You might think that writing a book review for school is a simple assignment. As long as you’ve read the novel, all you have to do is to summarize it, right?
Not exactly. A book review is actually the kind of assignment that asks you to prove you can think critically about the classwork. The best way to earn an ‘A’ is to make sure that your paper answers certain key questions about the book. By covering the following important points, you’ll put yourself in the best position possible to get a high grade.
1. Who Is the Author?
You can’t explore a book without spending a little bit of time writing about its author. This doesn’t just mean covering who they are, where they were born, and all the other basic biographical information that you can easily grab from the internet. To make the right impression on your teacher, you should write about the author’s lifestyle, beliefs, or experiences that have played a key role in their writing of the novel.
2. What’s the Key Conflict?
This may be the most important question your book report has to answer. No matter what genre of novel you’re covering, there is definitely a main conflict in the story. Your book report should prove that you have understood what that conflict was. However, many students don’t realize that the conflict in a story may have more layers than what’s on the surface level. For example, in “Hamlet,” the conflict isn’t just about the protagonist trying to avenge his father’s death. It’s about his internal struggle. If you can prove to your teacher that you have understood the deeper levels of a novel’s or play’s conflict, you’ll be much more likely to get an good mark.
That said, it’s not enough to just summarize the conflict. If you’re going to explore it on a deeper level, you need to back up your arguments. That means using evidence from the text itself, like quotes, to support your point. You can also use some of the info about the author as evidence, too. Just make sure you don’t rely on too many quotes. Use only as much as you need to prove the particular argument, and no more. Otherwise, your teacher will think you have simply added in the quotes to make your paper longer.
3. How Did You Feel About the Book?
This can be the hardest question for your book review to answer. On the one hand, your teacher wants to see that you’re able to offer up an opinion on the novel, instead of just restating what others have already said about it. On the other hand, you can’t merely say that you liked or disliked it. Instead, you should try to answer a more specific question about your impressions. In the section of your essay where you discussed the main conflict, did you claim that the author was trying to make a point of their own? Write about whether or not you think they were successful, and why.
A book report isn’t as a simple assignment as you might think. Luckily, if you follow these suggestions, it can be so.