Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review or Critique, Which is it?

Budroe over at Writing.com has written a really wonderful article about the difference between reviewing a book and critiquing it.

I think this is something EVERY book blogger should check out.

Budroe goes in depth on the difference between the Review, in which one looks at the qualities of a book from a reader's standpoint, vs. the Critique, in which one examines a book from the viewpoint and expertise of a writer.

Obviously I write reviews.

I am in no way qualified to give any writer an in depth critique of their work... nor would I want to. Everything I write and rate on my blog is based purely on my own opinion as a reader, and each review is a description of what I took away from the book (as well as usually a list of characters and who they were, just for my own sake of having one somewhere... you have no idea how hard it is to find comprehensive lists of characters -_-)

When I write a review, unless there is something technically jarring (and it's got to be pretty darn jarring for me to notice it), I usually won't mention it. I sometimes talk about how well the prose flow, but for me, that's part of the reading experience. I'll also sometimes mention something technical, writing-wise, that pulls me out of a story, but again, it was part of the reading experience for me, so I mention it.

I do this for fun, and I do this for myself... to have a journal of what I've read with more detail jotted down than I likely would have remembered just from recall a few years later.

I don't network my blog to get my stuff seen, I do it because being connected to all of these other readers and authors offers me a wider perspective on what is being released, and what is going on in the literary world. I've learned about dozens and dozens of books that I'm pretty sure I never would have heard of or looked at, and it's all because of book blogging.

I am eternally grateful to the blogging community for helping me stay connected, for keeping up on the trends, and for keeping up on news that I just don't have the time to always seek out myself.

Also, just as a side note, I found this article because it was linked to a manga review in which someone left a comment slamming the reviewer, saying:
Was this written by a preteen? There’s no critical view, no actual structure or argument or thesis, just “i like this” and “then this happened, then this happened, ooh those characters look naughty.” It’s posts like this which make it difficult to take HU seriously, especially the slew of scornful posts on Eddie Campbell’s critical abilities. Not that I agree with Campbell but how is HU any different in being fanboying dressed up as criticism? Certianly not with insipid posts like this.

Now, for me, when I read reviews, I want to hear the "I like this" and the fanboy/girling... for me, that's what reviews are about, public opinions... and that's why I think Budroe's article on review vs. critique is so good... it really points it all out in a very concise way.

I think it is up to us as readers and bloggers to get to know the people who are writing these blog reviews, so that we can better judge how well their opinions mesh with our own.


  1. I think the reviews I write are a little bit of both, and that in part says a lot about how I read. I notice things like technical presentation, language, style, etc. I've enjoyed books that are lacking in technical prowess but never as much as those that excel. So for me, part of what I enjoy in a book is good prose--not just good story. That said, I don't think anyone should denigrate reviewers who go on gut, because things like mechanics aren't going to matter to everyone! What's great about book blogging is you can get so many perspectives on one book.


    1. Well, right, I get more enjoyment from books that are well written too, lol. I also mention technical aspects when there's something well done, or poorly done in a book... but I don't try to offer the author an in-depth critique of how they should have done things... or really pick apart their choices/style.

      I think you can still be writing "reviews" vs. "critiques" and be able to give a well formulated, educated response to what you've read.

      Reviews that say things like, "This book didn't work for me, it was just total crap." and leave it at that always irk me. Obviously the reader has a reason, be it "I just don't like the topic" or "It was so poorly written I could hardly tell who was talking".

      Mostly though, when I want a technical critique of a book, I'm not going to turn to the average book blogger. I want to find people with an informed, qualified voice, so I purposefully seek them out.

      I'm mostly just saying that when it comes to book blogging, I think it's unfair to expect a book critique rather than a review, because most of us aren't qualified to give an in-depth critique... and mostly, this was all sparked by that one jerk's comment.

  2. Whoa, that comment is pretty snotty! I agree, I love to see what people liked and didn't like in a book review. When I am reading other book blog reviews, I want to get a sense about whether I would like the book or not. And that is a very personal feeling. I don't care about a critique of a book. If it flows well, if the characters are well developed, if the story is great, then I'm happy.

    1. Exactly! If I want a critique, I will purposefully seek one out.

      I do love informed reviews, especially ones where the writer draws comparisons between the book their reviewing and other books they've read... but in the end, I still want their opinion on the book.

      Mostly, because if I'm truly following a reviewer's blog, then I've already done my research on them and know that their opinion on books aligns with my own... so I know if they enjoy a book, I probably will too.

  3. All of my reviews are of the "I like this" variety and those are the ones I like reading. Heading over to the article, thanks for posting about it!

  4. I think I like to read a variety of blogging styles. Some of the reviews I read are more personal and about what a reader liked or didn't. Others are more technical and delve into literary criticism. It depends a lot on you as a reader, doesn't it?

    1. The point of this was more the difference between a review and a critique. To me, what you're really saying is that you enjoy reading both reviews and critiques. As do I.

      My point was more that most of us aren't qualified to give an author a critique... so I'm not going to turn to your average book blogger to look for one. I'm going to seek out someone who has the credentials to give one.

      When it comes to book bloggers, I turn to them for the "emotional response" to a book. Yes, I do love reading a good "critique" as well... but I was just saying that I think it's unfair to go to a blog and expect a critique of a work (and then to berate them in a reply comment), since to me, that's not what book blogging is about when it comes to your average book blog.

  5. yes there is def a difference between a review and a critique. both are great but i think everyone has their own style and i should not have to be forced to write in a way that is not natural to me.

    fishgirl182 @ read now sleep later