I don’t think reviewers are supposed to be opinion shapers but rather subjective assessors of what people with like tastes will find enjoyable and objective assessors of quality. A good review should keep followers from wasting their time and money on books they probably won’t like or are of poor quality.
As a reader and author I want to find a reviewer that has tastes similar to mine, can objectively assess the quality of writing, and communicate effectively. I believe a good review will tell me three things:
First I want to know does this book suit my taste. Is it the right genre and sub genre? Is the style right for me? Why does my reviewer of choice recommend or not recommend this book? What does the reviewer like or not like? These are questions I want answered.
Secondly I’d like to know is the quality of the book good? I want to know if the book is fundamentally flawed (as in poorly edited or written) or well written. I want an opinion and the reason for the assessment.
Finally I’d like to know if the reviewer recommends my reading or not reading the book or spending my hard earned money on it. I want a firm recommendation and a review that waffles is of no use so why should I follow this blogger’s reviews.
What do you think? It would be useful to me as an author to know what others think and especially bloggers, reviewers and readers.
Liking a book is like liking a song or a movie or food. It's very personal. A reviewer might be able to tell you if the book is well-written or edited, but they can't tell you if you will like it or not or if you should spend your money on it. I have recently watched a movie that was panned by the critics, but found that I actually liked it a lot. I might not have watched it had I listened to the reviews. I think people place way too much importance on some else's opinion. If something sounds good to you then you should go with it and not rely so much on other people to tell you if you should like it or not. But that's just my opinion. LOL
I agree with you that taste is very personal. I think that is why I think readers should find a reviewer with tastes similar to their own. Then the subjective and objective opinions of the reviewer are useful. It doesn't matter how many critics pan the work if the one you closely relate to loves it then you probably will.
I generally agree with your thoughts, but I think a firm recommendation is difficult. Tastes diversify in too many ways, some of them subtle, and genres and subgenres and sub-subgenres fracture in too many ways for a universal recommendation. (If you're a fan of thrillers set around fresh-water lakes with eye patch-wearing heroes who have slightly elevated blood pressure, you're going to love this book!)
I do think the point about being specific about what you liked or disliked about the book sort of covers it. I recently read a very well-written thriller that was more of an espionage story than an intense action story. Depending on which way your tastes run, you are more or less likely to enjoy it. Also, sometimes a book comes out of nowhere and catches my eye and it turns out I love it. I can't guarantee that a reader with otherwise similar taste to mine would also enjoy it, but I can do my best to describe what I liked or didn't like about it and see if it sparks similar interest for them.
That's a very witty answer. You had me laughing with the eye patch-wearing heroes with elevated blood pressure. I agree with you. Someimes I come across something by accident and love it and sometimes I expect to really like something and it lets me down. It's all a crap shoot anyway, that's why I love that you can download a sample onto your Kindle and see if you like the book before you buy it.
I actually agree here, I do not want a reviewer that doesn't generally like fantasy to review a fantasy book. And I really do get frustrated by wishey whashy reviews it sounds like politicians to me, and we all have had enough of that.
I think a good review can be either positive or negative. I always want to know the WHY behind an opinion. If you like a book for reason a, b, or c, that could be appealing to me. It could also be an indicator that I won't like a book. The same goes for a negative review. Sometimes I buy a book for the very reasons that a reviewer hates it. In my opinion, a good book review is an honest and detailed review. Reviews that just recap the back cover or marketing copy aren't helpful. I can read the description anywhere. I think a good review has to carry some guts about why a book works (or doesn't work). And, I also agree that quality is important in a book. I will specifically not purchase a book if the editing is not good. You can read a rant I wrote about that here on why editing matters.
I'm a picky reader. I like to know something more about a book than marketing or back cover copy before I buy it. Reviews matter. And, ultimately, they can really help book sales if they are quality.
I agree. Why read a reviewer who is afraid to give their straight take on a book and doesn't tell why they came to their opinion?
I think you have accurately articulated a few things that go into a quality review. I try to recommend books by stating that fans of ___ will probably enjoy the novel. Most novels are written to reach a particular audience, so I think it is good to state who will get the most out of a particular book.
Are there any mystery or thriller reviewers out there that have a blog? What do you think?