A Review Of The Book You Read
Criticism is concerned with the exposition, analysis, comparison, and evaluation of works of literature.
To be able to do so, you have to establish first by what criteria or "standards" you will judge the book you have read to be "good" or "bad".
You will also have to establish what you will judge. For instance, you may want to analyse plot and character, and/or language. You may also want to deal with the "message" the book has for the reader, but, under all circumstances, you will have to present evidence to back up your criticism. In this way, you have to behave like a real judge, weighing the evidence brought before him. Wild charges written down in your book report will be just as unacceptable as they would in a court.
Having stated that, let's look at what you have to do to get a good mark for your book report.
Your book report is going to be an appraisal, and a good appraisal should tell the reader your evaluation of the book in such a way that the reader can then make his own estimation of the book. To do this you must meet three requirements:
- you must report what the book does
- you must judge how well it does it
- you must provide enough evidence from the book itself to support or illustrate your judgment
Each of these obligations is important. The more you slip up on them, the more the value of your book report decreases, and with it, of course, your mark!
- If you do not report what the book does, then your reader, who has not read the book, will have difficulty following your analysis.
- If, however, you only report what the book does, but do not tell how well it does it, then you are only writing a synopsis (retelling the story), not a critical review.
- Finally, if you fail to support your judgments, you give the reader no opportunity to form his own judgment. You do not have the right to think that your unsupported opinions should be accepted as facts. If you say that the book is "boring", "disorganized", "slow", or that it "doesn't make sense", you should present evidence for these statements.
A fourth obligation is taken for granted. You must be fair to the book you are judging. You must not allow your prejudices on a subject to influence your appraisal unduly.
If you hate "science fiction", then don't read such a book, but do not condemn such a book because you dislike such fiction.
The preparation of a good review requires careful reading as well as careful writing. Lazy or uncritical reading, for instance of a teener romance, will always result in a poor review. You should read the book with the intention of reviewing it. Keeping this in mind will make you read the book more purposefully. Don't make up your mind after reading thirty pages of the book. If you want to be an honest reviewer, you should not than will not make a final judgment until you have read the whole book. If you read carefully, you will begin to make tentative judgments as you go along.
You could begin your book report with an introduction of the author, telling the reader who he/she is, what other books he/she has written, or how he/she came to write this one.
If you can't, or don't want to do that, you may start with a paragraph on the problem the book deals with, for instance, juvenile delinquency, divorce, alcoholism, love, and with an example from the book, introduce the author's attitude toward the subject.
You can also start your report with a quotation from the book that sums up the purpose of the book.
Or you may start by giving a description of the book in general to give the reader a brief, but complete, picture of it.
Avoid the following mistakes
- Write too much about the content of the book, so that the book report is nothing but "a retelling of the story".
- Picking out parts instead of dealing with the whole book. The reader will be confused.
- Drifting into your own personal biases instead of dealing with the book.
- To exaggerate one characteristic of the book instead of dealing with the whole book.
- Keeping your report general and vague by failing to provide specific examples to support your statements.
Judge the following reviews. What is wrong with them?
The book I read is The Chrysalids and it was written by John Wyndham. This book is really dumb. It deals with science fiction and the main character is a boy with E.S.P. Would you believe that, that is weird, man! I don't like science fiction because it is all about weird societies and that is boring. The book is nothing but facts about religion and such stuff, and the author gives the characters funny names, such as Strorm and the whole story doesn't make sense. If the author would of put in one real thing that really could have happened, may be it could have been better, but now it is really dumb, with nothing happening very much between the first page and the last, just one boring thing after another. There is also some Sealand woman in the story who can mind read across the world, that is dumb too. I found this book not every interesting because it was science fiction and I don't like that kind of books.
I liked the book, even though the main character is a boy, because I enjoy science fiction. Although the religion is weird in the book the members of the Group are exciting. I didn't like what the author did the people in the Fringes, because they are ugly and deformed. The fact that the members of the Group have E.S.P. is real cool. It wasn't their fault that they had that skill. It had to be. David's father should not have judged the book by its cover. That is message of the book. But the best parts of the book are the parts about mind reading, what the Group has and what they can do with it. The Sealand stuff was good too. Very exciting and the author describes the helicopter ride well. I could believe I was sitting in it. Eight out of ten for this one.
The title of the book I reviewed is Don't Give Up Melissa and was written by Geraldine Humperdinck. This is a high school romance and I just love romances. The story is about that girl Melissa who is turned down by all the good looking boys at Brainless High because she has a birth mark on the lobe of her left ear. Poor Melissa really suffers, but with the support of her loving parents and her devoted dog Snarls she wins the big Florida dog sled race, thus proving that when you set your goals clearly and if you persevere, you can win. From a distance Eugene, the quarterback of the high school football team, has always admired that ear lobe, but although he is tough and big, he is too shy to tell Melissa. When, on the way back from the dog sled celebrations, Melissa runs him over with her car, he has just enough time to whisper in that wonderful ear that he always loved her, then he dies. The ending is so sad, that I cried. What a fantastic book and the author uses real language and real situations that could off happened anywhere. The message of the book: never judge a book by its cover!
Checklist: Did I do the following?