I’ve come to believe that the most important skill for a book reviewer is to have a vast vocabulary of over-the-top adjectives and adverbs. (See, I just used one, er, two.) I just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and what I say about book reviewers is not a knock on her book. Her book was engrossing. I’m using her book as an example of reviewer speak. Here is a partial list of the adjectives and adverbs used by various reviewers that appear on the covers and first few pages of the book.
ingenious, irresistible, terrifying [can a book be terrifying and irresistible at the same time?], mercilessly entertaining, superb, razor-sharp, sinister, wickedly clever, menacing, ice-pick sharp, spectacularly sneaky, impressively cagey, hilariously terrifying, sharp, deliciously devious, wicked clever, complex and driven, simply fantastic, darkly funny, at times moving, intricately twisted and deliciously sinister, wildly unexpected, devilishly good,thoroughbred, insidiously realistic, brilliantly constructed and consistently absorbing . . .
Enough. There are many more that I could list, but I’ve made my point.
Apparently, a single adjective is not enough; two are better. “Wickedly clever” is better than just “clever”.
Reviewers use these adjectives like sound bites. Word bites if you will; one way to get your name on the cover of a best-seller.