As I stated in a previous post, when reviewing books I am not interested in giving them a score. You can get that at Amazon or on half a dozen other blogs. A score is an abstract methodology that really doesn’t work for me, because it feels too limiting. I prefer to talk about what I like and don’t like about the title, and let my readers decide whether or not they agree with me.
I have a “laundry list” of things I’m looking for when I read a book. For the basis of my review, what I do is ask a series of questions that have been grouped together in a common heading, and then I answer those questions based on my perceptions. The review evolves out of this process. The list looks a little something like the following:
Pacing & Structure
Does the story move along quickly or bog down in details? Are details lost because the story moves too fast? Are the chapters too long or too short? Are there multiple viewpoints, and how does the book handle transitions between them?
Do you feel empathy for the characters and care what happens to them? How do the main characters change throughout the story? Do all the characters have the same voice? Do they show a variety of emotions? Are the characters underdogs or overly-powerful? What are the characters’ motivations? Do their motivations justify their actions?
Do you have a good idea of what places look like? Does there seem to be a detailed history or backstory? How is the history/backstory presented? How much detail is in the surroundings…terrain, weather, auditory? How does magic work? Is there a religious pantheon? How is travel handled? Do you have a good feel for how time passes?
Is the threat to the characters credible, and their response believable? What is the motivation of the opposition? How did the opposition become so powerful? Why is the opposition suddenly presenting itself to the characters now?
Plot and Overall Impressions
Is it too alien or metaphysical? Is Deus Ex Machina used for the characters to overcome the opposition? Are there twists and turns I didn’t see coming, or was it too predictable? Is the plot too complex, or perhaps too simple? Was the ending satisfying or was it anti-climatic? Would I read the book again, and when? Was the author’s prose appealing or jarring? Did the author take risks by introducing new, fresh ideas, or did they play it safe with a bucketful of tropes and cliches?
I hope that gives you a feel for how I approach a review.