I’m going spill a little secret: I love book reviews (shocking, I know). I’m always thrilled to see a new Booklist, School Library Journal, or Publishers Weekly in my mailbox, and I follow more YA review blogs than I can possibly keep up with — and therein lies the trouble.
There are so many review sources and a reader only has so much time, especially if she wants to actually read the books the reviews are about! So I was pretty excited to learn about I Dream Books, a new website for book lovers. Like Rotten Tomatoes for movies and Metacritic for movies, TV, and more, I Dream Books collects reviews published around the web and calculates a score for each book based on the reviews. Books with over 70% positive reviews get a happy face on I Dream Books — recommended! I Dream Books also allows readers create an account so that they can make reading lists and enter giveaways.
Unfortunately, while the idea behind the site is exciting, it’s not without problems. It doesn’t have an abundance of books, particularly young adult titles. Since voting for YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten starts next week, I decided to see what I Dream Books had to say about the nominated titles. Of the 24 books on the list, only 2 (Where She Went and Between Shades of Gray) showed up at all, and neither had any associated reviews. This surprised me, especially since at least three of the Teens’ Top Ten nominations were New York Times best sellers (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children).
I did a little more exploring and realized why: all the books in the YA category — and there are only 19 of them — were published in April of this year. There’s nothing newer and nothing older. A little more exploring, however, lead to the realization that there is more YA on the site, but it’s in hiding. Robin Wasserman’s Book of Blood and Shadow, for example, is in general fiction; recently published YA titles 172 Hours on the Moon, Losers in Space, and Black Heart (the third book in Holly Black’s Curseworkers series) are in Sci-fi and Fantasy. There’s YA there, but you have to dig for it, and not everything you’re looking for will be available. I’m not against grouping YA in with adult titles, especially since YA isn’t exactly a genre itself, but it’s pretty confusing to have a Young Adult category but leave so many YA titles out of it.
I love the idea of this site: it’s fun and useful, particularly for those of us who want to be in the know about the newest and most exciting books. But right now, I Dream Books doesn’t have the breadth or the organization to live up to its premise. I do think it’s worth checking out and I’ll be keeping my eye on it. If the organization and selection improve I’ll be a regular user in a heartbeat! For now, though, I’m sticking to my beloved Goodreads.
— Emily Calkins, currently reading This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
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