While composing a recent blog post, I needed to collect reviews on G. Neri’s Ghetto Cowboy. This was a post that gave me pause. My unpleasant reaction wasn’t so much that the author didn’t care for the book, but what was written in the review about why it wasn’t liked. In trying to learn how to write a decent review, I can remember a list of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ which include the instruction to never review what isn’t in the book. I fight so hard not to do that and it really isn’t easy. I hate to point fingers at another blogger in a negative way, but that review really struck me. I’m here to learn from you all in one way or another!
How do you express your dislike for a story based in reality when the author’s perception of reality differs from your own? I think Debbie Reese is pretty good at it. She just sticks to the fact.
I want to say that writing a bad review is hard, but sometimes it can be fun. Sometimes the book is so incredibly wrong that you can’t help but laugh and joke with it! Too often though, it is hard to admit dissatisfaction with a book so many others have liked, with a book that was so generously given to you, that is the author’s first attempt or that is the 53 book by a well established author. Sounds like something that’s not in the book is being brought to the review, doesn’t it?
Good reviews can be a challenge in a different way. I feel my vocabulary expanding as I search for new words to express how much I like something and even feel myself growing into finding ways to describe why I like something. When I really like a book, I feel like it’s an honor to write about it and I don’t want to do the book or the author a disservice. I don’t want my reviews to all sound the same and lacking in originality or reflecting the spirit of the piece.
Recently, at a meeting of other school librarians, I discussed with another school librarian/media specialist how books that were so popular a year or two ago are no longer being touch in the library. Perhaps this is because the books really weren’t that good in the first place. I think sometimes I really, really like a book as a general reader and don’t really review its literary merit. I think books with staying power are written on a different level and have themes, characters and complexity which often go ignored by reviewers such as myself. Should I ignore buying all the vampire books? the steamy romances? or the sports fiction? No, but maybe I don’t need to buy so numerous books in these trendy areas, and always should maintain copies of books that have become teen classics.
I’m wondering which recent works by author of color have staying power and are becoming teen classics?