Postcard For Reader + TIME

The art of critical reviewing.

Originally, today's post was going to be a review of Eliot Schrefer's Endangered; I got halfway through and it's beautifully written and I'm a little emotional because I really love animals. But one of my friends decided to visit, so I got sucked into watching him troll 'World of Tanks' all night.

Don't ask.

But I wanted to put up a post for today, and as he was trolling, I started thinking about some of the troll blogs I've seen out there, and then I started thinking about blogs in general. I really like the blogosphere. I spend to much time linking to things not to love it.

But there has been an art lost lately of a critical review; many of us just gush over the things we love and skip over the things we don't, and while that's okay, it's not productive for the blogosphere and for writing in the long run.

Now, this isn't to say that there's something wrong with simply gushing over the things you like; that is what makes us fans first and critics second. But it's important to note that critical reviews are fading fast as people get more and more access to the blogosphere; where books used to be valued on their writing and their plot, they're now valued surely on squee-value.

This isn't to say that every blog bases on squee-value or that there's anything wrong with that; I love a book that can make me flail and squee as much as the next person. Same for movies and television shows.

But as reviewers, I think it's important to note that's not the only type of review that we have to do; we may be 'just bloggers,' but it means that other have access to our thoughts and, in some cases, take them very seriously.

Critical reviews are helpful. They strengthen the industry, because our reviews reflect what people want; if we want strong writing and well-developed plots and interesting premises, that's what we'll get. If we want paranormal and dystopians with alpha-male main characters lining down the block ready to scoop us up and run away with us - despite our ability to run ourselves - that's what we'll get.

It's important to note that a critical review doesn't equal a bad review; it's simply a review that doesn't look at your feelings after you've read it and actually looks into the story. It's like the difference between writing a paper in your first grade class and your tenth grade class. In one, you talk about what you loved; in the other, you discuss the logistics of writing and symbolism and plot. Knowing that somebody loves a book is great and enough to get me to pick it up; knowing the logistics of why is even better.

Critical reviews help both good books and bad books; if bad, it's a reflection on what we didn't like, what we'd like to see strengthened in the publishing industry. If good, it shows what we do like and what we want to see more of.

And it doesn't take too much energy. Thinking about why we like things instead of just talking about the fact that we do is all it takes. I like feminist stories, ones that subvert patriarchal ideas; I like well-rounded plots where every character matters at the end of the story; I hate insta-love; I like writing that reads lyrically.

I can discuss why and where it came into effect in the stories I read, and it's something I'd like to see a lot more of on other blogs; a lot of the reviews I read are one or two paragraphs long, and I'd like to know more about why bloggers thought the way they did.

It helps the readers, it helps the industry, it helps our blogs.

What do you think about critical reviews?

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The art of critical reviewing. + TIME