You will find that for most books (especially those books with legitimate reviews), some people absolutely worship the book; however, some folks despised it. Most books will have the complete range of ratings, from five stars all the way down to one star (I offer no commentary on books with nothing but five star ratings, other than to say that I recently read a review of the seminal book on law school, "The Bramble Bush" by Karl Lewellyn that totally trashed this indisputable masterpiece. It is therefore hard to imagine more contemporary works that universally delight all readers).
Pay special attention to reviews written by people with prefatory comments like "I'm now in my second semester of law school" or something similar. Those reviews are the ones where I believe you will likely find meaningful comments. Law student reviews are also where you are most likely to find negative criticism about a particular book.
Some of the best-selling law school books are also those with some of the most vitrolic reviews. I believe this is because many law students mistakenly believe throughout their law school careers that there is a "holy grail" book out there somewhere. If they can just find it, they will make endless A's and A+'s, effortlessly.
These misguided students engage in this fantasy thinking because after a semester or so of law school they are faced with the harsh reality of their own intellectual limitations. These students are used to landing at the top of their classes, based upon their ability to memorize and regurgitate information; the classic undergraduate study model. When they make their first "Cs" in law school, especially if they have read a book that purports to give then an "insider view" of law school, they naturally blame the book for giving them bad information.
As I explain in "Law School Labyrinth" (Kaplan Publishing, 2009), there are no holy grails in law school. In law school, you learn to "think like a lawyer" largely by engaging in self-teaching. If you follow your undergraduate study model, you will likely survive law school, but chances are, you will not graduate anywhere near where you think you should be, in terms of class rank. Instead, the purpose of the Labyrinth is to teach you how to figure things out for yourself. If you cannot step back and see the forest for the trees in law school, and understand the process, you will likely earn mediocre grades.
As I stress in "Law School Labyrinth", law school is all about the process. Law school outlines teach you how to organize and digest information; the content is certainly important, but the outlining process is infinitely more important than the output. Similarly, law school exams are about showcasing your ability to think like a lawyer, amid a sea of facts, red herrings and extraneous information. No book or commercial outline can teach you this- you must learn it on your own.
So, if you are looking for a book that will tell you which are the best commercial outlines, you will be disappointed. Every law student is different and responds differently to the various materials. There is no "holy grail" outline for a particular subject. If you think you have one and make a "C" on your exam, it's not the outline's fault. Your "C" means that either you haven't mastered the subject or you simply cannot effectively communicate in writing your ability to think like a lawyer.
Obviously I have a strong bias for "Law School Labyrinth." I wrote the book to level the playing field a bit and share insights I have gained after entering law school as a non-traditional student, passing two bar exams and working for a number of years in law firms and as in-house counsel. My aim of the book is to help you develop your own strategy of attack for law school. You need to have a strategy well before you ever set foot in law school. Because first-year grades are so important, you cannot waste a minute getting your bearings.
But do not be fooled into thinking that my book (or any book) will give you a secret shortcut to success. Learning legal analysis is a step-by-step proposition, sort of like learning to ride a bicycle. You will struggle, wobble, and probably fall of the bike a few times. But if you understand the basic goal and what it takes to get there, eventually you will succeed.
Best wishes in your legal career.