A lot of us write reviews from time to time, and we all read them. In my recent attempt to review We need to talk about Kevin, which blew me out of my seat, I was struck by how reviewing comes with its own collection of stock phrases. So, here’s my guaranteed, cliché free review.
WNTTAK is a page-turner and was utterly beguiling and unputdownable. It gripped me from cover to cover. A spellbinding read with a thrilling plot, it keeps you guessing to the very last page. Written by an author at the height of her powers, this book really delivers.
Actually, I enjoyed WNTTAK so much I dedicated the whole of one of my writing Fridays to finishing it, but after reading the review above I wouldn’t be tempted to crease its spine. Perhaps I’m coming to the conclusion that the whole of English is cliché. There’s nothing to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times before with exactly the same words. It’s as if we are all a collection of monkeys with typewriters. Sooner or later another monkey will repeat the works of Shakespeare.
Take, for example, the witticism I heard on the radio the other day. I can’t remember who said it, and I can’t remember which composer he was talking about, and I’ve googled my fingers off trying, but the phrase was, “His music is not as good as it sounds.” Brilliant. It’s one of those: I-wish-I’d-said-that moments, but then I wondered how many people had independently come up with the same notion. It’s a thought that often cripples me when writing fiction. What if twenty people have written exactly the same scene? I know the answers, but it’s still scary.
So from now on I shall keep my reviews simple. As any literary agent will tell you, the only correct way to refer to your enjoyment of a novel is that you loved it.