Whenever I'm looking for a new book to read the first thing I do is read through it's reviews. Usually I skim through a few that gave it a high score and then find at least one that gave it a low score. I think sometimes the reviewers who give a book only two or three stars are the ones who say the most about what I want to know, "will I want to keep reading?" Sometimes those are the most valuable reviews to me. I try to keep this in mind when I write my reviews.
Very simply, when I review, a book that I give 5 stars is a book I couldn’t put down. The plot of the story really is everything for me. I take note of editing, clichés, voice, all of that. But, at the end of the day what I consider a good book is one that I want to read.Now on that note, there have been some books that I couldn’t put down that didn’t have the greatest writing. Twilight is a good example of this. The story sucked me in and I gave Twilight 4 stars, however this does not mean I consider Stephanie Meyer a “great writer,” she’s not, but she told a wonderfully intriguing story. Twilight wasn’t completely original, it didn’t have amazing imagery, but I couldn’t put it down. It made me want to read more. I was enthralled in the plot even despite some weak sentence structure and overused phrases.
So I don’t review writing, I review stories. In contrast to Twilight I recently read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. I think she is a much better writer then Stephanie Meyer, still not the “greatest writer,” but better. She had wonderful imagery in this book even though it was more descriptive then lyrical, and less clichés; but I gave Under the Never Sky 3 stars because I found the plot had a slow start, lackluster ending, and overall needed to be more concise. At the end of this book I didn’t want to read its sequel, and I won’t. Veronica Rossi has some writing skill, but she didn’t tell a story that made me want to keep reading.
Some of the stories I find I like the most are written by indie authors. They don’t have the best editing and often read a little rough, but some have wonderful story lines. Samantha Young’s Fire Spirits series is a perfect example of this. I hated some of the language in the first book, Smokeless Fire. Juvenile words like “Sooo,” were annoying. But, her characters were deep, well developed, and the story line was amazing. I’ve so far given this series 4 stars and will continue reading it.
What I think makes a good book is more than good grammar. I seek good stories; I want a good plot and compelling dialogue. Good writing and good editing are very important. I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t find these two things crucial. They are just not what I’m reviewing when I look at a book. I review the story, not the author. I will always comment on my pet peeves in my reviews, but there are enough people out there reviewing on some systematic scale where they break down what they think makes a good book. This is wonderfully consistent, but to me it doesn’t necessarily tell me what I want to know about a book, and that is “Will I want to keep reading?”