Thursday, March 1, 2012

How To Write a Good Book Review


Let me make it clear that just because the title reads "how to..." doesn't mean I consider myself some sort of an expert on writing book reviews. In reality, I am not even close to mastering it. I am writing this post merely to express what I consider to be a good book review and to state a couple of things (literally) that I try to keep in mind while writing book reviews; not to mention, get your views on the topic!

1. Avoid Spoilers! It took me a long time to learn how to summarize books without accidentally including spoilers. Personally, finding out the suspense or a plot twist doesn't really affect my reading experience much. But I know people who are entirely capable of holding life-long grudges because you accidentally told them who dies at the end of Harry Potter.

There is one thing related to this that irritates me very much, and that is a spoiler alert! Something written in the background colour, which can't be read unless it is highlighted; or in some cases, the words SPOILER ALERT written in bold block letters (followed by a thousand exclamation points) and then the whole plot and twists and everything that should have been withheld spilled out. Such a review just seems very amateur-ish (not that reviewing books is my profession.) Also, anything that comes with a spoiler-alert is probably unnecessary. A good summary, for me, is one that can make a person want to read the book and at the same time, keep much of the plot a mystery.

2. Be impartial; that's the first rule of writing a review, at least for me. If you don't like something, don't be afraid to say it. I understand that every writer puts a lot of effort in his book; but you can't let that affect your review!
That being said, I don't like reviews that are too harsh, especially in a vague way. You can't just say "That book is horrible" or "You shouldn't read it!" or "It shouldn't have been published" or simply "It sucks" and expect that to suffice. There has to be a reason behind your not liking something, and it is your job as a reviewer to discover that reason and along with that, a reasonable way to express it.
While we're on the topic of being impartial, "It's awesome" isn't a sufficient reason to recommend a book either (something that I am still working on!)

What about you? What are your expectations from a book reviewer, what sort of reviews do you like and what do you consider to be a good book review??

P.S. - Apparently, today is World Book Day. Not that I need to reserve just a day to celebrate my love for books; nevertheless wish you a Happy Book Day and happy reading!

18 comments:

Abhinav said...

Good points

ankitthereviewer said...

Will Remember it!!

Priya said...

Thanks! Those are only two points, I'd like to know what else you think is important!
Glad you stopped by...!

Priya said...

What about you, any suggestions? Thanks for stopping by!

Sunny said...

OMG!! Someone dies at the end of Harry Potter?!?!

Just Kidding!! This is a great idea and I hope you follow-up occasionally as you discover more points. I agree about the spoiler alert warnings, mainly because I just plow right over them like they weren't even there. The most difficult thing for me is trying to discuss a 3rd or 4th book in a series without spoiling the books that came before. It can be tricky, and I certainly struggle with that.
Good post though!!

ankitthereviewer said...

eh, you deleted my comment???

Priya said...

No.. not really! Must be some glitch in the template... Sorry!

ankitthereviewer said...

No problem!!

Priya said...

And that's why I made it a point not to mention who dies...!

Thanks, though! There can be so many more things to watch out for; right now, these are the ones that keep bugging me every time I read or write a review.

You're right, it's tricky. I guess you can't avoid a few 'spoilers' when it's a later book in the series; but it's understandable. Mostly, though, they're just unnecessary!

rads said...

Hmm dat is so true...I've had this prob in the beginning too...thanks for the post :)

ankitthereviewer said...

I have made a habit of writing my thoughts while reading the novel. Some time my emotions, some time my expectation, some time how i am liking the novel till the particular page etc. Then I summarize those points after completing the novel and that becomes my review. I write what comes in mind. I am very amateur in review world!!

Jyoti said...

These two points holds good to me too. I try not to give out spoilers and I don't like writing harsh reviews. Even though there are books that disappoint me. Btw, didn't know it's world book day.. Wish u the same! Cheers

Priya said...

Thanks! I hope I keep writing reviews long enough to be able to say that; that I had this problem in the beginning!! :)

Priya said...

Good to know I'm not the only one who has these problems! Thanks!
I am not sure if the World Book Day was official, some say it's in April! Glad you stopped by :)

Gopinath Sekar said...

But I know people who are entirely capable of holding life-long grudges because you accidentally told them who dies at the end of Harry Potter.

hahaha this line is very much apt for me... and very good work with the post. Lets hope the authors remember them while writing their books.

Gopinath Sekar said...

i meant the blog authors remembers them while writing their reviews :P my mistake

Gopinath Sekar said...

My mistake :P I meant the blog authors should remember them while writing their posts. :D

Priya said...

Ya, I figured! Thanks! :)

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