Sunday, September 16, 2012

I don't do book reviews because...

I feel too bad about it when I dislike a book.

Recently someone loaned me a book to read. It was one that I had seen at stores and book fairs, and had picked it up often, but always ended up choosing something else.

It's good that I never bought it, because I would have been disappointed about having spent any money on this book that I had a hard time even finishing.

Why didn't I like it?

It could be that it was outside my usual favorite genres. But I can love any story, in any genre, if it is told right.

It could be that the voice was annoyingly inconsistent. At times the narrator seemed to be the right age, and at other times she sounded like a 40-year-old school teacher. But even this hurdle, as distracting as it was, may have been overcome if I had loved the story enough.

It could be that the story lacked any real depth, and that the narrator had to spell out for the reader exactly what she had learned and how she had grown through her experience. It had potential for great character development, but, in the end, it felt flimsy and shallow. But even shallow stories can be fun to read if they are engaging enough.

It could be that the intriguing blurb that drew me to the book ended up being misleading. I thought I was reading a story about A, but it turned out to be a story about B, with A being only one incident in the book. But as disappointing as that was, I would have gotten over it if the story drew me in.

It was really a combination of all those things.

So, authors, do your readers a favor. Keep your characters' voices consistent. If your MC is a fifteen-year-old skater boy, he should act and sound like it. He shouldn't sound like a skater boy in one paragraph and a high school English teacher in the next.

Don't be satisfied with a flimsy, fast-moving plot with shallow characters and insubstantial character growth. Reading a book like that is like eating undercooked bacon. Such potential, but hard to get into!

Your book blurb should tell us what your book is about, not what one of the cool parts in your book is. If your character has to slay a dragon, that's awesome, but don't tell us that your book is about a girl who goes on a quest to slay a dragon if that is only one of her stops along the way. That would be like saying The Fellowship of the Ring is about Frodo's encounter with the Nazgul on Weathertop.

If more authors would apply this simple advice, maybe there would be more books for me to love in the world.


  1. Great advice, Rebecca. I agree, if the main character doesn't sound like themselves, it's highly distracting.

    Catherine Denton

  2. Well said! I am in complete agreement with that post.

  3. cusonals 0Have you read THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN? I think you'd love that one.

  4. Corey, I haven't read it yet, but it is on my list!

  5. Rebecca, this is an FANTASTIC post! I am with you, character development is extremely important to me both as a writer and also as a reader and movie-watcher. Any great story can be told but if I feel it didn't depict a strong sense of the characters it didn't feel like it went deep enough for me. Storied are often supposed to connect with us.


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