How to Review a Book, by Glenn Lazar Roberts

How to Review a Book, by sci-fi writer Glenn Lazar Roberts

Reviewing a book is not quick n easy. Saying ‘I liked it’ or ‘I didn’t like it’ is not a review but laziness. Are you qualified to review the topic? Are you literate or do you just read to kill time at the beach? Can you compare two different books on the same subject? Did you read the whole book? Yes, reading the whole book is important because surprises may lurk deep within. Did you make an effort to follow the plot? ‘I got bored n stopped reading’ tells me much about the so-called ‘reviewer’ n nothing at all about the book. Can you spell? If you misspell words thruout your review, then you are broadcasting your own inability to comprehend what you read. (‘Thruout’ n ‘n’ BTW, are not misspellings, but innovations. Innovation is not error but a suggestion that others try writing a better way.)

Definitely do NOT reveal the plot n spoil the book for others. That’s a big no-no. Competent reviewers don’t post spoilers. I had a reader once (I can’t say he ‘reviewed’ it) post on Amazon every plot development in one of my books extending to several thousand words, a lengthy essay. He liked the book but his posting was still a disservice. I had to ask Amazon to remove the review even tho he gave the book 5-stars.

It should go without saying that a review is not an assassination attempt on the author. If you dislike the author, you should write nothing at all because a book is an entity wholly distinct from the author and should be considered separately. To merge one with the other is collective punishment, or the literary equivalent of ethnic cleansing.

Are you familiar with the book’s genre? Can you recognize if it is unique n does not belong to a genre? Don’t write ‘This isn’t my kind of genre, but…” If you aren’t familiar with the book’s genre then you are not qualified to review the book — good books usually invent their own ‘genre’ rather than following existing genres like sheep. Great books create new genres.

Another no-no: if a book is part of a series, then do the intelligent thing n read the first book in the series before reading the others. Don’t read midway thru the series then complain that you didn’t understand the plot. I had a Mensa reviewer do that with one of my books, someone who should have known better since she was clearly not stupid, yet she ignored my clear advice — as if I needed to mention the obvious — to begin the series by reading Book One, cautioning her that she won’t understand the plot if she skips forward. She ignored my advice n started with Book Two, then complained in her posted review that she did not understand my book. That’s not reviewing, that’s laziness n a slap in the face of the writer. Yes, even Mensa members can behave quite stupidly. Don’t be one of those trolls whose one purpose in life is to shoot down books without making any effort to comprehend them.

Be considerate in reviewing. Keep in mind that good writers spend literally years carefully composing their works. You should be prepared to spend more than a few seconds thinking about their studied, measured, n often inspired results. If there is something you didn’t understand, it may be that it’s you who are missing something rather than the writer.