About books and reviewing them.

Since this is a website about reviewing books, I should talk a little about what I look for in a book and what I see as the purpose of a review.

The first thing that attracts me to a book is the plot, or in non-fiction the thesis. The plot should have some originality to it. There are some stories that have been told so many times that I could tell you the ending of the story well before I reach the last page of the book. I like to be surprised I like to have a moment when it all makes sense.

Characters are what drive the story. The plot may be fantastic, but if your characters aren’t people that I can care about, it won’t matter. That means that they need to be more than pieces that are moved about on the board. They need to have some complexity, perhaps some mixed motivations. They need to learn about themselves and the world through their experiences. I have read books where the plot was essentially. “These people go up a mountain, and then they come down again.” Yet the characters were so well drawn and their internal struggle to make sense of the world was so great that I couldn’t put the book down.

A review is like a letter of introduction for your book. I will give a brief synopsis of the opening gambits of your plot and characterization. Not enough to spoil anything, but enough that the people who read the review can decide if this story is for them. I then talk about the crafting of the story. How well is it written? How much of the story is simply dumped in our laps, and how much do we need to explore for ourselves? Are the people who inhabit the story the kind of people who make for an interesting tale?

I answer these questions for myself. I am one person and my reviews are about my opinion. You may have a different opinion, that’s what the comment button is for.

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