If you’re a book blogger (odds point to yes, since you’re reading this) you’ve written one of those crazy things called a book review. You’ve probably also ripped out a few hairs while doing it, too.
Who do we write these reviews for, though? Do we hold a specific audience in our minds as we write out our thoughts? Is it a cathartic practice, simply to share all our emotions after a captivating read? Knowing who we pen these reviews for can change how we format them, and how we phrase ourselves.
WHAT IS A “BOOK REVIEW”
A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. […] They offer a brief description of the text’s key points and often provide a short appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the work. The review conveys an opinion, supporting it with evidence from the book. A book review addresses the question: “Does the book deliver on its promise?”
In short, a book review ought to contain
✏️ a brief summary,
✏️ the strengths and weaknesses of the book,
✏️ an answer to the question “does the book deliver on its promise,”
✏️ and *evidence* (paraphrased or direct quotes)
and a book review is based on an opinion, not fact.
WAIT! I DISAGREE!
even tho most reviews follow that format, others use them in different order or incorporate other stuff. Even on Book Princess Reviews, Sha and Mandy have different opinions on what reviews should contain. You will see Sha following more of the traditional format with quotes and summarized facts, where Mandy’s take on a lot more of how she reacted emotionally (and not so much logically because is logic even really a thing?).
But why do we choose to include or not include certain elements in our reviews? Is it because it’s what we want? Are we catering to the publishers? Or trying to appeal to the masses/our followers? We’re taking on a few different people who reviews might be written for.
👸 Ourselves! 👸
Most of us got into the book review and blog world not to get all the free books or the fame and glory – we’re natural writers that just want to share our thoughts with a bookish community who supports and celebrates us.
Writing reviews can also help us figure out how we feel about a novel. There have been a few times that I have walked into a review, and it wasn’t until I had finished writing it that I realized exactly how I felt about it. Sometimes a book that I knew that I enjoyed turned into a favorite when I realized there were truly no flaws I could think of or books I thought were okay turned into rants once I got going. They certainly help us sort out thoughts and correctly categorize our books.
👸 Publishers! 👸
While most reviews we do are books that we bloggers aren’t getting from free, sometimes we are lucky to score an ARC. Since we do receive this book for free – either physical or digital – sometimes it might change how we react to a novel. Perhaps we feel like we can’t DNF it since it seems like we might have made a promise to the author or publisher. Perhaps we feel like we shouldn’t judge too harshly or really need to focus on the positives because you’re afraid you’ll never get another ARC again (Mandy has definitely had this fear before, since I mean, you’ve seen a few of her reviews). You might even feel like you need to change your voice to sound more “professional” or need to check all the boxes you think the publishers might want/need/expect from a review.
On the flip side, sometimes we write a review hoping to appeal to publishers as well. If I write a quirky or funny or fancy enough, perhaps they will spot me and see how epic of a reviewer I am and shower me with all the free books???? Maybe??? this is what dreams are made of??
👸 Followers! 👸
SHA here! Maybe book reviews aren’t for followers, because this post was accidentally published without an answer in this section. Hmm.
Every time I put a content warning or a representation list with a review, that’s directed at no one more importantly than the people who read our reviews! These markers help readers pick books that represent them, and/or create a safe space.
A review is a way to say HEY. HEY YOU. REAAD THISSS. And what better way than listing all your best reasons? Be they logical, emotional, or quotes straight from the book.
Maybe THAT’S why reviews differ so much. We all have our different marketing techniques, our preferred way to say that this book, this book right here, is the one you need to read.