What do you want from a review?

Clearly the answer to this question will be a bit different for consumers and producers of entertainment, but I’d really like to know what information you like to see in a review. I’m particularly curious about book reviews, though I’d be interested on thoughts on other types of reviews. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some wax eloquent about theme and style, while others rave about a certain character or complain about pet peeves. I noticed recently Amazon set a minimum word count for reviews, so clearly they want more than “great book” or a brief stay away message.  But how should a reviewer fill up those required words? Do you have a maximum length past which you refuse to bother reading? What is most helpful to the entertainment consumer (or reader)? What works for writers–other than the “great book” thing? Some reviews re-post the blurb or recap the plot? Some include spoilers? Some book reviews try to be helpful by steering readers to other books in a series.  I’ve even seen reviews that suggest a better book to read. Last, but not least, do you feel some reviews have more credibility than others?

Coming soon on the blog…
While you’re thinking about that, let me tell you about all the cool stuff coming up on the blog. In December, SGLSF is part of two blog tours.


On December 9, Karen A Wyle will be here as part of the Twin-Bred Virtual Book Tour.

On December 13, Jeanette Grey will be stopping by as part of her two week long virtual book tour in support of her upcoming release, Unacceptable Risk, a cyberpunk romance novella  from Samhain Press.

Also later in December, SGLSF will be participating in the annual SFR Holiday Blitz, organized by Heather at The Galaxy Express. Very exciting!

And now back to our question, what elements do you want to see in a review?

8 thoughts on “What do you want from a review?

  1. How interesting. My post for tomorrow is about reviews too.

    Mostly, I want to know if the reviewer thought the book had a satisfying ending. A weak ending is a deal-breaker for me. I don’t mind spoilers at all, but I’m in the minority.

    If I had my druthers, I’d like the reviewer to add spoilers behind a cut or blacked out so you only see it when it’s highlighted.

    • Thanks for weighing in, Maria!

      Do you like to know “why” it worked or just that it did?

      I think the problem with spoiler cuts is they don’t always work as expected. Some that look fine in the browser don’t work at all in a feed, for example.

      • I’d rather not know the why because that’s part of the journey for discovery for each reader. My favorite part of the story is figuring out motivation and result.

        Ref: cuts
        Oh, you’re right. I’d forgotten that not all delivery systems are the same.

    • Thanks, Julia. I confess I want to now some of that, even as a reader. I have hope that a little of the why might reveal when a reviewer doesn’t like a book, because it triggers some pet peeve that wouldn’t bother me at all. A review is still just an opinion.

  2. In short, what I look for in a good review is a brief synopsis (preferably one the reviewer wrote themselves, not a rehashing of the blurb) and what was good/bad about the book, whether that be plot devices, character arcs, overall prose, scene settings etc.

    It doesn’t have to be an essay, in fact I would prefer if it weren’t. I honestly think if you can’t say what you want to say about a book in 5 pars or less, then you’re using too many words and I’ve long since lost interest.

    And I’m one of those people who would rather not have spoilers. I think that authors work hard to put in plot twists and I am honouring them by allowing myself to be surprised by them… Who am I kidding? I just want to find out the story for myself! But if the ending is weak, I’d rather be told that it is. Not that the ending should be spelled out, just that it didn’t work. Like Maria, weak endings tick me off too.

    • Well said, Gillian. Good points. I like a super brief intro to the plot. Not even a synopsis, more like providing the premise or lead in to the story. I also like the middle ground between reviews that are too short to be useful and those too long to hold my interest.

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