Immerse or Die

I realised earlier this week that I hadn’t mentioned the other review project with which I am involved: Immerse or Die. So I am hijacking my review slot to give some details.

As I wrote on Monday, if a book is strong in one area it is easier to forgive potential issues in another.

However, sometimes those issues can distract from the good areas. So, Jefferson Smith created Immerse or Die. Unlike the reviews I publish here, it focuses entirely on whether a book can last 40:00 minutes without the reviewer losing immersion in the story three times.

Anything that makes the reviewer actively aware they are reading could trigger a loss of immersion: Lack of speech attribution makes the reviewer go back to unravel who is speaking? Missing punctuation makes a phrase ambiguous? A character is named after a famous actor?

To survive, a book needs to keep the reviewer reading for 40:00 minutes without a third loss of immersion. To excel a book needs to keep the reviewer immersed for 40:00 minutes.

While this might seem (and in some ways is) a harsh test, it is also a useful insight for both authors and readers:

  • Authors gain insight into the reasons readers lose the flow of a story, so they can better immerse readers.

  • Readers gain insight into potential issues with a book.

And in the end it is also a very narrow test:

  • Not everyone (myself included) needs to stay immersed all the time to enjoy a book; I have greatly enjoyed many of the books that didn’t keep me immersed for 40:00 minutes.

  • Not everyone is bothered by the same issues, so it is only ever one person’s perspective.

I will continue to post my considered reviews of books here, but if you want a more hard-line assessment try Immerse or Die.


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