blogging · books · discussions · shanti

What should a review contain?

Hi Virtually Readers! It’s Shanti, your favourite blog writer (apart from Shar). I feel like my posting schedule has been aaalllllllllll messed up lately, but I was away on a school trip and I had a lot of work and I’m leaving again tomorrow. But a question has been tearing at my mind as I try to motivate myself to write book reviews (and also look at a handy document on my laptop called ‘blog post ideas’): What should be included in a review? I know it’s early in the week for serious talk, but let’s discuss!

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So the first thing is fairly obvious: I think that a review should contain some element of description of what the book is about. Personally, I usually make this a bare bones sort of thing in my review, leaving the blurb (or goodreads) to do the describing. A couple of people have pointed this out before, so if for whatever reason I’m writing a review for another setting, I’ll adjust for that. But it’s important that your readers have some idea of what you’re writing about, especially if they’re going to read it themselves.

The second important element is your opinion. This is what makes a review yours, and what you can uniquely offer a reader. How did you feel about the book? Did it change the way you see the world somehow? Did it teach you something? What did you like, and what didn’t you like? When reviewing, it’s really important to share your opinion. Do so politely (don’t say “curses should be rained on the author from the heavens because they must be a terrible person to write such a horrible book), but without negating your opinion, because the reason that we read and presumably you write, a review is to share your opinion (no-one wants to read “well, I loved this book, but that’s just me, I mean you might hate it, it’s all my opinion”) It’s a review and we know it’s your opinion, don’t worry. (though I get that internet people can be horrible to you for your opinion at times)

The third essential part, according to me, is specific examples. If your review just said: “This is what the book was about and I liked it” no-one is going to read it. Be specific! You liked the character relationships? Which ones? One character irked you? Why? It can be useful to use quotes, especially if you’re talking about the writing style, but that’s sort of up to you. Whatever you say though, be specific. Specificity is like evidence, and it’s really useful for anyone who’s evaluating a book (or your review!).

This was sort of covered in the opinion part, but whatever you’re writing, be passionate about it. You should care about your review, even if you didn’t care for the book, and you can show that to your readers by expressing your emotions (considerately), and writing a good review (whatever that means to you—it’s totally a matter of opinion). This can mean adding gifs, or capital letters, or whatever form your enthusiasm takes. Putting a review out into the world says that you care about it, so show that to your readers.

The book blogging community lives and breathes reviews. We love to read them and write them. These are what I look for in reviews. It matters to me that I know about the book, and I know why, specifically, you liked it. But reviews can take many many many different forms, so it doesn’t matter how you do them (or even if you do at all).

So what do you think are the essential elements of reviews? Did I cover them? And if you write reviews, let me know what your process is like!

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7 thoughts on “What should a review contain?

  1. THIS POST SPEAKS TO ME. Great discussion!!!❤️🎉👏 also I feel the opinions part is the most important because I want to know whether someone liked that book or not. Plus, I sometimes try to include a synopsis. (Emphasis on try)

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  2. I love this post! I think every blogger has their own unique style for writing reviews, and that’s what makes bloghopping so much fun. I do agree that reviews should include a short synopsis and the blogger’s opinion though. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous discussion! ❤

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  3. Ooh, these are excellent points! I actually fail at the first one though.😂 I mean, I TRY, but a lot of the time my reviews are literally just my opinions. Because as a bookworm, I read reviews to find out what other people felt about them. If they’re shrieking “I LVOED THIS FANTASY” that’s basically all I need and then, boom, I am over there devouring this. Obviously not aaaall bookworms are like that, so I should probably include some more details about the books, um, actual story in my reviews! XD
    Omg but I really dislike when a review is just a reworded synopsis. I WANT TO KNOW FEEEELINGS.

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    1. I think blurbs from publishers sometimes do a great job, and sometimes totally suck. Passion is definitely what sucks me into book reviews. It makes sense to write reviews how you respond to them though! You have to put your own opinion in, or else it’s not worth anything.

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  4. I love this post 🙂 I agree with you, reviewing a book really should be us sharing our thoughts on the story, in whatever way we like, with gifs of screaming all caps ahha. I personally stay a bit on the, average type or review? I’m talking about the plot and the characters and what I loved about the book, basically. It’s hard though sometimes, I feel like I’m not doing the book any justice, when it’s an amazing book ahah.

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    1. I think I have a pretty similar reviewing style to you, Marie–I generally pick 3 key features of the book to talk about with an intro and conclusion. sometimes I experiment with other styles, though. It can be hard to really express all the feellllinggs.

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