I would be the first person to point out that, as a reviewer I am most ordinary. I can tell you if a book is well written. If I know the subject I can offer opinions as to whether it is any good, and perhaps put it in context in terms of how it relates to other, similar books. I will tell you if it makes sense, has structural integrity, a good plot, believable characters or something new to offer. If it’s not my sort of thing I will postulate as to who might like it. Useful enough, as reviewing goes, but nothing to get excited about. I do this sort of thing on Goodreads.
There are reviewers – rare and exceptional reviewers who take it to a whole other level. The measure here is that the review is a valuable contribution in its own right and worth the reading regardless of whether you have any interest in the book. Both Lorna Smithers and James Nichol review in this way on their blogs.
I’ve been blessed with two reviews recently that are pieces of art in their own right and should be honoured as such.
There’s a profound emotional response in Mitriel’s review of Hopeless Maine. It makes the story into something personal, suggesting the room for other people to do that, too. It touched me greatly.
And then this… Letters Between Gentlemen is a novel written mostly in letters. Here, Pablo Cheesecake reviews the book by writing his own letter to Professor Elemental. Of all the reviews I have ever had, this may well be the one I have enjoyed the most, for the sheer joy of how it’s been done… http://www.theeloquentpage.co.uk/2014/11/24/letters-between-gentlemen-by-professor-elemental-and-nimue-brown/
(and yes, reviewing reviewers… where will it end?)