Bookin' It

So Many Books. So Little Time. Let's Review!

Synopsis vs Review

Ever read a book “review” where the entire plot is retold in six paragraphs?  If so, then you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that that is something I try to avoid when I’m discussing books I’ve read.  I figure if you want a synopsis of the story, you can read abridged books.  Reader’s Digest used to sell books that condensed 3 or 4  novels into one volume. Personally, I never understood why anyone would want to read them.  They just made me want to know what had been cut out, and then I had to go get the original book, and re-read it,  already knowing how it would turn out.  Ack.

Everyone has a different idea of how to approach a review, and mine is just this:  I am not going to tell you the story.  You need to read it yourself.  I’m just going to tell you if I liked it or not, and why.  How it made me feel is usually part of my reviews, as well as how strong or weak I felt the author’s writing style to be.  I will give it a rating, based on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being “It was brilliant/fantastic/lyrical/amazing (choose one), and 1 being “I appreciate the effort, but don’t give up your day job.”  And I will recommend you either run right out and buy the book for yourself, or just RUN.  The other way. 

For anyone looking to have the plot summarized, this isn’t the blog for you.  I don’t do spoilers, either.  Of course, sometimes when you review a sequel, it will automatically give away something about the first book, even if it’s just who survived to go on to the second book.  But nothing makes me madder than to be looking over a review of a book I’m thinking of  buying and have the murderer revealed or the big secret in the attic explained.  Before I even realize what’s happening, I no longer have much reason to read the book for myself. 

So, rest assured, if you are looking for a review rather than a synopsis, you might like what I have to say.  But you’ll have to check with someone else for that Reader’s Digest Condensed version.

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8 thoughts on “Synopsis vs Review

  1. I completely agree, the whole reason to read a review is not to know what’s in the book, it’s to know whether or not you should bother to find out for yourself what’s in the book.


  2. Well said, Mike. I agree. I read a lot of reviews…a LOT…and I’m always surprised at the ones who rehash the entire plot. Now I do PLENTY of rehashing with friends who have already read the book. But it doesn’t work for me in a review. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’ll enjoy looking around!


  3. Good policy. I read one essay about book-reviewing that had a good formula. 1) Tell what the book is about (without spoilers), 2) Describe what you think the author was trying to accomplish, and 3) Tell how you felt about 1 & 2 and whether the author was successful. That’s been a good rule-of-thumb (rules of thumb?) for me.


  4. I like this formula, Steve. Thanks for sharing it. I’m going to put it on a desktop Post It Note, and while I may vary from time to time, it will surely be a good guideline to consider. Sometimes emotion and enthusiasm take over, and I might find myself going in another direction, but this is a great way to start out, at least. Good to see you here this afternoon!


  5. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman on said:

    Hi Marsha I am looking forward to discussing books with you. I see you are gal after my own heart, you read a wide range of books too. I am a new fan of Jane Austin, I loved Sense and Sensibility, and planning on taking Pride and Prejudice on vacation in a few weeks.


  6. Hi, Patty! So glad you found this blog, too, and I hope you will enjoy it. Yep, I read all sorts of stuff, though right now, I’m enjoying a lot of urban fantasy. But I have read so many genres over the years, that you will probably see all sorts of books popping up here. I have only read a bit of Jane Austen for some reason. That’s something I need to rectify. I have read all the Bronte’s, and plenty of things from that era, but somehow didn’t ever get around to Austen. I’ve seen several movies based on Austen books, so I’m pretty sure I would love them. And I’m making a note to download one or two to my Kindle immediately. They are probably in the Free books section, anyway.

    Thanks for stopping by, and please post often. Have a great weekend,


  7. Hi Marcia!
    I have to admit that like you, i also sometimes let enthusiasm get the better of me when i’m writing a review.
    But when i’m writing it, i try to be as concise as possible, referring what the book has made me feel, while at the same time trying to avoid spoilers. I admit i do sometimes enter a “one sided” discussion with some of the characters, and in that case CAPITAL letters, may end up “being” envolved. 🙂
    I like Steve’s formula. Good guideline for the next review that i tackle.


  8. Oh, yes…the famous CAPITAL letters, Susana! Like you, I use them a lot, too. I’m trying to be better, but it’s hard when you suffer an excess of enthusiasm the way I do. Italics are good, too. And many, many exclamation points!!!!! (See?)

    I agree. Steve’s formula is a very good guideline to use. Or TRY to use. (There they are again.) Good to see you here this morning. Hope you are having a nice weekend.


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