When does a review become a critique, and on what basis? Doesn’t the author have an obligation to deliver the story exactly as he or she envisioned? Is there a modern formula for fiction that must be followed for success? Enter formula, exit artistic license? Some “experts” seem to suggest that readers of fiction are so accustomed to a certain diet that they are reluctant to sample alternative fare. To what extent do readers, and writers, follow the crowd?
When the reviewer departs from the mission of evaluating the entertainment value, the literary value, the cohesiveness of the story, the durability of the characters, the credibility of the plot, and the sincerity of the theme, it is probably with the best of intentions. But, when the story is understandable and persuasive, should the reviewer suggest that it wasn’t quite what they wanted just because it didn’t fit neatly into their own personal reader wheelhouse? Should a reviewer who doesn’t agree with the stylistic depiction of characters because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or religious/spiritual persuasion suggest that the story is somehow deficient?
As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so literary quality is in the eye of the reviewer. Strong credentials and experience obviously enable a more keen eye for quality. The service provided is of great benefit to a reader looking for guidance. But consider this. Objectivity begs for standards, while subjectivity relies on personal taste. Constructive criticism is part of life and is crucial to good writing. That said, when does a review become a critique? When something about the work does not live up to expectations. Simple as that.
Three top-rated professional organizations published reviews of Astrologer’s Apprentice. One expressed appreciation for the theme, the characters, and the plot. Another validated the philosophical integrity of the author’s approach, while suggesting that the female characters are not depicted in the same light as men, and that the author spends too many words depicting scenes not directly connected to the plot. The third reviewer seemed to completely misunderstand the visionary and metaphysical aspect of the work, instead choosing to express distaste for the writers’s style by quoting specific sentences from the story without proper context.
Appreciative of the reviews and the embedded, unavoidable criticism, this author stands proud, with no regrets, and will gladly re-enlist these same professionals upon completion of the second book of the Astrotheologian Series.