It seems book reviewers on the Internet don’t understand anymore what a book review is. It’s not your rehashing of the storyline/plot. I hate reading those. They’re like a grade school “book report”. They’re no substance and all spoiler—claiming to be an educated review—ill-gotten, ill-told. A book review is a sensitive, cognizant writeup about what works in the book and what doesn’t and why; atmosphere and insights; the presence (or lack thereof) of character development; &tc.
It can be a commercial book review—think the “New York Times Book Review”—which better answer the question: ‘Uh, why should I buy this book again?”. Or it can be a critical book review (critical as in critical theory as in done by a literary critic like Harold Bloom or Christopher Hitchens or Joyce Carol Oates or Cynthia Ozick)—think the “New York Review of Books”—which better answer the questions: 1) ‘Why should I read this book?’; 2) ‘Why should I respect this book?’; 3) ‘Why does this piece of writing matter in the scheme of other pieces of writing in the history of fiction?’ 4) ‘How does the story work? And Why? &tc.
Attached are cover images of the more academically-driven New York Review of Books, and its Urbanite cousin the New York Times Book Review. And below is 1) A link to a review of a Harold Bloom book by the more sales-driven “New York Times Book Review”; and 2) A link to a book review of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridien by Harold Bloom. (And an FYI link to an article about Bloom who passed away May 2017). Of course this post will not stop the plot-summary-driven drivel that dribbles like drool all over the Internet—disguising itself as official “Book Reviews”. But I feel better having pointed it out. We should all strive to read and “understand” books in their context as art and popular culture, and then write reviews that are meaningful for writers and readers alike. ✌️📚💡