Lately there have been a few articles floating around in the news about how to write an unfavorable book review, even whether or not one should write such a review. I haven't read any of these articles. But I did recently write a book review about a book I didn't like all that much, and I can verify how difficult it is to write fairly about a book that just doesn't appeal to the reviewer.
In my case, the book under review had been written by someone who seemed to be a perfectly amiable person, who was writing about an interesting subject, and who was in command of her prose. There was nothing wrong with this book . . . except that the author seemed to have missed the point. By the point, of course, I mean "my own special attraction to the subject"; and therein lies the difficulty. The author had not written the book that I wished she'd written. How, then, was I to frame the review? Should I merely write a good-tempered book report? Or should I note what was missing? Was it even fair to note what was missing? Why should her book have centered on a theme that apparently hadn't interested her?
I think back about the review I did write, and I fear that I wasn't fair. But I don't know what else I could have been. After all, a reader seeks for what speaks to her, and this book didn't speak to me. However, I don't think I was unkind. I hope I wasn't.