointing amount of good stories produced with errors in spelling and grammar. I am a story-first reader, but if the errors are too distracting, it’s going to ruin the experience for me as a reader.
Good story structure
Take me for a thrill ride. Make me unable to resist turning the next page. Wrap up all your subplots by the end of the book. And if you include graphic sex, excessive gore, or, really, any other element, make sure it’s necessary to the story and not just tossed in for shock value.

What else?

If a novel has an overarching theme or some profound moral message that moves me in some way, I’ll bring that into my review as well. If it has these elements yet fails to entertain, it’s not going to score very high, regardless of how revolutionary the theme. And if these elements make the novel “preachy,” I may not even finish reading it.

I consider myself a forgiving yet honest reviewer. I’m not going to bash an author personally if I don’t like what I’ve read, but I’m not going to give in to the urge to patronize, either. I will post reviews of books I didn’t like so much, but I will be fair and explain exactly why I came to the conclusions I report. And, of course, these very same principles apply to the books I rate highly, as well.

I’m not a big fan of publishing spoilers, so I will avoid doing so unless it just can’t be avoided. If I find it necessary to do so, I’ll make sure that I precede the review with a warning, and make sure the spoiler elements are toward the end of the post.

So that’s about it. I expect to write a review and post it very soon. In the meantime, however, please let me know what you think. Am I wrong about something? Am I overlooking an important element? Make your voice heard below!

About RNAdams2

I write what I call "supernatural suspense"; that is, suspenseful stories involving otherworldly events. I have a lot I could (and will) write about the topic. I could explain what I write as "horror," but I have always believed that an author should have the primary motive of horrifying his readers, which is not the case with me. I could call my writing "supernatural" or "paranormal," but my writing lacks much of the focus on romance/erotica or teenage angst that seems to be prevalent in those genres.
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