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Anatomy of a Review
How-To: The Anatomy of a Kickass Review
So you wanna write a kick ass book review. Great! You already have everything that you need right at your fingertips—all that’s to it is to do it! But, if you’re seeking a little motivation, or need a guideline to follow as you go on your way to write a kickass review, look no further. These tips should give you a good idea of what readers look for in a book review—and what you should look for too!
- First and foremost, you should SUMMARIZE THE BOOK YOU’RE REVIEWING. You don’t want to completely give away the plot (at least, put a spoiler alert before readers are caught unawares), but you want to give a good summary of the book. My best suggestion is to use the summary from the publication itself, just make sure to put anything you quote (what’s not yours) in quotations, or to acknowledge that it’s borrowed material. While it’s all public information, it’s good form to do so. If you rather summarize it yourself, make sure that the summary includes the 5 W’s—who, what, when, where, and why.
- Your review should analyze (at least some of) the 5 W’s of the book. In a good review, the reviewer focuses on an aspect (or a few aspects) of the book, and tells their audience—potential readers of this book that you’re reviewing—if it worked for them, and why. That’s all that a review boils down to, right? The writer’s opinion of the book, and in this space, you should creatively and concisely explain your stance. Your basic, overall opinion of the book should be in the last or last couple of sentences. In your review, you should remember these few things:
- Keep your tone conversational, but maintain the rules of style and grammar—of course, unless it’s intentional. I am a great believer in creative license!
- Say what you mean, and mean what you say—being specific in your analysis is a definite must. A good analysis moves past the “yeah, the one guy was really annoying, and I didn’t like him.”
- Make a comparison, if possible. Maybe this one book didn’t do it for you, but the author has a book that really does do it for you. Make that comparison, not only will it make your review more interesting, and give your audience another alternative to seek out, it also makes you a fair(er) judge, which people respect.
- SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK. Wait, let me say that again:
PROOFREAD YOUR REVIEW
You know that old adage, “Never judge a book by its cover?” Well, who doesn’t judge books by their covers? The same thing goes for spelling and grammar. Using a word processor can greatly reduce grammatical and spelling errors, but, remember, MS Word can’t catch everything. Trust me, there is a difference between definitely and definately.
-Have fun, this is your brain child! While you have to hold your reviews to a specific standard (especially if you want to get your grabby little hands on those ARC’s!), you have to remember, this isn’t your college term paper. Relax!
I hope these tips helped!