Answer: Someone who knew what they were doing
Yes, they are in fact called “book reviews” for a reason. They are supposed to be reviews of books.
Say it with me: “Of books.”
What are they not reviews of?
Talking about fiction here.
This whole “book review = review of a book” thing seems like a no-brainer, but too often I read reviews where people criticize the author’s intelligence. While not every tiny thing about a fiction work may be factually correct as determined on Earth under our living conditions, here’s the thing. It’s fiction. Yes, common facts should be correct. Authors need to do their research, but if they change something to fit their fictional world, that’s their choice. This does not make them stupid. In the case of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) this might make a world.
Regardless, however, there is no place for “this author is an idiot” in a book review. That is called attacking, and that is not the point of reviews. If you’re going to review a book, review the damn book. Don’t spend 200 words going on about how stupid the author is. All that does is make you look dumb, jealous, or both. Then you lose your credibility as a reviewer (because no one likes a complainer), and no one feels bad for your loss of credibility. After all, you’re the idiot who decided to attack people where it wasn’t called for.
“But the author messed up. What am I supposed to say?”
Try these alternatives to “this author is clearly a moron.”
-I’m wondering if this part of the book was researched enough.
-I couldn’t get into the story because there were a lot of small details that bugged me.
-The world building/characters/whatever could have been tightened.
“But these don’t let me get out my massive amounts of anger about the author getting stuff wrong.”
Really? Then I suggest you seriously reevaluate why you are reviewing and possibly see an anger management specialist.
So, reviewers, be nice, and as much as it pains me to say this, authors, pay attention to your manuscripts. Being called stupid, an idiot, a moron, or any other name in a review is never justifiable. Period. On that note, though, readers aren’t stupid either. They notice things. Someone once described reading as reader and author entering into an unspoken contract to appreciate one story. Readers know when that contract is broken, and they do not react well. So next week, I’m going to work on unraveling what brings reviewers to the place where they feel the need to call an author stupid.
As always, thanks for reading.
@desantismt on Twitter
-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog