Are you glad I’m not talking about commas again today? 🙂
A while ago (last year?), I read the following in a review of a novel: “[The author] also vastly overuses italics and is inconsistent in their use (sometimes the italics represent thoughts, yet other times a character will deliver one line of dialogue in italics and another in normal print, often on the same page or even in the same paragraph).”
Overall, it was a positive review, and I’m sure the author is pleased with it. On the other hand, the editor ought to be a bit annoyed, seeing fault found where no fault exists.
Oh, wait — the editor is annoyed.
These uses of italics are not wrong. It is not ‘over-using’ italics to use them in all the ways that are correct and necessary in the writing. To say so is like saying that, if you use commas in compound sentences, you shouldn’t use them to separate items in a list as well.
Standard uses of italics include foreign words, strong emphasis, character thoughts (this one is optional — there’s no rule of any sort for how to indicate character thoughts — although it is a very common usage, and less confusing than using quotation marks as with dialogue)… and, of course, titles of books and movies and periodicals and music albums, plus the names of ships (yes, even starships). Nowhere is there any rule (or even guideline) that says an author should pick just one of these uses and ignore all the others.
Any professional book reviewer ought to know these things.