That’s because there is a difference between a critic and a reviewer. A reviewer will simply tell you whether or not they enjoyed a movie (or book) and how much they enjoyed it. The critic is a trained expert; a guy that knows if they got the back-lighting in a scene right or who judges a film on the cleverness of the camera angle, or the smooth segue between scenes. It seems like a critic is supposed to be an artsy snob who is disgusted with movies that are simply funny, sappy, exciting, scary, romantic, or sad in a good way. In other words if it’s enjoyable to the un-scrubbed masses it can’t be good. A gross generality, I know, but the feeling still comes down that way.
I’m certainly no literary expert, but my meager training and now considerable experience with writing fiction has taught me a lot about writing sharp sentences, keeping tense right, and being picky about grammar (and no I’m not picking on the dear old soul). But these are not the reasons I buy a book. I buy a book because I’m entertained by it, or because it contains information I want to know. When it comes to putting my money down for a book those are the most important things.
I have a book that I love, but which critics would tear apart. It’s a historic narrative told in the language of a generation older than mine (meaning there aren’t many left now). So it has really long, complex sentences, and paragraphs that sometimes span multiple pages. It uses some peculiar phraseology and a few terms that no longer mean the same as it did back in the day. Historic narratives are supposed to be presented chronologically; this one is, sort of… Occasionally it takes a whiplash inducing bunny trail back to a different period of time. It gets confusing at times; a couple of times I never did figure what the author was talking about.
But what I love about the book is it gives intimate insight into a time I never knew. It is like sitting across the table from a grandparent as they relate stories verbatim from memory. The author frequently provided the date or period and occasionally had documented evidence, but the vast majority of the story is reality as they experienced it. When I reviewed the book I honestly gave it five stars for its content and its sincere presentation. A more critical friend declared they couldn’t force themselves to read past the first chapter, mentioning many of the technical problems listed above. It’s a pity because there is so much great stuff between that book’s covers.
Books are a lot like people, they have their own personality. It is delightful to know people from all the demographics of society, as long as they aren’t mean and nasty. I feel the same way about books.
There is time for a critique. I get those from my beta readers and editors; it helps me fix a lot of what’s wrong with my book before it goes to the publisher. In that case a critique is better than a review. But when I post a review on Amazon, Barns & Noble, Goodreads, or other such places, I simply rate it on how much I received from the story in knowledge or enjoyment. The purpose is of a review is to tell fellow readers what books you really like. So if I don’t like a book I simple will not review it.
By the way, if you enjoy my books please do review them at those sites; most readers believe what other readers recommend.