12 Life Hacks: How to Write the Brilliant Book Review

Most of us know how to write a book report, we had to do them in school, but few of us know how to write a book review.

We are going to give you tips on how to write a brilliant book review.

What is a book review?

First, you need to understand that a book review is very different than a book report. A book report is a summary of the plot of the book, give details on characters, and without telling you exactly what happens teases you into reading the book.

A book review, on the other hand, is far more detailed and does not go into a full summary of the story or characters.

It does give information on the author, the publication of the book, the price, and the ISBN on the book.

Give a couple sentences about the main plot of the story and characters. What point of view is it written in?

Your recommendation –would you recommend the book or not.

Did the author bring the story together well or not, did you agree with the author’s point of view or not?

12 Tips from a pro

These tips come from a retired book review writer who worked for a newspaper in Cleveland Ohio.

  1. Report facts accurately. Do not rely on your memory; check the facts, quotes, and spelling of characters names. The author’s name, publishing company, the date the book was published first, if you report accurately even if your report is wrong about the merits of the book the author and publisher will have trust in your ability to report accurately on the facts.
  2. Answer these questions in your review –what makes this book different from all others and why would anyone care?
  3. Be fair not kind. This means if the book has a flaw in the writing say so if it is great to say it is great. Point out the writing good or bad not the personal problems of the author. IE: while the story could be better if the author laid of the booze…. This not professional. Instead, the writing has a flaw when trying the subplots together and showing how they all relate to the overall plot.
  4. When criticizing; criticize the book, not the author. If you do not like the book, focus on what is on the pages not the character defects of the author.
  5. Know before you write what you want your review to be; a buyer’s guide? A news story? A fictional or academic examination? A mix of all of those? If you aren’t sure, find a review done by a critic you admire of a similar book to use as an example.
  6. Give enough information about the plot of fiction or facts of nonfiction so that people will know the context of your opinion, do not give a full summary of the plot remember you are writing a review, not a book report.
  7. Find a critic either in a newspaper, magazine, or online that you love their work and take the work apart to see how they make it work. You can copy by hand with pen or type in computer parts to see what the rhythm and structure are like and absorb it. You are not using their work as plagiarism the point is to see the flow and how they bring it together so that you can model your own work after theirs.
  8. If you need to take a refresher course on writing book reviews, reports, and the essay there are plenty online at places like EssaySupply.
  9. Get rid of common phrases used in reviews such as “edgy, luminous, the next (famous author)” If you feel it necessary to use something liked “edgy” or “gripping” tell why you feel the plot is gripping. An example –the story is about a supernatural incident that is so gripping you can’t put the book down until you get to the truth of what the incident really was.
  10. Do not ever review a work by someone you know either friend or enemy. The reason for this is: It undermines your credibility. You do not want your work questioned on the grounds of being biased; this can open up well if this review was biased what other reviews were not honest or truthful?
  11. When you write your review take a conversational tone instead of a teaching by example tone. You want your review to read as if the people reading it are personal friends let your writing show a friendly conversation.
  12. Always do the best work you can in the time you have. If you do not have time to do a proper review then do not do the review. If you are not giving your best it is better to pass that one up and wait till you can give your best work.


If you wish to write brilliant book reviews use the tips listed above to help brush up and polish your reviews. All the tips come from a professional book review writer so you know they will work.

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Comment by Kathy Custren on August 29, 2016 at 8:47pm

Hi, Pat - we ask for quite a few of these standards from our regular contributors here in our writing community. Thanks for sharing but this is not moving on to the publishers. ~ Blessings! 

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