Monday, September 8, 2008

About Reviewing

I am going into reviewer withdrawal, which is this crazy thing having to do with my going the whole summer without being assigned a book and actually missing reviewing so much that I just write reviews of novels to pass the time. Well, it can't hurt, I suppose. Having a file of reviews may come in handy sometime (I have been in the position of writing a review on demand).

The most rewarding part of reviewing is being assigned wonderful books that I would probably never have discovered (or bothered to finish reading) otherwise. This has been the case with most of the books that I reviewed (particularly Every Crooked Pot by Renee Rosen, The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt, The Game of My Life by Jason McElwain, and The Shadow Companion by Laura Anne Gilman), but of course there is sometimes a bad book. I use the word bad for its generous pool of meanings: I have read novels that were violent, vulgar, utterly traumatizing, gruesomely inappropriate for the targeted age group. When that happens I just have to keep in mind that it is actually work ... and must be done. Horrific content tends to slide off my shoulders more easily with that thought in mind.

The magazine (Voice of Youth Advocates or VOYA) has a rating system -- Q for Quality and P for Popularity, two factors judged on a numerical basis of one to five -- five being the highest. There was one book I disliked so much that I gave it a big fat one for Quality. My review was basically a dainty articulation of "This book should not be read -- no matter what, where, and who the reader may be." One day I was chatting with a writer (who is now a great friend of mine) and mentioned my reviewing said book, and how horrible I had found it. When I named the book and its author, this author said, "Oh, yes, I know her!"

"What? Well, don't tell her what I said!" I squeaked. She assured me that she wouldn't, and I think she will stick to her word.

All in all, the bottom line is that reviewing (at least in my case) makes for a lot of fun.