The other day, I was minding my own business, finishing up a book and adding my status to Goodreads (because does one ever really finish a book without all of Goodreads knowing it?) when I noticed that someone had commented on a review of mine. I like comments, so I went to check it out.
Earlier in the day another person (coincidentally from my home province) had also commented on that same review, questioning my review. This new comment seemed to be quite similar to the first one, but obviously from a different person across the globe.
Before I get into what the comments were, I should talk a bit about the book I was reviewing. I can’t really call it a “book” since it really wasn’t — what it was was a dramatization of a story by a very well-known author. I had never really had the book on my list of books I wanted to read, but when I saw the disc come through the library circulation desk, I thought I’d give it a whirl. It was short — only about 2.5 – 3 hours long — and seemed interesting given that it was a dramatization. While I had listened to audiobooks in the past, I had never listened to a dramatization before, so I thought it might be fun.
Suffice to say, I really didn’t enjoy it. The story was mediocre at best and the full-cast dramatization was in 3D sound and kind of confusing to listen to. Throughout my listening, I never really grabbed onto the story and ended up rating it quite low. I noticed when I posted my review that there were some very positive reviews of the story — mainly from people who actually READ the story as words on paper, which makes sense since they were privy to a lot of the detail that was left out of the dramatization.
Back to this day, one commenter had told me that I was robbing myself of the excitement of reading by listening to an audiobook, whereas another commenter wanted to be sure that I didn’t give the story a lower rating based solely on the crappy dramatization.
This got me thinking — when I review a book, what am I reviewing? Regardless of what medium I digest a story through, am I not always influenced BY that medium? Will that not affect my final outlook on the story?
Take any other audiobook, for example. The narrator can really make or break a story. I remember listening to Code Namer Verity by Elizabeth Wein on a long car trip. I made it through at least 3.5 CDs before I turned it off because I was having issues with the narrator. I felt like the combination of the heavy accent, the distraction of driving, and the detailed plot really didn’t mesh well with my listening to that story at that time. I know that if I went back and read the story, I might enjoy it a heck of a lot more. Had I finished the story on audiobook and reviewed it after, it might have gotten a lower rating due to the audio.
This is just like a written story that might have bad editing. If I’m constantly noticing mistakes in the writing, it’ll take away from my enjoyment of the story. Again, this might affect my rating.
To me, I still can gain a lot of enjoyment of reading through listening to an audiobook. They’re a great way to sneak in an extra book in the week during time where I might not be able to visually read a book. I read Harry Potter YEARS ago and am enjoying it now through audiobook, with Stephen Fry as the narrator — he is an immensely good narrator! But, other narrators might have dragged the story down (although, probably not likely since it is Harry Potter).
I think that when it comes time to reviewing a story, I have to take all things into consideration, from the narration, to the writing, to the enjoyment I had while listening or reading — was I bored? Did it grab onto me and not let go until the end? If it was an audiobook, was I eager to do anything that would let me listen to it, or was I bored with listening, forcing myself to finish? All of these things affect the overall enjoyment of a story.
When I go back to the comments made on this particular review, I have to remind myself that my review was my own opinion and maybe the commenters didn’t understand my method of reviewing and rating. But I guess that’s another discussion for another day.
When it comes to reviewing books, what are you reviewing? Do you take many factors into account when writing and rating a book? Does it seem wrong of me to rate this book lower based on the poor narration?