Monday Musings is a weekly feature at Josie’s Book Corner, showcasing all thoughts on life, blogging and even possibly, wider issues.
As a book blogger, I write book reviews – and so do all the other book bloggers out there. You might be reading this as a book blogger yourself. One thing all book bloggers have in common is that we write reviews. More specifically, we write reviews on books that we’ve read. Our reviews tend to stick to a particular layout and the more you read book reviews by bloggers, the more you’ll realise that we all tend to write in the same format. Everyone writes differently though, and some can write reviews incredibly well and succinctly, while others sometimes don’t really grasp what it means to review a book – in my opinion, these are the people that tend to mix in their review with their plot summary. I’ve read reviews where I can’t tell where the plot summary begins or ends and it’s so frustrating, to the point where sometimes I feel as though the entire plot of a novel has just been given to me on a silver platter. That’s just not cool. NOT COOL.
But what’s the point of my rambling on right now? It’s not to tell you how book reviews should be written. No, everyone has their own personal style, and I believe they should flaunt that. I’m here to discuss the unimportance of plot summaries in book reviews. Like I mentioned before, most people, in their reviews, start off by giving a small – or large – plot summary before jumping in to their personal review. I don’t do this, because, obviously, I feel like they are not needed. This discussion corresponds somewhat to my last discussion post where I pondered the benefits of going into a book in ignorance.
Reasons Why Plot Summaries Are Unnecessary in Book Reviews
THEY’RE NOT EASILY WELL EXECUTED
You have to be very careful when dealing with a plot summary. Book reviews are there to inform readers about a specific novel and usually it’s targeted towards readers who have not yet read the particular book. That means, you need to write a plot summary in a way that doesn’t spoil your readers for the book. Sadly, I have been spoiled for books due to some reviewers who have given a plot summary that seems to explain everything crucial that happens and it’s very disappointing. I’ve even read reviews that weave the review in with the plot summary, which is even worse – I might as well have read the book through that review. Of course, in that sense, it was probably a case of getting the review structure right, and having everything in its clear sections.
THEY’RE USUALLY REITERATED BOOK BLURBS
Book blurbs – while at times, can be just as bad – are there for a reason and sometimes, people who write plot summaries sound as though they are restating the blurb, just in their own words and style of writing. When I see this, I can’t help but think: why did you even bother with that? You could’ve copied and pasted the Goodreads blurb and it would sound almost identical! Because that is exactly the case! If your plot summary sounds exactly like the blurb of the book, you might as well just copy and paste the blurb into your review.
This point ties in with the first point I made. Some people write summaries that are way too elaborate, to the point where it carries on explaining what happened throughout the entire novel. Seriously, if I WANTED to know what happen in the whole book, I’d google it. I wouldn’t be looking at your review.
GOING INTO A BOOK BLIND IS YOUR BEST BET
If you saw my last discussion post where I talked about how going into a book with ignorance was beneficial for your reading experience, you’ll know what I mean here. Plot summaries take away some of the mystery of the novel and can, in the process, also serve to lessen our enjoyment of the novel when we finally get to reading it. In my opinion, the only thing we need to know before going into a book, is a few keywords that summarises the novel as a whole. The genre, the themes of the book, the setting, etc. There is absolutely no need for a 100+ word summary of the novel.
I’ve rambled on enough. I conclude by saying that plot summaries are honestly, totally not needed in book reviews. The purpose of a book review is not to tell us what the story is about, but to inform us enough to convince us to read a book or not. You can get away with not writing a plot summary by even posting the blurb. However, to make it even better, just give a link to the Goodreads page. I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t like reading blurbs or summaries. So the best way to avoid spoilers is to give everyone the choice of clicking the link that will lead them to a blurb or a plot summary.