I didn’t plan to write book reviews in this blog, but it just seemed to be a good idea to try a few. They are an important part of the literary market, including thrillers, that I just can’t ignore them. I try not to read any reviews before picking up a book to read. I do like to form my own opinion. I have taken to reading them after I complete a book. I find them useful to reinforce anything I didn’t like about the book that the reviewer did notice, or perhaps to highlight an aspect of the book that I felt to be well done and the author agreed. I feel this makes me a sharper thriller reader. This should make its way into my writing as well.
As I struggle to write a review on a book I just finished, a few thoughts come to mind. The first is negativity. These books were published. That is a big deal, even self-publishing. Someone must like them. Negative feedback can be very valuable to an aspiring author or even to a well-published author. It makes them better. It can also be crushing. Making the negativity public does not do a lot of good for very many people. It may save the time of a reader who avoids the book based on my review. Until I establish myself as a credible reviewer, however, I doubt if people would avoid a book simply because of a bad review by yours truly. Until I establish myself, a reader will not see a lot of negativity here. I do promise to cite any issues I did not like however, but I will also highlight parts I enjoyed or thought were particularly notable in some way. After all, this is simply my own subjective opinion based on my own personal background and tastes. I can’t really say a book is inherently “bad”, just that it didn’t work for me.
A second issue is which books do I review. My reviews will not all be current best sellers. I will look at some of these as I learn about the craft, but I will also look at older books and books I came across in some semi-random fashion. I pick up old books from a wide variety of book sales and check out any unusual bookstores I come across in my travels. If I find a new thriller in my local library, I will check it out. This is certainly not a methodical process, and I will try to disclose how I came upon the book I am reviewing.
A third issue is being careful about spoiling a book for a reader. Too much information can ruin a book. Talking about whether or not a villain gets killed in a book would certainly spoil the book for a reader. Even talking about whether or not a character is in a particular book might spoil an earlier book in a series. That makes summarizing the plot of a book a lot more complex than it appears on the surface. Hopefully, I won’t write any inadvertent spoilers.
If my reviews make a difference to some reader, I will be very surprised. I am doing this to force myself to read in a bit more critical manner so that I can improve my own writing. In addition, I will certainly enjoy a lot of books along the way. That can’t hurt.