Does The Internet Make Reviews Obsolete?

I think so.

This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time.

I could never read a music review. It was like encountering a foreign language that looked like English, but was some sort of bizarre code.

Today, is there any need for music reviewing? Anyone can pop over to their favorite online music store or even a band website and immediately listen to samples. Would a bad review matter if you listened on your own and liked the music?

Book reviews usually set my teeth on edge, as mentioned in an earlier post.

Is there any need for book reviews today? Anyone can pop over to a publisher’s site, or an eBookstore, or a writer’s website and immediately read a free excerpt or an entire free chapter. Would any review — good or bad — have an effect if you personally liked or didn’t like what you read?

What inspired this post today was this review: The Swap

But what works against the novel most is Moore’s maddeningly elliptical prose style. He seems to take forever to get a point across. As a result, all attempts at humor — be they bone-dry or over-the-top — are completely lost in verbiage. The same goes for most plot developments, including the relationship that results when the wife of one Harvey’s schoolmates leaves her husband during a post-reunion party and takes up with Harvey. Then there’s the murder investigation, which ought to add suspense, but instead reads like a distraction. And, as if all this weren’t disappointing enough, the novel doesn’t end so much as it simply … stops.

What exactly does any of that really mean? Especially when it begins with an expectation on part of the reviewer:

With its Roy Lichtenstein-inspired cover illustration and graphic title design, Antony Moore’s THE SWAP looks promising. And the back cover synopsis makes it sound like a Donald E. Westlake-like comedic romp of murder, misunderstandings and related mishaps in the world of comic book dealers and readers. Would that it were! Sadly, this debut novel is a clumsy, ill-conceived work that never really delivers on any such promises.

So how can I believe anything that proceeds from that premise?

I did some investigation and it seems the publisher of this book has spent a bit of money to give it a shiny website.

That tells me this book isn’t the disposable thing the reviewer considered it to be. It also hints loudly that he missed the entire point.

I went on to Random House’s site to read an excerpt.

I liked what I read. So what did that review actually accomplish?

The most that can be said for it is that it inspired this post.

The worst that can be said is so obvious, I won’t state it.

Reviews of music and books: obsolete.

Explore posts in the same categories: Books - Other, C.O.A.T. - Other, Music, Reference - Writing, Uncategorized, Writers - Living, Writing

2 Comments on “Does The Internet Make Reviews Obsolete?”

  1. Rod Says:

    What the review accomplished is that it “made you look,” and you decided for yourself. Reviews will never be obsolete — that’s like saying opinions will be obsolete. Just because you don’t agree with a review doesn’t mean it didn’t bring your attention to something you otherwise might never have run across.

  2. zoewinters Says:

    I agree with both you and Rod.

    If you come across something on your own, whatever a reviewer does or doesn’t think about it has no bearing on you. You have instant access online to part of the book to decide for yourself what you think.

    But, I agree with Rod in that, sometimes the way you HEAR about a book in the first place is through a review. Though it’s rarely through the pretentious formal book review. It’s more often from casual blogs, where someone mentions they liked a book and why. Or hated a book and why.


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