How to Write a Book Review

Book reviews are descriptions, critical analysis, and evaluations on the quality, meaning, significance of a particular book, but not a retelling. They should focus on the books' purposes, and content. Critical book reviews are not book reports or summaries. They are reaction papers in which strengths and weaknesses of the book material are analyzed. They should include a specific statement of what the author tried to do, evaluate how well the author succeeded, and present evidence to support that evaluation.

There is no single way to write a book review. A book review is highly personal and reflects the opinion of the reviewer. The reviews can be as small as 50-100 words, or as big as 1500 words - it all depends on the purpose of the review.

Standard Procedures of Book Review Writing

Book review

  1. Create a statement that gives important information about the book: author, title, first copyright date, general subject matter, type of book, price, etc.
  2. State the purpose of the author in writing the book. Sometimes authors may state their purpose in the first chapter or in the preface.
  3. Consider the thesis and the theme of the book.
  4. Explain the approach of development - the method the author uses to support their thesis.
  5. Evaluate the book for accuracy, interest, objectivity, thoroughness, importance, and usefulness to the intended audience.
  6. Try to find additional information about the author - qualifications, reputation, influences, biographical, and so on.
  7. If relevant, notice the book's format – binding, layout, typography, and so forth.
  8. Summarize (in short), analyze, comment on the content of the book. Write your general conclusions. Also pay attention to the concluding chapter.

Considerations in a Book Review of Specific Genre

Writing a book review on fiction

  1. From what resources are the characters drawn?
  2. What's the attitude of the author toward his or her characters?
  3. Are the author's characters flat or not?
  4. Does character development occur?
  1. What is the major theme?
  2. How is it revealed and developed?
  3. Is this theme traditional, or new and original?

Book review

  1. How are different elements of the plot handled?
  2. What are the factors of mystery and suspense?
  3. Is there a sub-plot? If so, how is it related to the general plot?
  4. Is the plot primary to other important elements of the story?
  1. What are the "intellectual qualities" of the writing?
  2. What are the "emotional qualities" of the writing?
  3. What are the "aesthetic qualities" of the writing?
  4. What stylistic devices are in the book?
  1. What's the setting - does it play an important role in the book?
  2. What scenic effects are in the book - how important and effective are they?
  3. Does the setting influence the characters or the plot somehow?

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