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How to Write: Book Review

#Get Started

Are your friends always asking you for a book recommendation? Do you find yourself bumping into walls all of the time because you simply cannot take your nose out of a great book?

Try writing a book review! Lots of people seek out book reviews when they are deciding what to read—that way, they don’t have to waste their time on a book of low quality or one that does not suit their age or interest. The key to writing a great book review is to realize that the work starts before you even pick up the book. Follow this plan for help:

Before reading:

  • Reflect on what good qualities you are looking for in this particular book. This varies by book: for example, if you are reading a novel, you might care more about how gripping the book is (meaning that you can’t put it down) or whether you like the main characters. If you are reading a mystery book you would care more about whether the plot twists are easy to guess or not. Before you start reading, set up a notebook for yourself so that you can write down moments that stick out to you in the book. Divide the notebook up into sections such as writing style, characters, plot, your opinion, etc.
  • Read book reviews written by professionals of books you have already read. Pay attention to: how much information they give about what happens in the book (plot summary), what aspects of the book they comment on, and how they respectfully and constructively talk about what they liked and didn’t like.

While you read:

  • Take notes! Then it will be much easier to write your review later.
    • After each chapter, jot down a quick one sentence summary of what happened.
    • Keep a running list of each new character. Write down their name and how they are described when they are introduced and note any changes they go through during the story.
    • Write down the page numbers of key moments or quotes from the book that you may want to reference in your review. These could be favourite or least favourite scenes or examples of the author’s writing style that you liked or didn’t like.
    • Most importantly, write down your impressions of the book. These include
      • Favourite and least favourite scenes
      • Whether you like the characters and whether they seem realistic to you (Do they remind you of people you know)
      • Whether you predicted major plot twists and the ending or if they surprised you.

After: Write your review!

  • In the beginning of the review, you want to include the book’ title, author, and publisher so that it is easy for readers to find the book. You may also want to start off with an interesting introductory sentence: a question, an interesting quote from the book, a quick tagline that states who might like the book, anything that draws the reader in!
  • Then include a brief plot summary, about 3-6 sentences. Don’t give away the ending! Include in your summary who the main characters are with brief descriptions that include how each relates to the protagonist (main character).
  • What were the book’s strengths and weaknesses? This doesn’t have to be your favourite scenes in the book necessarily, it is anything that made the book great (engaging dialogue or vivid descriptions of the setting for example) and how you think the book could be improved. When you are saying what could be improved, make sure this relates to all readers, not just you. For example,” I don’t like cats, so I wish the main character was not a cat,” is not as helpful to your readers as “the author uses terms about cats that the average reader would not understand, I wish the book was written to include non-cat-lovers too.”
  • Other questions to address in your review:
    • Is the book typical of its genre? If not, what makes it different?
    • Did you feel like you were there with the characters? Were you absorbed by the book and felt like you couldn’t put it down?
    • Did you root for the main characters to succeed? Were they realistic? Did they remind you of people you know?
    • Did you like the author’s writing style? Was the writing easy to understand and fun to read? Did it use interesting but not too difficult vocabulary?
  • Next, suggest who would like this book. Would the book appeal even to those who aren’t interested in its subject matter? For example, if it were set in Ancient Egypt would readers who aren’t history lovers still like it? Also include the number of pages and what age group you think the book is appropriate for.
  • Extras!
    • Rate the book (out of 5 stars, for example)
    • Do some background research on the author to give a little context to your review, like what inspired them to write a certain story or initially made them interested in the subject.

Read a good book lately? Write a book review of it and send it to us! You could be featured in our blog!