For people who love reading, discussing about a book can be an enriching and exhilarating process. But many a time it can be difficult to find fellow book lovers. Joining a book community where we can discuss books can help feed that appetite of a true book lover. Nowadays, there are many such communities which include not only book clubs, but also online ones as in social media channels like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. This is where book reviews come in as members review a book and present it to their community besides the additional option of publishing in magazines and newspapers. This helps members know what to expect in a book while at the same time stimulate discussions about the finer as well as the weaker points of the book. Book reviews also make your online channels powerful as more book lovers gravitate towards them. It establishes relationships with publishers as most of them seek reviews and also helps build careers when these online channels are monetised, propelled by a growing list of subscribers. Personal development-wise it enhances writing skills and promotes critical thinking as you will be reading with the intention of analysing the argument of the book and then go about to explain it with clarity and structure.
So let’s see what we must keep in mind when we write a book review.
First, you have to mention the genre of the book – whether the book is fantasy, paranormal or a sci-fi so that the readers know what kind of book to expect.
Secondly, list the title, author and summarise the story briefly by talking about the characters, conflict and the goal of the story. The conflict will talk about the kind of conditions the characters are exposed to and the obstacles they face while the goal will focus on how they try to resolve their problems.
Thirdly, analyse the point of view in which the book has been written. Is it first person, second person or third person point of view?
Fourthly, you must mention about the setting of the story as the personalities of the characters are often affected by the general mood that the story evokes.
Fifthly, mention about the theme, which is the central message of the story. Maybe it talks about the battle of good over evil or a political rivalry between different ideologies or simply about human frailties. You can also mention the metaphor, simile or symbolism used to emphasise the theme of the story.
Sixthly, you can talk about the pacing of the story whether it is action-oriented or slow-paced. Did the tension build up as per the action scenes of the story?
Seventhly, we need to analyse the character development in the story. Does the story have round characters meaning fully developed ones which learn, grow or deteriorate as per the changes in the story or are they simply flat one dimensional characters?
Eighthly, you can mention about the quality of writing whether it is coherent, concise and original. Is it too wordy and over emphasised or succinct and to the point?
Once you have analysed and evaluated the book, you have to mention your own reaction to it. Was it entertaining, mysterious or eerie? Did you like it or why did you rate it the way you did? Did the book raise issues or awareness? Talk about the author’s perspective on the issue and whether you agree or not agree to it. You can end the review by mentioning about the final feeling the book evoked in you and whether the issues were relatable to everyday life.
On a final note, remember to be kind to the author. You are here to critique the book, not the author. You are reviewing a book which has been written as per the author’s imagination and not as per what you would like the book to be. In a review you are encouraged to expose the shortcomings of a book but not criticise it for being something that it never intended to be in the first place. Thus, you can have a well balanced review with logically backed up explanations for every agreement or disagreement that you mentioned.
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