After you return home from a vacation or a trip, you are either excited to tell friends and family about your awesome adventure, or you are aching to complain of the disappointments. The activities that you were involved in, the food you ate, the sight-seeing and the sceneries are a few details that you may include. Your review of this trip may have an influence on your audience. Your friends may not want to experience a trip if you described how filthy the hotels were and how horrible the food tasted. They may not want to do any of the activities that you expressed as boring. If you had a great time and everything on your trip or vacation went well, your friends and family will share in that excitement, influencing them to want to take that trip. Writing a review for a book you have read is a lot like giving your ideas and opinions for a trip.
Without spoiling the outcomes, including hints of the main details and events will give your audience an overview and subtle insight on what to expect from the text. Book reviews are to convey opinions, not facts. It is a type of criticism in literature that breaks down and surveys the content and its style, along with its worthiness.
What Should Be Included in a Book Review?
Title, Genre, and Author.
Mentioning other titles by the author or in the genre may give your audience some notion as to what other literature can be compared. Providing your reader with familiar titles will lessen their need to do further research the book in question. Did you feel this book fit in with the intended genre? Does the author make the reader feel included or pulled in? Also, be fair to the author by balancing compliment and criticism. Do some research and include the author’s previous accomplishments and works.
Narrator and Tone.
No matter what point-of-view a story is told from, there is an emotional charge in the narrator’s tone. It may be positive, negative, or indifferent. There are a few things to consider when explaining narration and tone in your book review. Who narrated the story? What point of view was the story told from? What is the narrator’s attitude toward the audience and/or the characters?
Main character(s), Setting, and Plot.
Present the main character(s) and the setting without giving too much away. Remember to sparsely use direct quotes from the author’s text. Give your outlook of how you felt the character was depicted. Create an image of what the time-period was and a brief guideline to the plot, avoiding all key events or details that will ruin the reader’s curiosity.
What was the message? What can or may be learned from this book? Again, without giving away key information, grace your audience with your understanding of the book and its meaning. Also include your view on what type of audience this book is meant for and include the author’s purpose.
May include publication information, edition, ISBN, book list price, special graphs, maps, or illustrations.
Where to Begin
Here are some tips that will help get you going on the right foot:
- Take some time and read a few book reviews from the New York Times, Amazon, or a bookstore that provides reviews.
- While reading the book, take notes as you go along.
- After reading the book, dissect and divide the good and the bad. A cons and pros list may be very helpful. This is a way to make sure you not only critique, but give praise where due.
Although you are the reviewer and not the author, you still need to set your own tone for your review. Your attitude towards the author, the narrator, the characters, and any other elements, play well into giving your opinion. Your beginning sentence should make your audience eager and ready for a preview. A successful book review should grab like a movie trailer. When giving your opinion, you want to express why you did or did not enjoy the book or parts of the book. Point out places where you thought the story could have been better or what you felt the author missed. You are the critic, but stay fair. Are you discouraging or encouraging the audience? Would you suggest this book to others? Would you suggest reading more from this author? Elaborate thoroughly by answering why. This opinion piece is persuasive and influential, and your audience will appreciate the heads up.
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