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Presented by State Library Victoria

How to: write a book review

In this clever, little, fantastic tutorial, we (the fabulous DAB members Teagan, Abbie and Aahana) are gonna show you, the lovely, fantastic reader, who clearly reads amazing (or not-so-amazing) books, how to create your very own, incredibly fantastic book review! That was a lot of fantastics, we’re sorry…

Okay so, before you start your very own book review you need two things:

1. A book – one that you would be comfortable reviewing and,
2. A style – if you don’t know yours yet, don’t worry, we are going to help you.

 

Step one: identify your style
(Keep in mind you do not need to stick with the style
or even choose now).

The styles that we are going to walk you through are:

1. Unstructured reviewing by Abbie

(This is a form that would suit the more creative writers, who make things up as they go along, who go with the flow and really, really, REALLY hate those stupid English structures…)

2. The In-between by Teagan

(An in-between review is a book review which contains some structure but doesn’t need to look professional and FANCY. While you aren’t constrained to an E X A C T structure and you can be crazy and fun, you do still have a clear system.)3

3. Structured reviewing by Aahana

(For those of us who need a clear step by step process of how to write a review.)

DISCLAIMER: YOU CAN STILL USE CAPS LOCK and sum rly bad grammar and any.other.formatting.you.like. dw.

 

1. HOW TO WRITE A REVIEW WITH ABSOLUTELY NO STRUCTURE WHAT-SO-EVER

Okay so pretty much the way you write an unstructured review is:

Step 1: Word vomit. Seriously. Just puke out your brain and put it on paper.

Step 2: Repeat step one over and over again and you end up with unfinished sentences and random new lines and it goes for a page and a half because there is no punctuation and barely any capital letters and it is really hard to read aloud as there is no where to breathe and it’s mostly just a summary of the best parts of the book and it’s kinda a poem but it’s mostly not and it’s kinda just ranting and it just goes oooooooooooon. *Inhales.*

Step 3: *Exhales.* Now your job is to refine. The refining can be as much or as little as you would like because in this type of review, rough is okay. In fact, rough is perfect. Refined and polished is perfect. This step is where you can put in the full stops, commas, capital letters, take out random lines, put in random breaks, make paragraphs, even make things rhyme if you want to. It’s completely up to you and how you want your review to sound. My style is rough and almost unfinished, which gives it a lilting sort of feel, but it can rhyme as well as have a repeated feel.

For example:

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

when a child is hurt

corrupted

tortured

beaten

broken

forced to watch

as those around her die

she gets carted off

and those who don’t exist

become solid

and creatures of the night

become allies

become crutches

become a beacon of hope.

 

HOW TO WRITE AN IN-BETWEEN STRUCTURED AND NON-STRUCTURED KIND OF BOOK REVIEW!

So… what is an in-between review you ask?

Well, it means you have a semi structure but you might not be overly professional or intense. While you most certainly are free to lose your mind over a book you don’t need to write long paragraphs or throw structure out the window.

When I write this type of review, fellow reader, I used the structure of points.

What do I mean you ask? Well, that is an excellent question.

I had a list of things I wanted to bring up and I ordered them, Number 1, Number 2… and you continue until the cows come home (or you know, you want to stop).

SO do you want to write an in-between review?

 

FIRSTLY (whoop)

Pick how you would like to “semi-structure”

As I already stated I used the structure of points and I numbered them – THIS IS IN NO WAY A DIRECT INSTRUCTION merely a guideline but points WORK

Find out what you would like to say, make a list, and then write

Don’t limit yourself but also try to follow your points so you are sure you say everything you wanted to say

 

SECONDLY (faintly in the distance a “yay!” can be heard)

Change the size of your font, add pictures, shake it up a little

If you’re looking at your review and thinking something like this…

“Hmm it looks like it’s a structural review”
Then worry not!

One of the best parts of an in-between review is there are NO LIMITS

 

Don’t think “But isn’t crazy stuff for the unstructured?” because nooOOOOOO

Font changes, size changes, random gifs, capitalisation

IS ALL AMAZING

Do this! Do that! And don’t hold back!

 

AND THAT’S IT!

Go and be free my little butterfly

For now you can write an in-between book review and I’ll bet you’re gonna smash it!

 

Example

A QUIET KIND OF THUNDER (wooh yay!)

 

She doesn’t ever want to stop reading this beautiful, adorable book

 

Let me tell you why

 

NUMBER 1

Rhys is freaking adorable and lovable and AAAAAAAAH

He is a sweet, young boy who is deaf and BOY did I love reading about him

All you want is for him to bloody smoosh faces with Steffi (no spoilers but he might do so ;P) because they are so perfect for each other!!!

Which leads to….

 

  1. C) HOW TO WRITE A STRUCTURED REVIEW

Hello hello hello, a structured review, my friend, is very different to those books reviews you’ve ever had to write for school.

 

Because now you get to choose the book you review, and you can make it as long or short as you like

Because now you can use crappy spelling and grammar and even gifs !!!

Because here you can definitely fangirl (and also hate on) the books that you are passionate about – in a way that someone can easily identify and agree with you and fangirl and hate on just as intensely as you do.

 

Below is a list of components that you can choose to include, and structure your review according to your ideas.You can choose to use any combination of these suggestions, or anything else you think of – you are by no means limited by these!

So, let’s get into it!

  1. Identify what you love most about the book: whether it be a theme, a character, a setting, a creature or even the writing itself! It’s always good to start on a positive note (even if you’re planning to rip the book to shreds) and it’s respectful to acknowledge the hard work of the author! So find something positive in it, no matter how little it may be.
  2. Find something you disliked about the book. Again, it could be anything from a repetition of a certain word choice, to the cliche of a symbol or anything in between no matter how trivial. This way, another disliker of the book will be able to identify with you, and you’ll give a lover of the book something to dispute with.
  3. If you were the author, what changes would you make? Is the cover too bright? Does the font deafen you? Do you just hate hate hate hate hate the love interest? Now is the time to go for your life – this is where you expand on what you love or hate.
  4. Aaaand here you add anything else you would like. A rant. A time to fangirl out. OR CAPS FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER AND EVER. Fill this space with whatever else you want to say about the book that you haven’t said yet.
  5. Would you recommend this book for someone? If so,what age groups? Are there themes that could trigger people? List them here.
  6. Out of 10 stars, where does this book lie on your scale?

 

Example – Review on Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Some of the  themes brought up reverberated with me, and a few of the sentences were laced beautifully with well-chosen words, however there were very few poems that I would call real poetry, simply because of the lack of exploration of the ideas, lyricism, rhythm and other basic poetic elements. . Take the following, for example:

loneliness is a sign

you are in desperate

need of yourself

This is an overly simplistic idea, that hasn’t been explored or furthered; merely a statement. To me, this is not poetry in the least; just a thought, presented in the form of an unnecessary three lines as opposed to one. Poetry should challenge your views, make you stop and wonder, and keep you up at night. None of Kaur’s poetry evoked nearly enough emotion in me to reach even close to this.

 

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR BOOK REVIEWS, DEAR READERS !!

3 comments

inky Centre for Youth Literature

Hey you, remember to include a feature image - you're on the home page ;)

11th Mar, 18
keiraceleste

Very helpful, thank you!!!

25th Mar, 18
nightsky

thanks, that's super helpful and interesting!

15th Apr, 18