|1. Tell the reader broadly what the book/play/film/etc. is about and what it's like.|
|2. Give a clear sense of what the reviewer thinks of it.|
|3. Say whether it's worth spending money on.|
That seems straightforward enough, but a lot of reviews fail to do one or more of these things.
The worst kind of review is that which indulges a frenzy of self-advertisement on the reviewer's part, offering little or no information about what he or she is allegedly assessing. Hardly less bad, albeit more humble, is the reviewer who is either too scared to venture a clear opinion or not interested enough in the work to care about doing so. And there is an additional complication that can threaten the quality and integrity of even well-written reviews.
Quite simply, reviewing is an industry, and an ever-growing one. A single, non-specialist organ like The Sunday Times carries thirty pages of reviews every week, on everything from books to restaurants, cars to compact discs, holidays to TV programmes. The chances of any reader experiencing all these things is nil; consequently, the review can easily become a substitute for experience rather than an inducement to it. That is a large issue, and this book is not the place to explore it fully. What I must say, however, is that because reviewing is an industry, it is not
* If being concise causes you problems [it does for all of us at times!], you may find it helpful to consult Chapter 16, Précis and Summary, where the skills involved in writing with maximum economy are analysed in detail.