Weekly Geeks – Overly Critical?

This week’s Weekly Geeks host Tara asks if we are OCRs?

O.C.R. = Overly Critical Reader

Symptoms:

  • not liking characters in the beginning
  • needing the main character to prove themselves before you’ll respect them
  • rolling your eyes while reading
  • needing things to be completely realistic
  • shouting things such as “WTF?!”
  • needing every plot twist and turn to be foreseeable

I don’t think I’m overly critical. I’m quite fussy about what I read in the first instance, so many books just don’t get a look in beyond the first page. I want to enjoy what I’m reading so I don’t start any book that looks boring or as though it’s not well written.

I do get exasperated when I read a description or a fact that I know is wrong, but a book doesn’t have to be completely realistic – I can suspend my disbelief to a certain extent. And I certainly don’t want every plot twist and turn to be foreseeable because that would be far too predictable.

I don’t feel the need to like all the characters, in fact unlikeable characters can be more interesting and necessary to the plot. It would be terribly boring if every character was ‘nice’.

I like reading critical reviews because then it gives me another view from the gushing praise some reviewers give (on Amazon for example), so in my reviews I like to say why I don’t like certain aspects of a book if I’ve found it disappointing or poorly written and give an overall idea of whether I loved it or not. I don’t give ratings on my blog, but I do on LibraryThing, where my average rating is 4 stars (out of 5). I also rate each book privately as I read it; most are between 3.5 and 5, where 5 is excellent and 3 is average. I don’t put it on the blog because it’s very subjective. I’ve noticed that this varies from blog to blog and I’m wondering  if I should start putting my rating in the review?

10 thoughts on “Weekly Geeks – Overly Critical?”

  1. Margaret – Thanks for sharing the way you go about reviewing. I agree that ratings can be quite subjective. That’s why I always appreciate it when reviewers link to other reviews, even those with differing opinions on a book. In my opinion, putting ratings on reviews is helpful because it can clarify for the reader what a reviewer’s overall opinion was. And I would also add that those who read reviews owe it to themselves to read more than one review of a book before making a decision about reading. This is such an interesting topic!

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    1. Margot, thanks for your comments. I agree that it is helpful to read more than one review and I have on occasion linked to other blog reviews. I see what you mean about ratings clarifying the reviewer’s overall opinion and will think more about doing so myself.

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  2. I don´t add stars to my reviews either, except for a few five-star reviews. It seems that readers who know my blog can see quite clearly what I really think, however, and I am sure the same goes for your reviews.

    One of my reasons for not making the stars public is that I don´t want to hurt or harm new writers too much. I have read several debuts that deserve 3 or 4 stars, but when I do give a book 2 stars, it is often a debut. And I know if it were me, I couldn´t help feeling disappointed.

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    1. Dorte, that’s a good point. I’ve also found that my view of a book can vary according to my mood, so that giving a book 2-stars one day could turn into 2.5 or 3 at another time – purely subjective! If I could be consistent then I’d feel happier about adding my ratings to my reviews.

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    1. Page, somehow I don’t have a problem with putting stars on Library Thing, maybe because there the stars get averaged out for each book, so there’s an overall view.

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  3. I like the distinction between over-critical and fussy Margaret. I’ve just begun adding some of my reviews to Amazon too – to counteract the gushy ones 🙂

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  4. I know what you mean about the star rating not seeming objective enough, I include it in mine to give people a sense of what I think about that book relative to other books I’ve reviewed but I hope they take away more from the words in the review than just the stars.

    Sometimes if I don’t want to give stars (because I think it might hurt someone unnecessarily) I’ll wrap my thoughts about a book up in some other kind of post and not do it as a ‘proper review’.

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  5. I don’t rate books on my blog. I’m not officially a book blogger though I do review a lot of books, but as I read book bloggers I’m looking to them for their overall view of books. The ones I follow religiously are quite fair in their reviews; none are overly critical and I trust their reactions enough to decide whether a book is one I would enjoy. I’m sure I’m not overly critical. In fact, if there is something I really dislike about a book, or even if I’m absolutely enthralled by one, I wait a day or two in order to write a more measured review.

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  6. i am not a blogger…i subscibe to a lot of blogs for the reviews….if i trust the reviewer i appreciate the star rating….even though i read the reviews i somehow find it helpful

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