I was all set to review a fiction book this morning, and then I thought about it a bit...and realized I'm not a very good fiction reviewer.
There's no doubt about it. Reviewing fiction is different from reviewing nonfiction. For one thing, I'm always afraid of blowing the ending in fiction. This very rarely matters in nonfiction, because usually if there's a story to be told, the reader knows all about it, or enough about it that you can easily discuss it. In True Crime, largely, someone's been murdered and someone's going to be apprehended. Sports adventure, like Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air? People are going to climb up a mountain, and it's not going to end well. We know that. That's why we bought the book. Particularly in memoirs: the plot twists are often why the memoir is being written. Got a drug problem? Issues with your parents? Sex addiction? That's WHY the memoir is being written. So I'm not giving anything away when I share that.
But fiction? A lot of times a twist in the narrative or a surprising turn in the story is what I want to share, as I feel that's where the author has probably spent the most time, or where their prose is really shining. But then I can't...because I don't want to ruin the story.
I further struggle with fiction because when it's bad, I just want to stop reading it, whereas with nonfiction, I like to figure out why it's annoying me. I don't know why that is. Perhaps because I expect a lot of modern fiction to be bad, I'm not as personally affronted by it or something.
I'm also really bad, it turns out, at summarizing stories in general. So what do you say? What do you like to see in a good fiction review? Let me know and I'll try to make it happen for tomorrow's review of fiction.