Most reviews in major newspapers and magazines get 1,000 words at most, and with such little space there's barely enough room to discuss a book's merits, let alone get into remarkably complex subjects like the psychology of writing. It's best just to leave that stuff out because all you'll be able to do is toss off half-assed thoughts that divert from the substance of the review: discussing the book under consideration. Who cares if it's less lively that way? That's not what book reviews are for.
Basically, if you want lively book talk, then you go to blogs. If you haven't noticed, we stock pretty well in half-assed thoughts, grandiose statements, and liveliness. Those are the sort of the things that we can get away with because this is a much more conversational, low-key medium. Book reviews are a very different entity, and I think some liveliness should be sacrificed in order to say something more well-argued.
- Scott Esposito, on his weblog Conversational Reading