The integrity of The Book Review has been demolished by too many reviewers who use the book review space as a personal venting venue, whether it’s to beat an author with one-star reviews because s/he said something in public that annoyed people, or to slap an author with a once-star review because the F word appeared on too many pages.
Unfortunately, there’s really no way to stop the bad-review assaults written by people with personal vendettas, but it is possible to improve the quality of book reviews – making them truly helpful to other potential readers – by answering a short, simple set of questions while writing the review.
First, some examples of what not to do. Consider the following reviews pulled directly from Amazon:
“Don’t waste your money. Justin Bieber needs a more supportive family not so self absorbed, he seems like a nice person to bad he does not have a solid support system.” – One-star review of Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom
“She is putting her story out there and being vulnerable to the people who love her and follow her that is a very personable thing to do . I love her more for it” – Five-star review of Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom
I have no idea whether I want to read Pattie Mallette’s book based on these reviews. What I do know is that one person feels bad for Justin Bieber and his apparently lacking support system, and another really likes Justin Bieber’s mom. These are valid emotions, but they’re not book reviews. Neither does anything to help a person make a purchasing decision.