The Review System:

Some people have asked, “Adam, how do you go about reviewing books? What factors do you take into account?  How do some books earn 3 Stars, some earn 5, but none seem to be Starred “low?”

Let me tackle these in order:

How Do I Review?
My reviews are based on an overall impression I had of the novel as a whole, upon completing it.  Did I like it? Was it meaningful? Did the book entertain me, teach me something, or move me in some way?  Typically, the books which I find to be 1) very well written and 2) purposeful or meaningful in some way will get get the highest reviews.  I review on a scale of “Stars” from 0 – 4 (formerly, 0-5).  0 being a book that was an absolute waste of time and could potentially make a person stupider by reading. 4’s are reserved for books that are flawless in construction and delivery, plus offer something to be gained, either in knowledge or spiritual/moral/social growth (not religious spirituality, but in a reflection of self-in-the-world).

What Factors Are Taken Into Account?
I tend to look at prose, plot, characterization & character development.  I also look for sub-plots, plausible outcomes/conclusions, and some sort of conviction (moral, scientific, religious, ethical, natural, etc.) which is put to argument. I also do my best to keep in mind both the subject matter, the age-appropriateness of the text, and the time period in which it was written.  For this reason, a young adult fantasy novel may earn 4 Stars, whereas a classic literature novel could earn 3 – this is all due to perception of how well I believe these books reached and impacted their chosen targets.

Can We See What You Use to Compile Your Review?
Yes – for all reviews which are posted prior to 7/10/2010, either the general/simplified “Summary – Good – Bad – Final Verdict” template is used, or a general paragraph on the book was written, nothing more.  As of 7/10/2010, I have begun using the template scorecard below, which I developed myself.  If you have suggestions on how to improve this (things to add, define, remove, etc.) please do e-mail me!

Book Review Template

Plot/Story:
1 – Incomprehensible/Unbelievable Plot/Story.
2 – Plot/Story could work with better development.
3 – Plot/Story is interesting & believable.
4 – Plot/Story is interesting/believable and impactful (socially, academically, etc.)

Characterization:
1 – Characters not at all developed.
2 – Characters slightly developed.
3 – Characters well developed.
4 – Characters extraordinarily developed.

Prose/Style:
1 – Distracting or Unprofessional/Improper Prose/Style.
2 – Prose/Style in need of Development but works.
3 – Satisfactory Prose/Style, conducive to the Story.
4 – Extraordinary Prose/Style, enhancing the Story.

Additional Elements: Setting, Symbols/Motifs, Resolution, etc.
1 – No additional elements are present and/or they are irrelevant.
2 – Additional elements are present but do not develop the Story.
3 – Additional elements are present and cohesive to the Story.
4 – Additional elements improve and advance the story.

Suggested Reading for:
Age Level:
Interest:

Comments? Suggestions? Questions?