The last book review I did brought up some interesting questions about a book review. Book reviews are different from most other forms of writing in several ways.
First, whether a book review is printed in a print magazine, newspaper or electronically in a blog or on facebook, the first few lines will be printed with the title. These become your “ad.” The first few lines must be interesting enough to click on the “more” or link or turn the page. These lines must generate enough interest that the reader will invest more time in reading the rest of the review.
Second, compared to a term paper, you already have the thesis statement laid out for you. It always is “you should/should not read this book because…” A skillful writer might turn this “because” into a separate thesis statement which will be the last sentence of the first paragraph.
Third, no matter how much I want to go on about War and Peace, book reviews must be brief. Concentrate on a few points which you believe to be the most important and focus on these points. Use some brief quotes from the work to prove your point and support your conclusions.
Fourth, the best books have weaknesses, except for the Bible, and the worst books have strong points we can all learn from. Include some of each.
Fifth, have a strong conclusion. If you can discern what it is, attempt to show what the author’s point is. Then draw your own conclusion as to why this book should or should not be read. A good book review will not have time for a summary.