Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Reviewer You?--Yes, you

Many a book reader enjoys giving a review of a book read, usually oral to friends, but what about online? This article will explore how you approach the task. (Note, two cautions will be mentioned at the end of this article.)

Here's my take on Book Review 101.

1. Read the book, the whole book. Taking notes is optional. If you're a reader that sketches out character outlines, plot twists, or memorable quotes, sentences and words you mean to check out in a dictionary, keep doing it.

2. Consider the theme. Examples are a) loss and reconciliation, b) life and humanity, c) emotional and physical slavery, d) choices and, when they are present, sometimes not the choices we'd want to make, e) using knowledge to gain freedom, and f) forgiveness. Look at the world. There are many themes. Did I list the generic good versus evil?

3. Do the characters realistically interact? Are the scenes rationally and casually interrelated? Characters go from point A to point B for a reason, even if that reason is they don't have one. Has the author kept you in a constant point-of-view (POV) with clearly defined POV shifts. Emotional relationship to a character is strengthened by a consistent POV. The story, if not linear in time, should give mileposts to keep you informed.

4. Is the setting realistic and actions consistent with the time period? Would you consider it disturbing if characters drank Tab before it came into being and/or watched color TV before its invention. That occurred in K. Sockett's bestselling The Help.

Considering the above points, what would your review consist of?

1. Go beyond "I liked the book." There should be many connection points in the book.

     a.  You can connect on a geographical level. The book takes place in your neighborhood or a place you visited. The protagonist is a Navy Seal, like you are or were. The neighbor bakes apple pie. You love to eat apple pie and just adore the smell of cinnamon.

     b.  You can connect on a personal human emotional level. You cry, laugh, or both.

     c.  Your passion is stirred. If not to action, you pound your fist on the table when crooks swindle the sweet older person out of a life's savings. You agree that the death penalty is wrong or that government is too big and taxes unfairly. You might even attend the next civic rally, or vote.

     d.  You agree with the author on an intellectual point. You understand the science.

     e.  You can't find any character depth. You're run across the stereotype before.

2. Articulate how the book made you feel and if it in any way changed your life, either permanently or temporarily.  If it didn't, was it merely a great time "passer."  Any book unliked at first reading can become an educational tool for a later read.

    To be continued....

    Referenced cautions: 1. You may be asked to do a review to snare an e-mail address and never receive any further reply. 2.  If you save ninety-nine cents ($.99) or more by doing a review, be honest and keep your integrity even if you feel compelled to "be nice" for the free book. You're not doing the author a favor, but building resentment against him or her by future readers. Visit Author's Website Read an excerpt of all Donan Berg novels at using their inside the book feature.

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