The Soul of a Reviewer

by on Aug.31, 2012, under Observations, Reviews

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of other reviewers last night that really got me thinking. Several of them admitted that they didn’t stop to think about whether or not they enjoyed the piece they were reading–they were too busy looking for things to critique as done well or badly.

Although I totally respect the work that both of these reviewers do, I feel that it is important that as a reviewer I don’t forget what the reader cares about.

One of the essential things to remember is that a reader is reading to be entertained. They have no objective beyond enjoyment or learning, in both the passive and active senses. The most important thing about reviewing should be looking at the story from this point of view.

If I am reviewing a piece of work, and I don’t approach it with the intent to be entertained, then I am doing the reader a disservice. While it may be important to note that an author did or did not achieve some technical objective, the most important part of a review is to answer: is this book likely to entertain the reader?

Obviously, it’s impossible to such a subjective question for all possible readers. But I feel that it is the goal that we as reviewers should always strive for. Almost any technical matter within the work is less important than this essential question.

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