Reviewing a story that has a disappointing feature

blank page book I recently read a story that I rated 4 stars, but it had a disappointing facet that almost made me not review it. The conundrum of the reviewer.

My review policy

That sounds so formal. I’m not a book reviewer in the sense that I get books specifically to review. I read a lot and I like to leave a review  – to help other readers and because I’m hoping the universe will respond with reviews of my books. Because I’m a writer, I don’t do 1 or 2 star reviews- it’s mainly because I can’t tell whether it’s a problem with craft (something that would bug a writer) or a problem with the story (something that would bother the reader).

The book I read

I’ve left my review on Goodreads, Shelfari, and Amazon so the content of the review is not a surprise. I won’t put a specific spoiler in this post, but if you want to read it fresh don’t read the next paragraph.

The disappointing facet was the secret. The thing that caused all the murders and all the pain. It was something that has been done to death in my opinion. It fit, and if I had been looking to figure it out I’d probably have done so. The clues were all there and I could still see how this would have been a motive – thirty years ago.

That’s the problem with many conspiracy books. Think about a contemporary book about WW2 war criminals. Yes they committed horrible crimes. Yes they deserve to be punished to the full effect of the law. But they are all old men now, most are dead and there are more current war crimes to use as the impetus for a story.

How do you review a story like this?

I really enjoyed this book and it’s not a unique problem. I’m reading a book right now that I have to force myself to put it down, but there are errors of logic and fact. And there are typos. So why do I keep picking it up and losing time in my day? Because the story is great enough for me to ignore the problems.

So what do you do in this circumstance? Leave a scathing review based on only the errors. Do you leave a 5 star raving about the story and ignoring the flaws? Or do you not leave reviews?