Anna (_ocelott_) wrote in genrereviews,


I had an interesting conversation the other day with a friend of mine regarding reviewers and bias. I maintain that as reviewers are, in fact, human beings, we've all got our biases, no matter how hard we try to pretend otherwise. Oh, sometimes I'll see the merit in a book based on its ideas or prose even if it doesn't appeal to me on a personal level, but there are times when I honestly can't get into a book because one element is poking at my bias, or I'll fall in love with a book that maybe isn't so well written but appeals to me on another level. Hopefully I can recognize and admit when my bias is kicking in like that, but it's hard to write a glowing review for something that while not without merit, just didn't do it for me.

The thing is, books aren't read in a sterile bubble. We all have mental maps, based both on real life and the other books we've read. For someone who reads a lot of urban fantasy, Twilight doesn't present anything that hasn't been done before, but to someone who isn't familiar with vampire books, it could open a whole new world. (Or, y'know, shut it firmly depending on whether you loved or hated the thing.)

Yes, yes, I'm coming to the point.

My question to everyone is this: should reviewers pretend not to have a bias, or is it more helpful if we own up to it? If I mention the author's tendancy to make female characters interchangeable put me off the book but that otherwise it was a well-crafted story, does this put things in perspective for people who aren't bothered by the same things I am? Or does it just sound like a cop-out?
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