A book review is an evaluation of a book. It includes its strengths and weaknesses, context, and your own opinion. It can be a great way to recommend a book or offer insights into your experience as a reader. So, what is a great book review?
Introduction to a great book review
A great book review is one that helps another reader decide whether or not that book is for them. And also does not contain any spoilers.
Writing a review helps you improve your writing, and can be helpful to other writers, not just as a book recommendation but as a piece of writing in itself. Sometimes you come across a book that captures your attention. Or read a book you can’t stop thinking about. If a book intrigues you, writing a review can be a great way to explore it further. It’s an exercise in reading and writing better, and gives you the chance to look deeper at an interesting book.
Book Reviews are important for authors as they also help them sell more copies. Know the Importance of Book Reviews to sell books in India to understand it at length.
But how does one write a great book review? Think about why you were intrigued by a book. What made you want to read it? And what made you want to write a review? This is often a good starting point.
Let’s explore at length how to write a great book review.
14 easy tips you can follow to write a great book review
Talk about the author
Before diving into the essay, introduce the author. Is this the first book of theirs that you have read? If so, what drew your attention to it? Is it a new author or an established one? Give your readers a brief introduction to the author’s body of work.
Remember that the point of writing a book review is not to condemn the writer or the work. Even if you don’t like the book, the criticism should be constructive and respectful. That way, your review is a lot more useful to the author as well as a potential reader of the book.
Keep structure in mind
Your book review, like any essay, needs to be structured well to be effective. It should include a distinct introduction, body, and conclusion.
The main body of the review should include a brief summary of the story. This should be followed by detailed analysis and balanced arguments. The one thing you have to be careful about here is not giving away any spoilers! One of the worst things to do in a book review is to give away plot points. Remember, people might want to read the book after reading your review!
The conclusion of your book review should tie up all your points, and leave the reader with a clear opinion. Often, a rating at the end of the book review is appreciated.
Basic information about the book should come before the brief summary. This includes the name of the author, the publishing company, and the year or date of its publication. Is the book part of a series? Is it the writer’s first book? These are important details along with a link to where the book can be bought from.
Understand what you are trying to do
Before you begin writing your review, ask yourself what the goal is. Do you feel strongly about the book and want to express its impact on you to potential readers? Did the book make you think and you want to explore the details of what worked and what didn’t work? Whatever your goal is, make sure you’re absolutely clear on what it is. This gives you a central point around which to build your essay.
Remember that it is not a summary
Fundamentally a book review is an opinion piece. Just summarizing the story defeats the purpose completely. It’s important to remember that people have not come to read a compressed version of the story. You will have to include a basic summary before the analysis, but that is to provide context. Even when writing this, be careful about not giving any spoilers. Just introduce the premise of the book and the main characters.
It is extremely important to include potential trigger warnings early on. Do this before you start discussing the book. Anything that might be disturbing or trigger trauma should be clearly marked out.
Give a balanced opinion
Readers are generally interested in a balanced argument- and not just general statements. For example, if you disliked a book, a general statement like “not worth reading” is not helpful. Write about the details of what you think did not work. Provide examples and constructive criticism. Remember though. a balanced argument should not obstruct your overall opinion.
Mention the genre the book belongs to, and explain it briefly. As general as it is, readers may find it helpful to determine if they want to read the book. For example, if you mention that it is a horror story, many people immediately know if they want to read the book or not. You can also go a step further and think of similar books, and recommend them to fans of those books.
If you are posting your review on social media, it might even be a good idea to add similar books in the hashtags. This will attract people who are already interested in a certain genre.
The plot is central to any book, so you need to include your opinion of it.
Did the book keep you engaged from beginning to end? Or were there parts where your attention wandered? Was it fast-paced or did the story proceed slowly? Did you notice any plot holes? Would you say the book was well edited? The answers to these questions are interesting and helpful insights into the book.
Writing in the book
Most readers know this feeling. The frustration of reading a book with an excellent plot that is so badly written that they can’t enjoy it. How good the writer is at the craft of writing has a big role to play in how effective any book is. Analyze the quality of the writing itself in the novel. What worked and what took away from the desired effect? Pay attention to the style of the writer and how it affects the story. Has it been written in the first person? Third-person? How does that make a difference to your experience as a reader?
Writing in your review
While we are on the subject of writing- make sure you get the basics right while writing your review! Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Ensure that your writing is easy to understand.
Firm personal recommendation
After providing a balanced argument, give them your personal recommendation. What do you think of the book? At the end of the day, they are going to want a clear message from you. So your review, while providing balanced opinions, should be either negative or positive.
A rating is often appreciated
A rating is a clear indication of your opinion of the book.
If you are uploading your review on a website like Goodreads or Amazon, a rating is often required. Many websites (Amazon, Goodreads, etc.) have their own systems in place- you might have to rate a book out of ten or give it stars out of five.
One thing you must keep in mind while rating any book is to make sure that your rating matches your review. For example, if your review has been very positive, but you give the book a low rating, your review is confusing. The readers are left wondering what went wrong and where. This also works the other way around- if the tone of your review is critical, then your rating should match it.
Congratulations, you have all the tools to write a great book review now. Pick up the latest book you read and get started!