Top 5 things I need from reviews: do you agree?

Top 5 Things I need from Book Reviews

Reviews. I’ve been thinking about the ones I read in media — newspapers, magazines and the like as well as the ones from the fabulousness that is the blogosphere and how they’re different and what I find I want from reviews in general as a reader:

Long reviews

Hear me out: I am a temperamental long review reader. Some days, I am happy to meander through an author’s history and how it influenced their writing and other days, I just want to know what the book is about. Β I find online newspapers and magazines are the biggest culprits. It’s a big part of the reason I look for user reviews than “official” reviews these days. They just don’t give me what I want.

But, if there is a long review I do enjoy, it’s one that tells me the details of the story without spoiling it for me — the pacing, the characters I hate and will love to hate, the plot and the contrivances or the joy that comes with a lack of those and something that is simply an excellent plot.

Characters

I need to know, like I said above, the ones I will hate or love to hate, but moreΒ that that, I need to know if these characters are relatable — and even the most gruesome story has t have characters readers can relate to, right?

Consistency is something else that’s important to me — do characters swerve to cater to a plot change or does the plot help the characters evolve?

Plot

This one I’m torn about, but the thing is, sometimes, I need a plot overview because the blurb gives me nothing. And, these days I sometimes feel like that happens more often than not (sadly).

Pacing

This is one that’s growing in importance to me — I somehow came across a spate of books whose pacing turned me off the book entirely, and made me ruthless about DNF-ing. Because I really do have better things to read than forcing myself to slog through the slowest book in the world.

You

Last, I need to know if it left you in a sobbing wreck by the end or tense and grinding your teeth (in a good way) as you read through to the conclusion. Is that weird? I can’t decide, but I do know if a book has you doing anything — including being utterly giddy and gushing (in whatever way you do so) — then it’s worth adding to my TBR.

So, what about you? What do you need from book reviews?

19 Comments

  • I’m kind of a temperamental long review reader too, but I tend to like them, at least for books I’m actually interested in. I tend to read a lot of reviews for deciding on books when possible because I generally know what types of things I like or dislike, and I want to know if this book has got those things. So I’m more than willing to read through a long review if I’m interested in a book and this review is telling me all those types of things like you mentioned (plot, characters, pacing, romance, etc.).

    And for the most part I don’t like reviews that explain plots because that’s there in the blurb, but I agree there are definitely times when the blurb is vague or makes no sense, and in those cases I do look for reviews that explain what the book is actually about. And if I review a book that I’ve noticed has one of those kinds of blurbs, I’ll try to explain in my review.

    But what I’ve noticed in all my reading of reviews is that I don’t need every single thing to be mentioned because, for example, if every review talks about how great and action-packed the plot is but none of them talks about the characters at all, to me that means the characters didn’t stand out and probably weren’t super developed. Like, the review doesn’t need to say that explicitly because the fact that it’s not mentioned at all already tells me that.

    Sorry, this is getting to be a super long comment lol, but one more thing. I like when reviews are as specific as possible. For example, saying, “The characters were great!” doesn’t mean that much to me because your idea of great might be different from mine. Why were they great? What kind of personality did they have? That’s more helpful, though I know I’m guilty of the “They were great!” thing sometimes myself lol.

    • Verushka says:

      You’re right, a review can tell you a whole heap of things with what it doesn’t say. And, part of me is wondering if the longer meandering reviews in online newspapers etc are because the book is bad lol Do I need all the elements in a book review? I don’t know, it kind of depends on the book I think — if a blurb is vague, and if I’m of two minds about a book, I think I need as much as possible to make up my mind.

    • Oh well thank you very much my dear friend K!

      K is always there for me [lol! yup it’s all about me πŸ™‚ ]

      Here I was feeling all down because i don’t go into the plot too and then… Oh look K commented here too. Let’s see what she says πŸ™‚ Yup I feel the same. The blurb is enough for me. I don’t know how I feel about you making me feel lazy about the characters though. I’ll have to think about it. Humph

  • OMG I’m so glad I found you Verushka. For some reason there was no link to a website on the first comment you left on my blog or it didn’t work. I did try finding you using your google account but I guess I AM A GOOD DETECTIVE LOL!

    First let me say… WOW I love your blog!

    Second.. I see you like almost the same genres I like [except crime, for some reason it’s hard for me to get through crime books] so I just sent you a GR friend request SO I CAN FIND YOU NOW. Think before you accept it because there will be no hiding anymore πŸ™‚

    HA! After reading this I have to say even more thanks for visiting my reviews. I think I may be not meeting some of the standards, like the plot one. I usually don’t like to talk about the plot much. BUT I MAY BE GOOD AT THE LAST ONE!!! YAY! I do tend to make lots of emphasis on how the book makes me feel. See you soon. Hopefully.

    • Verushka says:

      Hiiiii! You are a good detective! And thank you for your kind words on my blog πŸ™‚ Bloggers all have their own types of reviews, and I count myself lucky to be reading ones likes yours that give some of these elements.

  • WOW! I just realized you are maleficent too Verushka ! how about that huh? Ok I promise I’m leaving now. No more monopolizing your comments section. πŸ™‚

  • Greg says:

    This is nice. And I agree- I get more out of a good blogosphere review these days than out of a magazine or online review that’s trying to be all nifty or wordsmith-y. I mean come on, they’re book reviews. πŸ™‚ Am I gonna like the thing? lol that’s all i really want to know. Not that I don’t try to write well, because I do, but I’ve found too that my reviewing has changed as I’ve blogged longer. I try not to recap as much and give more insight into the characters or what it’s really about. A review that just says “I really liked this, it’s greeeaaaat” doesn’t really help you know?

    Not that the personal reaction isn’t important. Characters and their relatability are big for me too. Reviews that go into that are much appreciated. But I generally like a long review as long as it’s a book I’m seriously considering. that can make or break for me whether I get the book!

    • Verushka says:

      Exactly — there’s so much you get from a blog review than other ones — was it always like that? I can’t recall. The personal reaction is a big thing for me, but I do need some of the other goodness I described above to give it context.

  • Krystianna says:

    I look for all of these too! I know some people are iffy about the plot part–I’ve heard some people say that they like the Goodreads blurb more. I usually put the Goodreads blurb and then also explain in my own words what happened, because sometimes I find that a bit more interesting. I also try to include GIFs a lot to include my thoughts, haha.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    • Verushka says:

      I would love to use more GIFs but I can’t get them to work on my blog for some reason! Or Goodreads lol I think they’re a great addition to a review!

  • Suzanne says:

    Great post topic! I look for all of these things too and try to always incorporate them into my reviews. Sometimes I’m more successful than others, but I always try anyway, haha.

    I guess it’s a pet peeve but I tend to be put off by really short reviews – like the review is shorter than the book blurb. I get not wanting to give away too many spoilers, but I at least need some kind of teaser that makes me want to go get the book for myself. I’m especially big on wanting to know something about those main characters. Am I going to love them, hate them, be able to connect with them at all, whatever…

    • Verushka says:

      You’re right a too short review can be annoying as a long meandering one — I mean we’re reading the review because we want to know what the blogger thinks right? It’s the same as a too vague book blurb — I’m like GIVE ME SOMETHING To like this book! Yeah, IA we need to know what the connection the blogger felt to those characters.

  • Love this! First, I TOTALLY agree with you about user reviews (and especially trusted blogger reviews!) meaning SO much more than general reviews. They’re just so… uninformative! I know they’re supposed to be that way, to an extent, but I have no sense of WHY the reviewer liked or disliked it, like you said! Now, I don’t like to know much about a plot going in- I don’t even read synopses 99% of the time- but I like to know a lot of the things you mentioned. Did the plot move at a good pace? Did things make sense? Etc. And characters are SO key. But for me, the biggest one is your last one- the reader’s experience. And sure, that is super subjective, but I know that going in. I am still WAY more likely to be interested in the book if someone was deeply impacted by it! Oh, and I need to be entertained, because my attention span is not great πŸ˜‰

    • Verushka says:

      If a reader is giddy in their review? It’s one I’m making note of — even if it’s a review that’s made out of gifs of characters smiling. That sort of happiness makes me want to know more. That deep impact? totally need to know it!

  • I personally agree with all of these! I am a reviewer who likes to explain and hit on a lot of topics. Plot, characters/character development, beginning, climax, ending (though those are plot, but I talk about them separately), pacing, romance <— I try to make sure that I say something about all of those, in each review. Which makes for a very long review. πŸ˜€ But the longer, the better, because of more detail! And of course, I'll always talk about if I actually enjoyed the book, or hated it, or felt gutted, etc. That's the most important thing, to me!

    Great post, Verushka! Have a lovely week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  • AngelErin says:

    I agree with the characters for sure. Like I need to know if the characters will drive me crazy, make me angry, cry, or if they are terrible. I also agree with the “You” part you have on here also. I think that’s my most important thing. I can read reviews from magazines and what not telling me that a book is “an edge of your seat stunning thriller” or whatever! But I want to see what my blogger friends think. Especially if it’s someone that we have a lot of books in common I want to know how they felt by the end overall. If that makes any sense lol. πŸ˜‚

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