Writing a short, honest book review can sometimes feel a little daunting. For starters, where to begin with what you liked (or didn’t like)? What aspects of the book do you highlight? How do you write something more specific than, “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it”?
Here are three starting places that can help in writing a succinct, authentic book review:
- What is one specific scene or quality of the book that stuck out? Did this book have particularly good writing or vivid imagery? Was there one scene that really stuck out or stayed with you in the days after reading it? Conversely, was there some quality to the book that popped you out of the story (inconsistent writing, characters behaving unbelievably, etc.)? All of these things, good and bad, help when writing an honest review.
- If you had to pick 3 words to describe the book to a friend, what would they be? Some books are slower paced and contemplative. Others have neck-breaking action from the first sentence to the final page. Still others have lots of fun adventure while hitting the heartstrings. No two books are alike, and each will have their own flavor or personality–even if the book is written by the same author! For example, my 3 words to describe Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings would be epic, human, and fantastical; but to describe The Hobbit, I would say playful, slightly wistful, and adventurous. What words best fit the story you just read?
- Is there another story that this book reminds you of? When all else fails, what other stories does this book remind you of? It might be that this book makes you nostalgic for the fun action-adventure movies of the 80s. It may be that the book reminds you of the sweeping drama and human relationships of something like Les Miserables. Maybe the book has the magical feel of something like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Drawing a comparison to another well known story can sometimes help the review communicate to others how the book struck you when you read it … and therefore help them know if they might love it, too!
More than anything, writing a good review mostly takes practice, even if you start from a place of saying, “I really liked this book AND ….”
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks to write an effective book review?