You may be a devoted bookworm, or maybe just a reader who wishes to share your thoughts about the most recent book you’ve read. Well, writing down your thoughts and turning them into a book review is a wonderful way to share it with your friends or fellow readers.
Maybe you’re reviewing a book for Goodreads, your blog, or simply for Instagram – the final goal should be the same. Your book review has to be informative and helpful for your readers. So, here are some essential tips on how to write an engaging book review.
What’s in a Book Review
Writing a book review is a lot easier if you know how to structure it. There are a lot of different ways you can do that. For example, we believe there are (at least) 5 elements every review should have:
- Book Information
- Plot Summary
- Your Praise and Critique
- Your Rating
Important Book Info
Every book has important, necessary information that should be shared with other readers. Those are the title and the author (obviously), but also the year it was published, and publishing house. Good practice is to mention if the book is standalone or part of the series.
You can also start your book review with a “hook”, catchy line that will intrigue the readers, as Grammarly suggests.
After you have written down the most important book info, it’s time to give a short synopsis of the plot to your readers. Point is to give an idea of what the book is about, but without revealing crucial moments that might spoil reading experience. In short, imagine yourself describing to your friend what the book is about.
Instead of giving away a spoiler, try to use phrases like “sudden twist”, “unexpected turn” and such. If you do choose to write about certain spoiler, remember to give your readers a heads-up, possibly in caps lock ☺
Next thing(s) you should mention: every story (novel) consists of five main elements. There can be even five more advance elements, depending on the novel structure. Whenever you get stuck with writing the review, it is good idea to recognize these elements in your read and write a little bit something about them. Let’s name eight of them you’ll most likely come upon:
Setting can represent both the physical location but also the time (i.e. past, present, future). Where is the story placed? When in time?
Character carries the story, there can be Main characters and Secondary characters. How are characters developing trough the story? Are they written realistically?
Conflict can be a challenge or problem around which the plot is based.
Theme is the central argument that the author is trying to make. It is usually the “why” of the story.
Point-of-view is figuring out “Who” is telling the story? First person (“I”) or third person (“he/she/it”). There also can be multiple perspectives – many characters’ perspectives. Omniscient narrator is known as all knowing narrator.
Tone is the overall emotional “tone” or meaning of the story. Is it happy, funny, sad, depressed? It can be portrayed in many ways, through word and grammar choices, choice of theme, imagery and description, symbolism, etc.
Style is how things are said. Word choices, sentence structure, dialogue, metaphors… Style contributes significantly to tone.
Your Praise and/or Critique
While you should always try to be objective when writing about previous sections, this is where you can as subjective as you wish. What is your personal take on the book? How was is written? Did you enjoy it, or was it unnecessarily prolonged?
Simply saying a book was “good” or “bad”, or that you liked it or didn’t, isn’t much helpful. Try to give examples with your arguments. Such details are always helpful to other readers.
After sharing your praise and critique, let your readers know your conclusions. Who do you think would enjoy this book?
Most readers like to rate their reads, but make sure to explain your rationale for choosing a particular rating.
While this is perfectly okay for rating sites (like Goodreads) or your own blog, most literary magazines won’t be expecting the rating.
Hope I’d help you a bit with writing book reviews! If you liked the article, don’t forget to share it ♡