What am I talking about? My review of the Hunger Games trilogy, of course.
I have never done a review like that before. (Excuse me as I guffaw loudly.) My past reviews consisted of me saying “I love the book! It’s perfect! What should I read next?” I’ve never actually analyzed the writing, the story, or the author in the way that I did with this trilogy. There’s a very good reason for that: I’m not usually looking for the flaws. It’s true that when you’re looking for flaws, you’ll find a lot of them.
Why was it beneficial for me to do a crushing review? Well, I need to edit my own writing, and if I can’t be critical with someone else, I can’t count on myself to be critical with myself. Thus, I went through looking for scenes that should have been cut, grammar mistakes, author cliches, and ill-fitting characters. If you think about it, I went through the Hunger Games as if I was the author. No, actually, because I was daydreaming about how I was going to tell the author off about all the flaws. Maybe I’m taking too much delight in finding things wrong. Especially when I cackled evilly at finding a weak beginning to the first book, and the mention of a large carnivorous rodent in the second. Yes, I was having too much fun.
Back to the subject. If I plan on editing anything ruthlessly, I’ve got to start somewhere. Everyone knows it’s easier to be critical of someone else than of yourself, so I started on someone else. Maybe this isn’t the best practice, but I’d like to get on with the post.
When I read anything, I have a first impression. As I think about the book, I realize more and more that my first impression was wrong. Thus it was with the Hunger Games. Thus it was with the Inheritance Cycle. (Some of you can attest to the fact that I attempted to argue you out of thinking badly of Inheritance. Well, I’ve had a change of heart. I still like the book, and I’ll argue about the story all you like, but I’ve found a few flaws. And it wasn’t because I reread it more critically– only because I thought about it a lot.) Thus it was with my own writing. Sometimes, however, I think I’ve found a flaw after thinking about a book for a long time, but when I reread it I find that my worry was unfounded, due to the author adding a detail that I had forgotten. I forget things a lot, which is why I reread.
Another thing these reviews helped me to do is to analyze the writing, not just the story. I’ve never bothered myself with the writing before this– just the story. If you said you didn’t like one author’s writing style, I couldn’t argue, since I didn’t analyze it. I didn’t understand writing style, what makes it good or bad. I wish I could say that now I do, but I’m still working on it.
The thing I don’t want to do, however, is read other books as I did the Hunger Games. To go through books constantly looking for the worst not only is tiresome and time-consuming, but will put the kibosh on many of your friendships with other writers. People don’t like people who can’t say yes.
In short, I think the latest reviews were quite beneficial, but I shouldn’t let that attitude rule my other reading. But if you don’t really like the author, it’s quite fun to give his or her work a bad review. What do you think?