Saturday, December 27, 2008

Different Ways to Review Books

You've already been asked to review books on this blog, and the assumption is that you already know how to review books, whether you learned the skill in high school or on the job. However, there are actually techniques to review books, and there are several questions that you can ask yourself as you are reading. When you answer these questions, you can then start writing a book review that is filled with criticism, not a simple relaying of the story that you read.

Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself while reading. If you can, print them out and write your answers down as you read:

1. AUTHOR AND TONE: Who is the author, and what is his or her tone? Does it fit the book's plot and theme?

2. DIALOGUE: How well-crafted is the dialogue? Do characters have their own tones, or does everyone sound alike? Is the dialogue well written, or do conversations sound stilted? Is the language that the characters use appropriate to the setting, plot, and themes of the book?

3. PLOT: How plausible is the plot? Does the story flow well, or is it forced? Are there any loopholes?

4. SETTING: Could this story have been set in any other time and place, and would it still have turned out the same? How unique is the story to the setting?

5. CHARACTERS: How well formed are the characters? Do all the characters act alike? Are they moving the plot along, or are they being moved, helplessly, by the plot? Who stands out? Who doesn't?

6. EMOTIONS: Did the book excite you, move you, make you want to read more, make you sad that it all ended? Or was the book dragging, ordinary, unable to elicit any emotions, and one that you could not wait to put down?

7. IMPROVEMENTS: How would you have made the book better?

8. WRITING: What are the book's high moments? What are the book's low moments? (Here, “high” and “low” mean periods of great writing and periods of poor writing, respectively. They do not refer to exciting or dragging parts of the book) How well-edited is the book in terms of grammar, punctuation, and syntax?

9. RECOMMENDATIONS: Would you recommend this book to other readers? What kinds of readers will like this book? What kinds of readers will not?

10. OVERALL CRITIQUE: Did you like the book? Why or why not?

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