Many people find it difficult to write book reviews and often end up confused over what is expected from it. To be entirely honest the term ‘book review’ in itself is often misused, which only furthers the confusion and leads to several common mistakes.
Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as helpful as knowing what to do – which is why you should try to avoid these 4 mistakes when writing a book review:
1. Summarizing the contents of the book
Unlike a synopsis or summary, a book review is meant to analyze the content and style of the book – not summarize it entirely. While some parts of the book will definitely need to be summarized as part of the analysis, the focus should be on the analysis itself and the theme, setting, and effect of the book.
2. Giving away the plot twist or ending
While both the plot twist and ending are undoubtedly important elements in any book review and would need to be analyzed, a good review will not ‘spoil’ them. For example, a book review should note how good the ending or plot twist was, whether it was surprising or expected and whether it formed a suitable conclusion – without revealing any of the details of what that ending or plot twist entailed.
3. Placing too much emphasis on the author
When writing a book review from a famous author or one that you like you may inadvertently end up placing a bit too much emphasis on the author as opposed to the book. That should be avoided, especially if you start to stray into speculation about the author’s motivations or ideological stance. It is fine to critique the author’s style or approach (or even contrast it with other works), but anything beyond that should be handled carefully.
4. Organizing the review poorly
Just like any piece of writing a book review needs to be organized so that it guides the reader through the book. Although there is no fixed structure for book reviews, you should try to make sure that whatever structure you choose to use organizes the points that you’re putting across so that they make sense. It is also important that the review’s structure is balanced and covers all the relevant areas properly.
As with most things, the best way to get better at writing book reviews is to practice. Also, it helps if you read good book reviews as well, to see the approach that they use and learn from it. It is easy enough to find good book reviews – especially those written by professional reviewers in top magazines, newspapers, and so on.