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How to Write a Book Review Overnight

June 5, 2018

How to Write a Book Review Overnight

Are you one of those who are wild about reading and can’t resist a temptation of absorbing a gripping book? The problem is that sometimes it’s a tedious process to find a good quality read in terms of the plot and message it communicates. At this point, detailed book reviews wouldn’t go amiss. So if you stumble across a piece of writing that is worth reading, don’t hesitate to share it with the world! By doing so, you’ll not only polish your writing skills but also help out people who are in quest of a really good read. By publishing your reviews, you can share your ideas with other avid readers and even establish a book club based on common reading interests. 
    Frequently, young people think that book reviews and book reports are identical. In reality, the former is far cry from the latter. Book reports deal with the plot and the sequence of events in a book. The idea behind writing a book report is to show that certain books have been read, so they are often a part of a syllabus in schools. A book review, in its turn, aims to give readers an insight and help them decide whether or not a book would offer them an engaging pastime. Basically, reviews provide a sneak peek at a book without giving away all the juicy details. The main task here is to entice readers into checking it out themselves. 
    If you relish the idea of learning to compose reviews, this article is particularly designed to make you come out as an insightful book reviewer who knows how to meet the reading needs of other book lovers. Dive in to upgrade you reviews writing skills!

Length of the Review   

How long should it be? Well, a definitive answer to this question does not exist. The rule of thumb says that the bigger the book, the longer the review. Note that it’s shouldn’t be shorter than 100 words or so. A long book deserves a review of approximately 500-700 words. 
    While short reviews may fail to fulfill their purpose, lengthy ones tend to reveal too many details of the plot and eventually lose the reader’s interest. The bottom line here is to think less about the length of the review and more about achieving your main goal. 

Creating a Title    

The review’s title should contain a hook and convey your verdict on a book. The examples of proper titles are as follows:
•    “Action-packed storyline for those who seek excitement”
•    “A read with food for thought that will keep you up all night”
•    “A bit of light reading before going to sleep”
•    “A real eye-opener for hopeless people”
Titles doomed to failure may look like this:
•    “A really good read”
•    “Not bad for a thriller”
•    “It deserves five stars”
•    “Pretty good”

How to Write an Introductory Paragraph

In introductions, you have to be careful enough not to get carried away and tell too much. If you summarize the whole plot in the opening paragraph, you’ll fail to keep the intrigue of the reader. Why bother buying and reading a book if you know how it ends? We bet you wouldn’t want to come across a spoiler yourself. Look through the summaries of New York Times reviewers to get the hang of the techniques for your introduction:
“In this novel, after her mother passes away, a young girl finds strength to bounce back and rises to new challenges.”
“An orphan named Nobody Owens grows up in the hillside cemetery rife with ghosts, werewolves, and other not less bizarre creatures. He wonders how he will come through among the living after spending all his life in the realm of the dead. And Jack – the man responsible for killing all members of Nobody’s family – becomes restless seeking ways to finish his job.”
“A new book with colorful illustrations unveils the life of a lonely boy and his dad who make tremendous efforts to help a stranded whale.”
Another viable option to begin your book review is by including a couple of the following aspects:
    Quotes: are there any powerful quotations in the book that will make a difference at the beginning of your review?
    Background information: what makes this book so special and important? Is its author famous for some other pieces of writing? Is it a sequel or a prequel? 
    Meaty facts (it mainly concerns nonfiction stories). Find an interesting piece of information and incorporate it in your introduction. 

General Information

Pick some vital information about the book. These follow-up questions will come in handy while choosing which facts to include:
1.    What genre is this book? (A romantic novel? A historical fiction? Fantasy? Sci-fi?)
2.     Is the book a part of a series? 
3.    Is there any background information about the author that could be helpful for the readers? For example, does the author have sufficient expertise in the field he writes? Is he/she the author of other bestsellers? 
4.    Can you draw an analogy between the book and other works written on the same topic or in the same genre? 
5.    What is the style of writing? Are there any striking attributes of the book related to language or stylistic devices?
6.    What is the target audience of the book?

Storyline

Writing this part of your review may cause many troubles because you have to strike a right balance between the number of plot details, which you disclose, and the reader’s interest. At this point, you should never bring up the ending. No one tolerates spoilers.
    One way to nail this task is by outlining the main idea in an intriguing manner (A brother and a sister end up being at a loss in the woods where an evil witch is up to no good. Will they be able to outmaneuver her and escape?). Alternatively, you may talk about the central conflict in the book without mentioning the resolution part: ‘Sometimes people are not ready to make sacrifices’; ‘Little did he know what fate held for him’; ‘Finding a sense of fulfillment can be as easy as finding a bosom friend’.   

Characters 

Reviews should definitely focus on the characters who are the pillars of a good story. Try answering at least several questions in your review:
1.    Who are the protagonist and antagonist? Describe the main characters.
2.    What is so special about them?
3.     Is their behavior lifelike or their deeds are too kind/evil to be plausible?
4.    What conflicts do they come up against? 
5.    Are they loveable or sympathetic?
6.    What is their relation to each other?
7.    Have they been mentioned in other books?
8.    Do you find any of the characters relatable?
9.    What kind of difficulties do the main characters have to deal with?
10.     Who from the characters impressed you the most? 
We form an opinion about characters from their actions or things they say, as well as judgment of other characters. In this case, you might want to find some quotations that describe the personality of the protagonist, antagonist, and others. 

Theme

    What is the book’s main premise? This does not concern the plot but rather subtle ideas concealed between the lines of the story. It may be about the importance of friends, love, or eternal hope. Other prevalent themes include meeting a challenge, human vices and virtues, desire for power, changes in life, heroism, the vicissitudes of life, etc. 
Often, a book contains a moral – a didactic message from which you learn something. If this is the case, the theme is frequently intertwined with that moral. As you focus on the theme, try to figure out what makes the book invaluable to read. What influence on the reader does it have? Try to look for the lines in the book that you think convey some meaning.  

Viewpoint & Analysis 

In this part, you express your personal point of view and impression of the book. Since this section is vital, you may dedicate half of your review to the evaluation of the story or novel you have recently read. Some possible aspects to address are as follows:
1.    Why do you think this book will be compelling for other readers? Why did you like it or why didn’t you? 
2.    What age groups or types of readers will be drawn to the book?
3.    Are there any striking similarities/dissimilarities between the book and other books written by the same author or in the same genre?
4.    Did the book evoke any emotions while reading? If it made you laugh, cry, or deliberate on something, make sure you include this information.
5.     What can you say about the author’s writing style? Is it exceptional or pedestrian? Is it difficult to follow? 
6.    In your opinion, did the author accomplish all the objectives he/she had set before embarking on writing the book itself? Do you think after reading you had the same thoughts the author expected you to have?
7.    Are there any parts that you find misleading, not believable, or largely exaggerated?
8.    Are there any blunders?
9.    Do you think this book is aimed at self-development, entertainment, or simply information?
10.    What part of the book sparked the most of your interest?
Note: some of the pieces of advice mentioned above are more effective if they are applied to fiction. What’s more, some of them are a bit too difficult to follow for very young reviewers. 

Nonfiction

When writing your feedback on nonfiction literature, the following questions might help:
1.    What was the author’s ulterior motive for writing the book? How well did he/she fulfill his ultimate purpose?
2.    Who is the book tailored to? 
3.     What do you think are the advantages of this book? Does it make a difference? 
4.    Is the information presented in the book accurate?
5.    Is the book able to keep readers on the edge of their seat?
6.    How easy is it to comprehend the author’s ideas?
7.    Are there any visual aids like illustrations, maps, glossaries, etc. that make the book more readable?

Young Reviewers

Reviewing a book is a piece of cake. Just try addressing these questions:
1.    What does this book revolve around? There’s no need to retell the whole story – keep it short and engaging.
2.    Will other readers like it?
3.    Do you think it was entertaining or thought-provoking?
4.    Did you learn any lesson from the book?
5.    Why do you think it was absorbing?
6.    Would you like to read other pieces of literature by the same author or about the same topic?
7.    What part did you like the most?
Remember to keep the ending in secret while talking about the plot details and main characters.

General Tips

 Incorporate a couple of quotes or phrases from the book to support the points you make and generate more interest. If the book has illustrations, make sure you comment on them. Are they any good? 
Don’t forget about a conclusion as you need to drive your point home. It can be one sentence long: ‘Overall, the book may be a real asset to those who seek a source of inspiration’.
If you’re looking for sample reviews, opt for those oriented at youngsters at The New York Times.

Assessing Books 

How to rate books? 
If you want to post your review somewhere on the net, you’re usually asked to rate the book using a star approach (from one to five stars). It’s important to keep in mind that the rating is relevant, so you don’t need to compare the book you’ve read to the best books ever written. 
*****stars: I loved every part of it (this does not necessarily mean that it’s your favorite book)
**** stars: I enjoyed reading it.
***stars: It was a middle-of-the-road read.
**stars: I didn’t like it whatsoever.
*star: I regret reading it. It’s a disaster. 

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How to Write a Book Report

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