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What Is a Review? How to Write a Book Review?

A book review is a school assignment that analyzes, describes, and evaluates a particular piece of literature. Although this paper is based on a publication, it still conveys the student’s personal opinion.

Most students think they know how to write a good book review. They just read the assigned literature and write what they think about it, right? Wrong! That’s how you write a review on Goodreads. But if we’re talking about a book review essay that you write for school, things are a bit different.

This has to be a specifically structured assignment. It’s not all about the format, though. The project should also be written in academic style. You can’t express yourself casually when writing an academic paper. In addition, you have to be very detailed. Saying “I liked it very much” is far from enough.

So how do you write a great book review? We’ll give you good tips that help you go through this challenge. At the end of the article, we’ll provide a short example of book review, just to give you a better idea of how this assignment should look like.

The Format of Book Review

In order to write an appropriate review, you have to follow a specific format. It is slightly different from a typical essay. These are the sections you need to cover:

Introduction

Content summary

Your own discussion

Conclusion

Since you’re not writing a freestyle review, it’s really important to compose an outline. The outline will give you all hints you need, so the writing process will be as effortless as possible.

Before you get to the point of writing an outline, you’ll have to read that publication. Of course that’s a necessary thing to do. Online reviews and study guides may give you information about the plot, but it’s hard to form your own opinions when you don’t get the author’s vibe from the book itself. 

During the reading process, you’ll be taking tons of notes. Then, you’ll use those note to write the main points in your outline. After that, you’ll just need to follow that format to fill in the gaps.

How to Start the Paper

The introduction should immediately get the reader’s attention. That’s why you need a hook for a book review. This may be an anecdote that involves the writer, a specific moment that made a huge impression on you, or simply a quote.

The introduction is usually the hardest part to write. Needless to say, it’s necessary so you can’t skip it. It acts as a bridge that takes your reader from the title towards the deeper elements of the review.

This is what you should include in the introduction:

  • The title, the author’s name, and the main theme.
  • General information about the genre.
  • The thesis of the book. What’s the author’s main idea?
  • Your own thesis of book review. The thesis statement should express your own point of view.

How to Write the Main Part of Your Book Review

The main part of the book review is consisted of two elements:

  • Content Summary

The content summary is not the point of this project, but it’s still necessary. Imagine you’re writing this assignment for someone who hasn’t read the book. First, you want to tell them what it’s about, and only then you can share your own opinions.

This is a brief section, which usually takes a single paragraph of the paper.

  • Discussion

This is the main part of the format. In the discussion, you’ll provide your analysis and you’ll evaluate the author’s work from your own point of view. You may write several paragraphs, making sure each one of them starts with a topic sentence.

How to Finish the Book Review

Finally, it’s time for the conclusion of book review. This part is all about making a strong impression that lasts. You’ll restate your thesis statement, but in a way that shows how you proved it through the discussion.

In the concluding paragraph, it’s important to achieve a balance between the book’s strengths and weaknesses. If there are any opposing points in your discussion, connect the threads and make your final judgment.

Remember: you don’t have to pretend like you loved it. You’re not getting paid by an author to write a review in their favor. In fact, your professor expects honest opinions. So you’re allowed to be entirely genuine when recommending or criticizing the book at the end.

Good Example of Book Review

We asked one of our writers to write a sample, and she made an unusual choice of a piece. Check it out:

Book Review: The Diary of a Chambermaid by Octave Mirbeau

“As soon as I find myself in the presence of a rich man, I cannot help looking upon him as an exceptional and beautiful being, as a sort of marvelous divinity, and, in spite of myself, surmounting my will and my reason, I feel rising, from the depths of my being, towards this rich man, who is very often an imbecile, and sometimes a murderer, something like an incense of admiration. Is it not stupid? And why? Why?”

Octave Mirbeau’s masterpiece, The Diary of a Chambermaid, is often forgotten in the lists of powerful literature classics. It is one of the most scandalous books of its time. Mirbeau, French anarchist and literature critic, tells the story of Celestine. Presented as the daughter of a fisherman who grew into an attractive woman with a tendency towards men and love, Celestine discovers the decay below the shiny layer of aristocracy, as well as their attitude towards the lower class. Serving, the “profession” that well-developed societies still haven’t abandoned, is nothing but a modern form of slavery. 

The book’s plot is presented through Celestine’s memories of all places and people she has worked for. From a fetish to boots to power struggles between spouses, she has seen it all. At the current point, she is serving a family that acquired wealth in a dishonest manner. Throughout her life, Mirbeau presents serving as a modern form of slavery, but he shows no sentimental sympathy towards the lower classes. Celestine, the servant, chose this life for herself and it doesn’t seem like she regrets it.

Are we free from such exploitation of labor? Maids used to be treated as sex workers, and that attitude towards women remained among the upper classes of society. Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood film producer, had the power and influence to do the same thing to some of the most prominent women of our time. From the outside, the world of the rich looks full of splendor and prestige. But below that shiny surface, the wealthy world is rotten to its core.

The novel used to be considered eccentric, but in its essence, it’s as realistic as it gets. Celestine is shown as a calculating, passionate woman. She does not have the perfect ethics, but she is always sincere. To me, Celestine is one of the strongest female characters in literature. Through her, the author shows the disgrace of society, masked under the glamour of money and bling.    

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