Review writing is one of the most relevant modern-day writing skills. More so, it is used in selling books and analyzing their content. What sells a book are the reviews written on it, although the role of the words of mouth cannot be overemphasized too.
A book review is a critical appraisal of a book, article, play, film, etc. It is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style and merit.
There are two kinds of book review:
Whereas prepublication review is written for libraries and bookshops that are going to purchase the book in bulk, the post-publication review is written for people who are potential readers of the book being reviewed.
Approaches to Review Writing
There are two approaches to writing a book review: descriptive and critical review.
Descriptive review gives the essential information about a book. This is done with description and exposition, by stating the perceived aims and purposes of the author, and by quoting striking passages, dialogues, etc., from the book.
Critical review describes and evaluates the book in terms of accepted literary and historical standards, and supports this evaluation with evidence from the book.
A book review is expected to answer two questions:
- What is the book about?
- How good is the book?
Understanding what a nonfiction book is all about and how good it is, for instance, is relatively a straightforward process. The reviewer only needs to determine if the author was able to express his thoughts and ideas clearly in a way that the reader can understand.
Determining how good a fiction piece is, on the other hand, requires that the reviewer understands the five elements of fiction: character, setting, plot, theme and style and how effectively the author used these elements.
Becoming a good reviewer rests on only one factor – experience. Experience is developed through consistent writing, in-depth understanding of book content and the ability to explain the same.