When I first started blogging, I decided that I wasn't going to grade the books I read and reviewed on a bell curve. I'm perfectly satisfied to give a ton of A level reviews; likewise, I'm just as happy to give a D or F review if that's what I honestly think the book deserves. If anything, my reviews tend to be pretty polarized- I either like a book or I don't, and if a book is mediocre or not grabbing my interest then I tend to put it down and, by extension, not review it.
With that said, then, one thing that I've found very hard to do is to review books that I absolutely loved. Not just really enjoyed, would recommend to others, but books that literally leave me speechless, that I immediately start planning who I will give them to as gifts. Although I enjoy a lot of books, and a wide variety of books at that, there aren't a ton of books that really stand out to me as droolworthy, utterly amazing, not a thing I would change fantastic. That's not a bad thing- I'm a firm believer that having an opinion on a book means you were paying attention while you were reading, and having a book grab me so strongly that I couldn't put it down is basically the highest praise I can give.
Maybe the difficulty comes from having to articulate what, specifically, happened or didn't happen that made a book so special. Putting excellence into words isn't necessarily an easy task, especially when you're talking about a book that not a lot of other people have read. Avoiding spoilers is such a challenge some times!
Sometimes, though, reviewing a book that it seems like everyone has read is more of a challenge. What do you say that hasn't been said already? How do you make your review stand out from the rest of the pack?
The easiest way I've found to get through the quagmire of writing cohesive but unique reviews of really excellent books is to focus on one specific element of the story that stood out. Maybe it was a story element- great settings, unique characters, or something like that. Many times for me it's really sparkling, witty dialogue- if you write good dialogue and your characters have personality, I want to read your book.
Whatever it may have been that made you a devotee of the book in question, that's the thing to share with other people. I find it's hard to give plot summaries of truly excellent books without giving the entire story away; if I try to lure people in by sharing a single facet of the book, I end up being a lot more satisfied with my final review.
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