I usually don't use my blog as a platform for my personal opinions on anything other than the books I read and even then I try to be objective as much as I can but there's something that I feel like I need to get off my chest so bear with me.
Recently I've noticed a huge trend in reviews that really bothers me. Big time bothers me because it's hurtful to authors. When someone puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and creates a world and characters and a narrative for the entertainment of others they become like that person's babies. They are sacred and cherished by the author and important to them in ways a reader doesn't always understand. What I've noticed lately is a large swath of reviewers who have no clue how to really review books with anything in mind other than themselves.
Let me clarify a bit because I do know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion on books and that is completely and totally okay. Everyone should see a book from their own perspective and be allowed to talk about it. What I have a problem with is the readers who completely disrespect authors in their reviews.
What a review should include is whether or not you connected with the characters and why. Whether or not the plot was realistic and why. Whether the pacing was adequate and whether the writing style was dynamic or stunted. It should be an objective response to the book, taking into consideration that the book be faithful to its genre and that suspending disbelief doesn't mean completely throwing out your knowledge of how real people act and, unless indicated by the plot, how physics works.
Except I've seen reviews given for things like the price of the Kindle version costs more than the hardcover version and therefore the book is only given a 1 star review. Or the reader didn't completely understand the genre the book was set in, in spite of all the indications in the marketing, and doesn't already enjoy that genre so therefore, because they don't like the genre, the book only deserves 2 stars. This is NOT the way to review a book, people.
The appropriate way to review a book is thus. First, and maybe I shouldn't consider this common sense since it doesn't seem to be from the majority of the reviews I've read in the past week, choose a book from a genre you actually LIKE. Don't pick something you don't like and then give a negative review because it bored or annoyed you. That's like accepting a date from a guy you can't stand only to make fun of him to his friends for being exactly what you don't like.
Second, the whole name of the game is to be objective as much as possible. If you've chosen a book in a genre you enjoy and it doesn't live up to what you feel should be part of that genre you're probably right. However, the best way to express that is not to say the author is an idiot but rather to point out how it could have been done better with as much respect as possible. Just because the book didn't live up to your expectations doesn't give you leave to trash it or the author. It does give you the right to point out how it failed in a respectful way and suggest how it could have been done better or what you would have preferred.
Third, and this goes with the second point, being professional is key. The author didn't write a book that you didn't like just to make you mad. To go into an entire diatribe about how stupid and ridiculous the author was doesn't help you in the long run as a reviewer. Especially if your point of view is jaded (I just read a review of Delirium where the reviewer said she was rooting for the dystopia to win because love is just to messy to be allowed in the real world) or inexperienced (I also read a review of Across the Universe that discounted the entire book because they didn't understand the references to sex which were pretty darn mild if you ask me).
I am really not saying that your review shouldn't include whether or not you enjoyed a book. That's important. But if you can't judge a book objectively for what it is, note that the writing is good even if you don't like the plot, note that the characters are excellent even if you don't care for the whole idea, etc. Then you're not going to be taken seriously by publishers and other more experienced reviewers.
I don't apologize for this little rant. I just hope that it makes a difference because I don't think authors should be punished just because you don't like the genre of their book even though you chose to read it or because you can't see past one fault to what the author was trying to accomplish with the book. And just so any reader of my blog knows, the annoying reviews I'm referring to have come from Amazon.com only.