Website Review: MetaCritic

This is not an Australian website but as it contains some Australian material I thought it best to review the site here before I started to provide links to it.

MetaCritic describes itself as a website that "compiles reviews from respected critics and publications for film, video/dvd, books, music and games." The book review compilations have only recently been added, hence the note here. Webpages of this sort are very useful in that they allow you to quickly scan extracts from a number of related sites without having to go to the effort of tracking them all down. This was the whole concept behind Yahoo in its initial stages - the web was getting too big to find anything so index sites would be the "next big thing". As you might expect for a website based in the USA the bulk of the material under consideration in the Books section is sourced from the USA and UK. You get the occasional interloper, like Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, but these are few and far between. The only Australian book I can find so far is The Tyrant's Novel by Tom Keneally.

The site aims to provide a score out of 100 based on a weighted average of a book's reviews. Some critics, and some publications, get a higher rating than others, hence the weighting. All of this is pretty subjective, of course, so the more reviews that are included the better. Taking the Keneally novel as a reasonable example: the book's score of 80 (The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst - the 2004 book winner - scored 89) is based on 16 reviews, including notices from "The New Yorker" (US), "The Guardian" (UK), "The Boston Globe" (US) and "The Spectator" (UK). All reviews were from publications or websites based in the US or UK. Sixteen reviews is a pretty good sample (the Hollinghurst score is based on 22) and the final verdicts of the reviews range from "outstanding", from "Publishers Weekly", to "unfavorable", from "The Washington Post."

The site provides a judgement, a brief description, the reviewer's name and a link to the article in question for each review cited. It's early days for the book reviews on this website and we'll have to keep an eye on it to see how it progresses, but I, for one, will be checking it on a pretty regular basis.

Quibbles: I'd like to see a wider range of books under consideration and a wider source of publications.

Kudos: As a review-checking aid it may well prove to be indispensible.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 21, 2005 9:42 AM.

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