A book review is a short evaluation of the plot, style of writing, strong and weak sides. Usually, a book review is written about a recent work, and this assignment is given to college or university students. However, such pieces of writing may also appear in newspapers, magazines or journals.
A length of a book review should be from 500 to 700 words, and it should be focused on the impressions from the literary work, reasons to read it or not and information about the place of purchasing.
Before You Read
There are certain elements, which should be included in the review, and it is better to pay attention to them before you start reading. They are:
- Author: try to find the answer to the following questions: Who is the author? What kind of literature does he or she represent? Does he or she have any awards? What else has the author written? What style does he or she use?
- Genre: find out the genre of the work, what people like to read literary work of this genre, the purpose of writing the books of this genre;
- Title: is there any interesting story beyond the title? What does it mean?
- Preface/ Table of Contents: is there any introduction to the story? Why is it necessary?
- Cover, Printing: is there anything interesting about the typography of the book?
While You Are Reading
It is good to take a pencil and make notes about key points in the process of reading:
- Characters: Is there any characters in the work? What is their role? Are they interesting? Do you like their stories? Do you sympathize them?
- Motifs/Themes/Style: What themes and motifs does the author introduce in the text? Why does he or she do this? What is their influence on the reader? Is it easy for all readers to understand them?
- Argument: what is the argument in the book? How does the author support the argument?
- Ideas: What is the main idea in the book? Are there any other ideas? Are they good, neutral or bad?
- Quotes: Are there any quotes which you like or which make you think? Can you feel the author style in these quotes?
When You Write
When you write a book review, you should start with a short summary for readers to understand what this book is about. Do not go too far, as you do not have to retell the whole story. You may limit it to a couple of chapters and start writing about:
- The book's background and main characters. Do not forget that your audience has not read the work. Your purpose is to engage the reader and make it interested in the book so that they want to read it in the end;
- Some minor issues. Explain why they are important. What impact do they have to the plot?
- The main purpose of a book review is to analyze the work critically and provide the audience with the reasons why to read or not to read the book. Make sure your summary is short and there is a space for the evaluation. Usually, your review should be divided into two parts: summary of the plot and your opinion about it);
- Choose several point to discuss, compare them with other books of the same author or with books of other authors, but of the same genre. Explain the themes, symbols, motifs in the text;
- At the end of the review you may include the information about the publisher, the year of publishing, the price and bookstores to buy it.