Reviews: It's Not You, It's Me

I steer clear most of the time of reviewing things here, mostly because one of my biggest personality faults is a serious lack of filter between my brain and my mouth when I either really love something or reaaaaaally hate something.

Ultimately my opinions and my love/hate/indifference of something says more about me than it does about the film or the book or the game or the music.  A review is a reflection of each individual's interpretation of something, and we all come at it from our own perspectives. 

For example, I just failed to finish reading What's Left Of Me.  The concept of this book is brilliant and the writing style is beautiful.  There were sentences in this book I reread just because they sounded so wonderful.  Kat Zhang is super talented.  But something kept me from fully engaging with the story and the characters. When I realised what my problem was, I just couldn't keep reading.  The issue was the similarities it had in its 3rd act to my favourite book of all time, Philip Pullman's Northern Lights (also known as the Golden Compass).

I reaaaaaaaaally love this book

Nothing any of us creates is entirely original and unique.  Instead, we take different angles on something that's been done before.  Knowing that, I should've been able to overlook the issue, but I could not. At one point it felt so similar it read like a direct quote. And this is because the book it reminded me of is the book that means more to me than any other book I've read in my entire life. Nothing compares to what Northern Lights means to me. The first time I read Northern Lights, I was a little girl who had a serious lack of heroines in her life.  And then along came Lyra, and I wanted to be her.  Oh, how I idolised her.  And as I grew older and I re-read it over and over, the book's other messages really resonated with things that happened in my life.  So to read something that reminds me of Northern Lights but doesn't work anywhere near as well is going to be a problem.

For me.

What's Left Of Me is a perfectly good book - for anyone who isn't me.  That's my review :D I sincerely hope you do enjoy it!

I love what I love, I dislike what I dislike, and that's because I'm me.  And that's what a review boils down to: me.  It's not the thing I'd be reviewing, it's my response to it.  I can't be particularly objective when I have strong feelings about something.  What can I say, it's an epic character flaw of mine ;)  Do I enjoy getting into debates with people with differing opinions? Absolutely! Do I feel like this blog is the place to share my admittedly strong opinions? Ah, no.  I wouldn't want to upset anyone.  Besides, this blog is about writing and creativity. I'll stick to posting my summaries of what I've read in my What's Up Wednesday posts, the oh so occasional rant about things that irritate me, and the slightly more frequent explosions of fangirl ecstasy.

How do you approach reviews?

Comments

  1. How do I approach reviews? Mainly, I think of the reader: what will they want to know about this book? If they're a writer buddy, they might want to know genre, POV, what it compares to, how well it was written, and so on. Others may be concerned about the level of sex/violence/profanity. So I try to cover those issues. I also try to give a fair assessment of the book, acknowledging my own preferences and biases. If the book falls short of a five-star review because of things that irritate me (e.g., frequent profanity, stereotyping of "religious" people, etc.), then I note that. What I aim to do is to give the reader an overall impression of what the book's about and what to expect in terms of reading experience. For those who share my taste and/or worldview, they will note the things that irritate me, and things that I enjoyed. But hopefully even those who don't agree with my perspective will have a good idea of what the book's about.

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    1. Sounds like you strike the perfect balance. And it's really interesting seeing your pet peeves or what you feel may concern other people. You are a very caring reviewer, Colin.

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  2. I generally only review books I'd give a three-star or higher rating. So, if I don't review it, you know it simply fell short for me somewhere. And if I do review something that wasn't my cup of tea, I try to keep in mind that it is only one person's opinion (mine), and that others may not have the same reactions.

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    1. Exactly. I feel I just get *so* emotional about things I'd probably fail to properly disconnect. I'm just not a reviewer. I'm a ranter ;)

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