What is a review?

  • It is a short piece of writing that gives the writer’s opinion of a book, song, film, play, etc. In this chapter we will focus on book reviews.
  • The writer tells other people whether they will enjoy the book or not.
  • You will need to write about 150 words in your review.

The layout of a review

  • A review is written like a short essay, with the text divided into paragraphs.
  • Give the title of the book, and the author of the book, clearly at the top of your review. These can be separate lines, and not part of the body of the review.

What are some of the features of a review?

A review should show that you have read the book and that you understand it very well.

However, a review must NOT simply tell the story of the book. That is a summary of the book, it is not a review.

A review must also not spoil the book for other readers. You want to encourage them to read the book, so do not give every detail of the book.

A review must give your opinion of the book.

However, the opinion needs to be supported by solid reasons. So do not write” “I think this book is silly.” Instead, if that is your opinion, write: “This book treats the theme of love in an immature and clichéd way, as shown in the scene where John and Nia argue and push each other into the pool.”

Discuss the themes of the book as well.

Use formal language.

How to plan a review

You could plan a review like this:

  • The first paragraph can give the basic details of the book: the most important elements of the plot, the characters’ names, the setting.
  • In the second paragraph discuss the themes – the ideas that the book explores. For example, is it about finding the love of your life? Or is it about standing up to authority?
  • In the last paragraph give your opinion, with clear reasons to support this opinion. Be honest without being too harsh! And you are allowed to be subjective – so if you have experienced something similar to what was in the book, you can say so, and say whether you think the book was accurate in how it depicted this experience or not.
  • Do not go over the word length. Remember that you are writing one review, not another book.

Should you choose a review in an exam?

Yes, if you are confident you will not fall into the trap of just retelling the story. Also, only choose a review if you have some thoughtful opinions about the book.