I wrote my first book review on Amazon recently – my review of the first novel written by our very Chandler’s Ford writer Brenda Sedgwick. Her novel is called Marriage A Journey And A Dog.
I pondered for a few days before publishing my review. I was cautious because I didn’t actually understand the Amazon community. I wondered who might read my review. I didn’t fully understand the value of Amazon reviews.
My husband is the kind of person who doesn’t trust Amazon reviews. (He doesn’t trust religions – especially established religions, Microsoft Word, and anything that Confucius had ever said either.) My husband would go to his favourite forums in science fiction, computer and gaming. He trusts his own online communities, where he finds reviews more relevant.
After my review on Amazon was published, I entered into a state of ‘panic’. Why did I write such a long review, like an essay?
What exactly should a reviewer write?
As a book reviewer, should you do text analysis, or should you just reveal how much you like or dislike the story or the writing? Should you explain the plots?
Should you elaborate on your own interpretation?
What if your interpretation is different from that of the writer? However, should a reviewer have worried? The French philosopher Roland Barthes argued in 1967 that writing and creator are unrelated in his Death of the Author essay.
How critical should you be when you write an Amazon review?
Review without fear
As soon as my book review was published, I was surprised to find 6 other reviews under my name. I didn’t write them, but who did? It transpired that 6 reviews were all written by my son. He somehow got into my Amazon account one day last year and wrote 6 reviews of the toys and books I had bought him.
I read his reviews – and surprisingly I quite liked the ways he wrote. You could feel his honesty, and his fearlessness, shown by the use of some exclamation marks and capital letters. He wrote succinctly. He also gave out 3 stars, 4 stars and 5 stars to show his judgement.
Let’s see how a 12-year-old child wrote his reviews on Amazon:
On Flashwing Skylander: (5 stars) Flashwing is an extremely powerful teammate for any game. She has lightning fast laser attacks and has super fast speed when spinning, making her a deadly opponent.
On Sprocket Skylander: (4 stars) Sprocket, the Tech Skylander for Skylanders: Giants, is weak and hard to use at first. As you upgrade her she becomes a worthy opponent for enemy Skylanders in Battle Mode with her turrets and tanks.
On Doctor Who Storybook 2007: (5 stars) A good start to the book series, this book has 8 brilliant stories and great pictures to match. A great read.
On Doctor Who Storybook 2009: (3 stars) The first three stories are very well written and pictured. Then, after the comic strip, the stories start failing, with the exception of Hold Your Horses.
On Doctor Who Storybook 2010: (4 stars) A fitting end to this book series, this storybook has brilliant stories like The Shape On The Chair, Bennelong Point, End Of The Rainbow and The Haldenmour Fugue. The only let down is the comic strip and Knock Knock, a story about, no joke, TALKING DOORS!!!
If I were to write so succinctly, like a fearless 12-year-old, I think I should revise my review on Brenda Sedgwick’s novel as below:
Marriage A Journey And A Dog eBook: (5 stars) A good start to romance and dreams, this book is brilliant with crazy characters. It takes you to amazing places through Europe. A great read.
What about you?
Do you write reviews? Do you write reviews, especially book reviews, on Amazon? What do you base your review on? Is the length of a review important to you? Do you trust Amazon reviews? I would love to hear your opinions. Please leave your comments to add to the discussion. Thank you.