Six Tips on Writing Book Reviews
J L Morin's picture

Now that my book is out, I’m savoring the finer reviews―and skipping right over a few others! I’ve combed through (and written) enough book reviews to make a few observations that might help with review writing, and what better place to post them than an award-winning review site with so many young reviewers!


Good reviews are clear, yet fun to read. Letting your distinctive voice come through can add flare to your reviews.


They present the work fresh, without presuming familiarity with the author or genre. Instead, they provide some context for the work, with discussion of the genre, historical importance, related geography… Let us know if it’s a debut novel, part of a series, ghostwritten, or the author’s twentieth novel, and any influences you can detect.


Plot shouldn’t take up most of the review. Summarizing the beginning of the plot to set up the dynamics is fine, without getting into how the various threads get resolved. Questions help pique the reader’s curiosity―Will he notice her? But you want to avoid spoilers.


Let us know your opinion of the book, bringing up details that support your point. Quoting specific sentences can strengthen your case. Discuss how you view the quote, rather than assuming the reader will interpret it the same way you did. Use theoretical concepts were relevant.


Is there anything unique about the book, its structure, themes or politics? If you think the writing is sublime, tell us whether you were taken with the imagery, the detailed description, the rhythm or device such as suspense and characterization. Why is the villain convincing? Is it because his illness is so common today, because of his idiosyncrasies?


Check that the review flows from one point to the next in a logical progression. Don’t tell your reader to turn left three blocks before the traffic light. If something seems out of order, move it to where it goes, either chronologically or developmentally. Be sure that the introduction and conclusion relate to one another and bring your thoughts full circle.

I’ve enjoyed reading through the reviews on this site and am very impressed with many of the insights young reviewers have published here. Write on!

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