I never know how to write a decent book review, but it’s something I think about a bunch. I mean, I want YOU to review MY books, right? But when it’s my turn to review someone else’s, I don’t even know where to start. So, in the strange moments between sleep and waking, I began devising a formula. Different categories, scored separately and then averaged. This is way more involved than my current “Neato/Poopy” reviewing system. It’s also not complete. Still needs some fine tuning.
Originality of plot: Are the vampires fighting werewolves? Is there trouble at wizard school? Did zombies take over a shopping mall? I might not award many stars in this category for books like that. Did the ghost of Jack Kevorkian possess a Christmas tree angel and poison the neighbor’s boa constrictor? You might have yourself 5 stars in this category.
Character depth: Do I know what the main characters feel and why they feel it? Are they fallible? Are they close-minded about some things and in complete denial of others? Lazy? Overweight? Too skinny? Bad teeth? A weird thumb? Mispronounce certain words consistently? If so, you might get a 5/5 in this category!
Genre success: If it’s a horror book, did it scare me? If it’s fantasy, did it fill me with wonder? If it’s sci-fi, did it blow me a way with crazy sci-fi stuff? If it’s a humor book, did I laugh?
Appropriate gore: Were the blood and guts appropriate to the story? Did they fall short or go over the top? For example, Harry Potter was suspiciously deficient of flying entrails. Oh, sure, I know what you’re saying: “Brent, that book was for kids and young adults! No guts needed!” Well, check again, Poindexter. That may have been the intended audience, but are you really gonna stand there and tell me Voldemort didn’t slowly bleed out lesser members of his own crew to A) derive power from their sacrifice, and B) make an example to keep everyone else in line? And then, decorate his inner lair with skulls instead of balloons and guts strung from corner to corner like it was a birthday party at Hannibal Lecter’s house?
Secondary realism: The main plot is fantastical, certainly. At least, if I’m reading the book, it probably is. What about the lesser stuff? Did your character lose their keys? FOREVER? Did someone make a mess caulking the bathtub, and in doing so ruined the good towels? Did some kid get lost in the woods and no hero showed up to save them? Did someone good do something ugly? Did someone get off scot free who deserved to be gutted? Sometimes the Joker has diarrhea, and he has to decide if he’s gonna go home and wait it out or walk through those bank doors right there and begin a ten hour standoff with Gotham PD and some jerk in a bat costume. He can’t go to the bathroom once the bank siege has started, he’ll crap his pants for sure! And what if it smells like fish again? Because he hasn’t had fish in months, and if it smells like that again he needs to call his physician, Dr. Feldstein, right away. And don’t you DARE laugh at that! Butt health is nothing to take lightly, guys.
Setting detail: Self explanatory.
Well, that’s a work in progress. Maybe someday I’ll come up with a fully realized book reviewing formula based in part on the preceding notes. Until then, I think I’ll eat the rest of the Nutella in this jar and then eat the next jar down far enough that the Wife won’t suspect a thing. I know what you’re saying: “Why not just forget the open jar, eat the new jar, and get rid of it when it’s empty?” What you’re asking makes sense, of course. But you gotta keep ’em rotated, you know? Keep the fresh one open. Otherwise, the open jar never gets touched, and the Nutella goes bad. You ever see bad Nutella? No, you haven’t. Believe me, cupcake, you don’t WANT to.