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Donna Oja Smith's English Class at Trenton High School

Writing a Book Review
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Writing a Book Review
 

A good book review of fiction includes these elements:

  • A lively opening:  one paragraph that mentions the name of the author and the title (and often some brief information about the author, as well as any past works, prizes, etc.)
  • A summary of the plot.
  • Your opinion of the book's strengths and weaknesses.
  • A wrap-up sentence or paragraph that gives the reader a final impression of the book.

1st Paragraph:  The Opening:

 Composing a good lead paragraph is the most challenging part of review writing.  The purpose is to catch your readers' attention, making them eager to read what you have to say.

To get started, take notes.  Ask yourself some questions (you're likely to find your lead in your answers):

    • What's the main theme that runs through the book?
    • What's special about the book, compared to others like it?
    • What impact did the book have on you?

The name of the author and the book title (underlined or italicized) should be included in the first paragraph.

 

2nd Paragraph:  The Summary:

            People read reviews primarily to find out whether they want to read a book, so you need to give them a taste of what's between the covers.  When reviewing fiction, tell your readers something about the main characters, but summarize only some of the plot. 

            Summarize the first third to half of the plot of a novel, omitting the subplots, and stop where a conflict is about to be resolved, a character is about to make a decision, or a major action scene is about to begin.

            Choosing good quotations from the book can make it come alive for your readers.  Look for especially witty, moving, or powerful quotes, and describe the context in which they were made.

 

3rd Paragraph:  The Opinion:

            When forming your opinion of a book, you might start by asking yourself these questions:

o       What did this author set out to do?

o       How well did he or she succeed?

o       Did the book move me in some way?

o       What did I like about the book?

o       What did I dislike?

o       Were the characters interesting and convincing?

o       Did the plot hold my attention to the end?

 

4th Paragraph:  The Wrap-Up:

            Make your ending short, finding some strong words that sum up your opinion of the book.  If possible, echo a statement you made in your opening paragraph. Remember, your goal is to give your review a memorable ending.

"He who learns but does not think is lost! 
He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger!" 
Confucius 551-479 B.C. (Chinese philosopher)

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"YOU make choices, but  CHOICES make you." (DOS)
 
“Men are not prisoners of fate, but prisoners of their own minds.” (FDR)

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DID YOU KNOW THAT NO PIECE OF PAPER CAN BE FOLDED IN HALF MORE THAN SEVEN TIMES?  TRY IT.  THEN GET BACK TO WORK.

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