Thursday, February 3, 2011

Difference between good and bad reviews

Good Review:  Momo, by Michael Ende (Penguin Books, 1992)
Review by Sarah Meador, on (Cultural Arts Magazine)

Sarah Meador wrote a review which is short, clear, and to the point. She (re)familiarizes us with Michael Ende's most famous book, "Neverending story", and tells us how it differs from Momo, the latter being much more subversive in nature (perhaps that is exactly why it is harder to find in America than in Europe). She reminds us, that although both are children's books, Momo touches upon more philosophical and rebellious themes. She tells us who Momo, our protagonist, is, the nature of her relationship to the other characters, who the villains are (the Gray Men of the Time Bank), and how the book has special meaning in today's time-pressed society. The message of the book is discussed in the review: to remain an independent thinker and question societal norms. Grammar is good and Meador makes her point, and unlike the following reviewer, she doesn't use one single "I" in her entire review . This kind of review entices the reader to go forth and buy the book.

Bad Review: The Overton Window, by Glenn Beck (Pocket; Reprint edition, 2010)
Review by CIT76, "Not Very Good", on

This is a rather lengthy review with seven paragraphs. The writer refers to the first person (I) thirteen times (and that's just in the first paragraph!). The writer states in the first paragraph how he is a huge fan of Glenn Beck and how Beck must have a message in the book which needs to get across. The next paragraph talks about how the reviewer thinks the book "really isn't that great" and continues to rattle on about how much he loves Glenn Beck. In the following paragraph is about, you guessed it, how highly he regards Glenn Beck. The fourth paragraph is about how much he cares about Beck enough to criticize him. Fifth paragraph discusses how the story just doesn't work. How and why exactly “does not work” remains a mystery. At least by the fifth paragraph we learn that the book is fiction. Finally we're getting somewhere! Now do we finally find out what the book is about, who the characters are, what Beck's writing style is? Sadly not. The final sentences tell us about important people and source material which can be found in the book. Do we get an example of what people and resources? But that is all we are to learn about this book. The reviewer's writing style is scattered, as well, since he starts one of his paragraphs with "and". This review tells us little about the book and more (some would say too much) about what a fan the reviewer is.

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