Every now and again, there's an issue that comes up in the blogosphere either to me or some of my blog friends that gets me thinking, and I wanted to create an open forum of discussion for these issues. So, while this isn't a regular feature here, I wanted to open up this topic/debate for discussion to see what you all think about it.
Question: Do you think that reviewing so many books makes us too critical, or too biased to be fully objective when reviewing?
I've noticed lately that it's harder and harder for me to give five star reviews, and actually a few readers of my blog commented on my lack of five star reviews, asking why I give so few. It's not that I'm not reading good books. Trust me, I am. Here's the thing though...when I first started reviewing, I didn't really review based on the same principles that I do now. I reviewed purely on enjoyment and pacing, pretty much. Did I know what I was doing? Heck no! Do I know what I'm doing now? I like to think I'm being objective, though, as always, my reviews remain my personal opinions. I am a lot more critical now though because having read and reviewed so much, I need to separate my reads into the good, the bad and the ugly.
So, yes, I'm probably more critical these days when I review because I've seen a much broader range of writing - both good and bad. Do I think I'm too critical though? I really don't, though some might disagree. I think there is a fine line between critical and hypercritical though. I want the fundamentals of the story to shine. The extras (the excellent prose, the imagery, etc.) are the bits that make a book stand apart for me. For example - look at Raw Blue. Contemporary fiction was never my thing until this book. That gives me a five-star gauge for a book. Take the start of a great series like Siren for another example, then look at the sequel, Undercurrent, and that's why a sequel needs to exceed the first book. I don't like resting on laurels, so when I see a book exceed others and raise the bar, I long for the next book that's going to take my breath away (much like Legacy by Cayla Kluver recently did).
Yes, there are some series and books that stand in a league of their own in which none will ever really measure up for me, Harry Potter being a prime example, but for the most part, there is always something that can make want to read and re-read a book time and again. I just want to find that, which is why, yes, I think I've become a bit more critical. What do you think? Do you think book blogging has made you more critical, or do you think you've become to critical?