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A cynics guide to the book cover review

By April 21, 2015Guest Blogs

Okay so we all know those catchy sentences, those little quotes, that try to entice us to read the book. I’m not going to go into how they are obtained over a ‘free’ expensive lunch or at least a coffee and a slice of chocolate cake (thanks Kath). I’m going to look at what they actually say. Are they really a gushing indictment of how wonderful the book is? Or are they secretly trying to tell us something else?

Let us start with the commonly used ‘it’s a real page turner.’ Or in the world of the eReader ‘it’s a real page swiper.’ All that it is really telling us, is that it’s a book. I haven’t yet come across a book that turning the pages isn’t the required method. If that is the best they can say about it, then surely there is something wrong with it.

‘It is the author’s best (funniest, scariest, most thrilling) novel to date.’ Surely that just means that the author’s other books are even worse than this one.

Any quote that has the words unique, original, one of a kind or words of that ilk. They do not mean they are good, they mean they are different (as in not the same) to other books you have enjoyed, and that is not always a good thing. Raw chopped liver and marmalade sandwiches are different.

‘It’s an Ambitious novel’ or in other words failed to achieve what it set out to do.

‘The best read I’ve had in ages’ couldn’t that just mean I haven’t been reading any books for quite some time now and this was the first one I picked up.

‘I couldn’t put it down.’ I wish I could put it down but I get paid to write reviews so I had to finish it.

‘It was a rollercoaster.’ It made me feel dizzy and sick.

‘It’s the best book since *insert novel here, this one I could agree with because all it is saying is that it is not as good as the novel mentioned and ‘since’ could just mean it was actually only released a few hours after. My issue with this is, how do you know? Have you read every novel since? No you haven’t, so stop saying it, or at least say ‘I’ve only read one novel since I read blah blah and this was it.’

Then there is the dreaded ellipsis… Beware the … it could mean anything. There could be a multitude of rebuttals hiding behind it.
‘… a wonderful read.’ For … please insert ‘it was not.’

Finally, there is the blatant lie. These crop up all the time. For example, this author is the next (Stephen King, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett etc.) No they are not, really they are not, they never are!

Well I’m sure you get the idea by now. Always take a close look at the book cover quotes, they might not mean what you think they do!

David Bowen is the author of the Hell on Earth series of novels.

Hell on Earth Review
The Eleventh Plague Review

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One Comment

  • Tim Nelson says:

    To see a really great example, look at the quotes on the back of “Bored of the Rings”, by the Harvard Lampoon.

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