Since this is my blog and my three readers occasionally don’t mind me speaking random thoughts I’m going to post some ideas, thoughts, and opinions that I’ve been discussing in MSN with some people. You, lucky readers, can feel free to ignore at your will.
I was given a link to a new review site that will soon be posting reviews from an editorial point of view. Cerebral Reviews – check it out. Looks interesting, however, I get the feeling that this will be another Dear Author type review site that is bitchy and entertaining, yet informative. Really, I like some of the reviewers on Dear Author and find their reviews thorough, informative, and intelligent. It may be snarky and funny but most don’t seem to mind and in fact, enjoy the snark. So this new site should be interesting as the new Editor point of view reviews.
I really like the idea of an editor review as I make no claims to knowing what is great editing. I focus on the story itself and less about the composition so when I have to mention negative aspects about head hoping, spelling, or editing errors? You know it’s bad if even I can see it. I, like most reviewers, am reviewing from a reader perspective on what worked and what didn’t for me based on a context of being a voracious reader of numerous genres. This is true for almost every single reviewer within the e-book world from small sites to even online publications that all base their reviews on reaction. This goes into the fact that there is no training or qualifications to be a reviewer, all that matters is you like to read and have an opinion. So the idea of a quasi-professional review site that focuses on how the book is presented is good and I think very necessary in this swamp land of emotional reaction reviews.
I worry some that this bunch has an agenda as the site claims to offer honest reviews but seems to equate honest with bitchiness and cutting remarks instead of simply laying out the mistakes. I hope that the point of staying anonymous is not to further any sort of grievances, favorites or hated books. I do believe most review sites start out honestly wanting to give an opinion but then morph into something else due to the attitude, climate, or purpose of those within. The fact that they will review other’s reviews is unfortunate and setting them up to be some authority on the situation, which is unattainable given the lack of credentials due to the inherent anonymous tag. I can only hope this doesn’t come to fruition as no matter what you, I, or the readers think of a review it’s in no way acceptable to publically step by step critique another review.
Not going off on too much of a tangent but let’s focus on this point for just a second because I was slightly shocked and appalled at the audacity of a site to criticize other reviews. Now, there are no doubt problems with spelling, grammar, editing, and word verbiage within my reviews. Did you know I LOVE commas? That the more commas in a review mean the more stars? But beyond my reviews which I stand by, reviews that I loathe are there for a purpose. They offer a reader perspective and it’s not up to me, the author, or anyone else to criticize how that person expressed an opinion by tearing apart their review. If you want to say it was poorly written or snarky or uneducated, all of those may be true, but how does that invalidate someone’s opinion? You can disagree with an opinion, point out facts why it’s wrong, show how the person is a hypocrite—but it’s an opinion. You can’t invalidate a review by tearing it apart so the exercise is simply meant to embarrass and thus has no point to exist. It takes some arrogance and cruelty to tear apart someone’s work for entertainment purposes. I feel the same way for authors and books.
The more I read about this new site, the more I worry that it’s an exercise in criticizing others, whether they’re readers, reviewers, authors, or publishers. When your sole purpose is to point out how terrible others are in the name of honesty, why hide behind an anonymous tag to stay impartial? Just by your purpose you’re not impartial and considering the fact that online is largely made up of pseudonyms, even making a new one doesn’t change the factors that may influence a person. Changing to a new anonymous name just gives you another outlet to say things without consequence or care and considering these editors likely already have anonymous online names, the need for another sparks concern.
I hope this site actually offers honest and thoughtful introspection. However, they’ve set themselves up already with the following line: “They are irreverent, honest, and willing to do something very few reviewers will do… tell the truth about a book.”
Snarky doesn’t equal truth so here’s to hoping.
*Just as I was going to post this on my blog today, I noticed that the site has it’s first review up which is a m/f romance from Amber Quill reviewed. I found the review decent without any snark at all and covered the basics, heavy on the editing portion. While it seems overall the reviewer mostly enjoyed the book reviewed and the review intelligent and thorough from the grammar portion, it wasn’t anything that hasn’t been done before in reviews. Interesting. Be sure to judge for yourself.