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How to Write a Book Review

It is quite likely that you have offered up an opinion on a book that you have read at one point or another.

Unfortunately, putting these thoughts down in the form of a review can be an entirely different manner. Thus, if you have ever had to write a book review, you may have been confused about how to go about doing so.

Now, there isn’t a specific structure that you need to follow. The University of Wisconsin has a great article on how to write a review of Literature.

However, if you do want a good, concise, and well-rounded review, there are some elements that you simply must include. Here are the aspects that you will need to concentrate on:

1. Start With a Summary

You will have to start off your book review with a summary. After all, the individuals who are reading your appraisal will not have actually read the story themselves. Thus, before you can give your opinion you will need to give your assessment some context.

  • You do have to be careful when writing this summary, however. To start with, the outline should be brief. Even if the story is rather complex, don’t write more than a paragraph about it.
  • You can do this by avoiding specific details – just stick to the most significant elements of the story.
  • The readers don’t want you to condense the story for them. Instead, they want to know your opinion on the quality of the content as well as the writing. It is up to them to really discover the book for themselves.

On a similar note, you also need to navigate around “spoilers”. Since your audience hasn’t read the book, you can’t reveal any plot twists, major developments, or even the ending. When writing the summary, just focus on setting the tone for the rest of your review.

2. Focus on the Most Important Elements of the Story

It is important to give your review a framework. This way, your audience will be able to easily follow your thought process and grasp the point that you are trying to make. What’s more, it will offer you a pathway to follow as you are writing your analysis.

A simple way to do this is to pick out the most significant aspects of the story.

This may be the characters, the tone, the writing style, the theme, or the world that the writing is creating. It is up to you to decide what parts of the book deserve to be focused on.

Again, when composing your evaluation, it isn’t necessarily up to you to talk about these elements in detail. In fact, you should avoid too much description, in case you give something important away. Rather, you will need to determine how well the author described or handled these situations.

3. Narrow Down Your Opinion

Before you start writing, think about how you actually felt about this book – and why. Did you like it, hate it, or do you feel lackluster about the writing? Of course, it is quite likely that there were parts that you liked and that you didn’t approve of. Note these down.

After considering them, you may be able to decide whether your approval or disapproval of the book is most apparent.

As mentioned, it is also possible that your opinion of it falls somewhere in the middle. Nonetheless, you should identify your inferences rather early on.

The reason that you will need to do this is so that you can structure your review more clearly. For instance, if your opinion was overall a positive one, then you can start with the advantages and then point out some of the flaws.

In the event that you didn’t think much of the book, you can highlight the weak points and then go on to mention a few of the bright spots. Now, there are some reviews that will not have such a clear strategy. The good parts and the bad parts may be interwoven together. Such a tactic, however, takes skill and experience. So, if this is the first time writing a review, you may want to stay away from it.

4. Provide Examples for Your Argument

Anyone can say that a book is good or bad. What makes this opinion valid is if you have proof to back up such a claim. To do this in your review, you should provide examples. As mentioned before, make sure to leave out anything that will give away any major plot points.

Rather use quotes or minor incidents to illustrate your point. For example, imagine that you are trying to describe the main character as stubborn.

Then, focus on a not-too-important situation that shows just how you formed this opinion.

Such an approach can be especially helpful when you are trying to point out flaws in the book. Using actual evidence will prevent you from appearing biased. In fact, it will help you to create a stronger case for your opinion.

5. Create a Strong Conclusion

Your conclusion is essentially a summarization of your thoughts on the book. It is where you reconfirm whether you enjoyed reading the book or not. The conclusion, as with the summary, doesn’t need to be too long. However, the reader shouldn’t be left in any doubt about where you stand regarding this novel.

If you don’t mind making a bold statement, you can also compare the book to a similar, well-known novel.

This will provide the audience with greater context about the book, considering that they have not read it yet.

Such a strategy can also help to highlight the strengths or weaknesses of this particular novel.

Depending on your audience, you may want to end the book review with a rating of some kind. This will work to concisely conclude how you perceived the book.

These are the top tips that you should follow when writing a book review. Of course, depending on the genre and type of view, you may need to make certain adjustments. Overall, though, these guidelines can be used for any book review that you wish to write. Keep these in mind and you should have no trouble constructing a review that is well-written, to the point, and unbiased.