Friday, January 5, 2007

Book Review Format

Well, well, it looks like you just stumbled upon the entry that explains the format for my book reviews!

For this blog, almost all of the books I’m going to be reviewing are books that fit into the fantasy or sci-fi genres. These reviews are going to be a little tricky—unlike video games, anime, or even movies, you can’t really section out certain qualities that make the book good. There’s no animation, cinematography or music to assault your senses, no controls that allow you to effect what happens. It’s just you and the pages printed with the author’s words. In a sense, books are a much intimate form of entertainment.

Rather than muddle up my reviews with nitpicky ratings for stuff like “editing” or “characters” or “use of words”, I decided it’d be better to simply write out my review, and give you one ‘overall’ rating (from 1-10), that expresses my opinion on the book.

As for the sorts of thing I think makes a good book…Obviously the main thing that’s important is the plot. If you don’t care what happens, what motivation is there to keep reading? Pacing and characters also effect this too—I have a higher tolerance for slow pacing than some people (my favorite book is Lord of the Rings, after all), but a book that drags on and on will start to seem more like a chore than entertainment. Likewise, if you don’t find yourself interested by the characters (or if the characters are weak archetypes), you’re probably not going to care about learning more about them, or reading about their adventures. And, of course, writing style is important.

Also, while I try to be as objective as possible, I’m only one reviewer. My tastes in books are going to find their way into my reviews. So you know where I’m coming from, here’s a summery of my…

Personal biases: One of my biggest things is characters. I want to read about interesting, likeable characters and watch them grow. If, for whatever reason, I have a hard time connecting to the characters of a book, I have a more difficult time enjoying the book. For example, I can’t stand Gone with the Wind, no matter how much of a classic book it is. The only character I like in that book dies in the end, and I kept wishing Scarlett would be attacked by enemy soldiers.
Actually, because of my love for characters, I have a tendency to like fantasy books slightly more than sci-fi books—this isn’t an absolute rule, I just feel that at times, sci-fi books focus too much on technology, and not on people. When sci-fi has great characters, though, I LOVE it.

My favorite books: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, any and every Star Wars book written by Timothy Zahn, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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