recently got a review published (for Craig Rogers’ forthcoming novel, DRIFT; you can read the review here) and it’s got me thinking a little bit more about the genre. i feel like reviews are, hands down, kind of the hardest thing in the world to write – there’s a real tough balance to be struck, trying to get the subjective experience of reading a book down in words that someone else might find interesting. it’s much harder than writing fiction, that’s for sure – why you like something is really hugely subjective, and trying to convey what it is that you (so subjectively) enjoyed about something in a way that someone else might find useful is tough! plus there’s the pressure of wanting to convince someone that they ought to spend some of their precious reading time on this particular book…it can be stressful!
i’ve written a few reviews now, something that i very deliberately am trying to do more of, both because of the challenge of it and also because they’re something i like to read. i’ve been lucky because a) there’s actually a LOT of places out there that’ll happily swarp up any and all reviews you can write, so you get the satisfaction of having your stuff out there on a website with readers and all, and b) there’re so many books being published that i can be picky about getting just good books to review.
my three reviews (you can find ’em over on the WRITINGS section of this here website) have all been uniformly positive, which is a much pleasanter thing to write than a hatchet job. i’ve only once written a bad review, a piece i’ve mislaid on a website that is now gone about a couple of solarpunk collections from years ago, and the only reason i wrote the review was because the collection, ostensibly about imagining more egalitarian and just futures that included the environment and non-human agency in their visions, was shockingly eco-fascist. LOTS of authoritarian and downright gleeful wallowing in how THOSE PEOPLE were all PUNISHED and FORCED to live BETTER LIVES. extremely off-putting, extremely not what i was expecting at the time, and extremely dangerous, in my view. i feel like that’s the only reason i’d write a bad review, honestly – if there was something vile or fascist or duplicitous like that, hiding in a text. if i just didn’t like a book, or found it boring or something, i’d probably just ignore it.
i’ll probably try and write more reviews – i’ve got a couple of electronic ARCs from some writers i like, and what i’ve read so far suggests that they’re right up my alley. i feel like maybe an answer to the fraught feeling of reviews is to just do a lot of ’em, as a way to illustrate that they’re just, like, my opinions, man.