How to Write a Novel Review

Novel Review Definition

A novel review is a detailed critical evaluation of a literary work that is aimed to form a certain opinion for the intended audience. A review communicates thoughts and feelings caused by the particular object (work of art, book, performance, etc). By analyzing a novel, the reviewer can influence the reader’s attitude towards the text. That’s why loyalty, tactfulness, and modesty in judgments should be the most important tools for the reviewer.

how to write a novel review

The Purpose of a Novel Review

The purpose of a novel review is to introduce a new (or classical) novel to a potential audience. The main aim of a review is to briefly describe the contents and give an opinion about the novel. The author of the review should help the readers make a decision as to whether it is worth reading or not. A review can be submitted as an academic term paper in college or university, and can be published online or in printed sources.

Writing a novel review will help you develop critical thinking and writing skills. If you are going to write your first review, let’s see how to write a novel review.

Tips to Consider While Reading the Novel

Without reading the novel you won’t be able to write a good review. The reviewer should carefully and fully read the text to make a founded opinion. But before you will be ready to start reading the novel, make sure that you have attentively read the assignment. It can happen that you will need to consider several questions or read certain chapters more attentively. Pay attention to the following tips to make your reading more effective:

  • Read the novel paying attention to every passage or idea. The better option is to read the novel several times: the first reading should be from the position of an ordinary reader and the second time as a critic. If the novel is too voluminous or you don’t have much time, one profound reading will be enough.
  • Pay attention to the introduction (words from the author or editor). Here you can find essential information about the author, history of creation, or summary.
  • Take a pencil and make notes in your notebook or piece of paper as you read. You can highlight the most interesting moments, write down questions that can arise while reading, or list the names of characters that appear in the novel.
  • Write down the most important quotes that you can add to your review. Don’t forget to mark the book page where you found it. You can use colorful bookmarks to easily navigate among the quotes.
  • As you finish, put the text aside. Leave yourself time to reflect on the novel and come up with your point of view.
  • Briefly write your impression of the novel. These fresh thoughts will be a great basis for your future review.

When you will do all the activities from the list above, you can proceed to creating a plan for the future novel review. You can create your own plan or use the following structure:

1. Introduction.

Basic description: introduce the novel’s title, the author’s name, the date of publication, publishing house, etc.
What the novel is about: in several sentences describe the plot of the novel.
Your own impressions: briefly state your opinion about the novel.

2. Body paragraph.

This part will be the most complex and should contain the analysis of the title, the quality of the story, structure, etc. Also you need to discuss strong and weak points of the novel.

3. Conclusion.

Make the final evaluation and sum up your thoughts about the relevance of the novel and give recommendations to readers.

Questions to Ask Before Writing a Novel Review

One of the toughest parts of writing the review is to come up with the idea and get words from your head into writing. Obviously, there is no singular piece of advice on how to write a book review of a novel. In order to help you, we have created a list of questions that you can start answering after reading the novel to turn your creativity on.

  • Who will be your audience? A novel review in college and a review for a journal can have different styles and organization.
  • What mood do you want to create with your text?
  • Do you like the book cover?
  • What do you think of the novel’s title? Does the title have a special meaning?
  • How many pages does the novel have?
  • Is the text easy to read? Is the story logically clear?
  • What genre does this novel belong to? What distinctive characteristics does it have?
  • What are strengths and weaknesses of the text?
  • Is the novel current nowadays? What issues are the same?
  • What audience does this novel address?
  • Is the story unique? Have you ever read something similar to this novel?
  • Is the novel illustrated? Did you like the illustrations? Are illustrations appropriate?
  • What are the main themes of the novel? What is the main idea? Can you sum it up in one sentence?
  • What moments from the novel have you enjoyed the most? Why?
  • Was the ending predictable?
  • Did characters arouse a sense of empathy?
  • Do you have a desire to reread the novel again? Why?

Novel Review Writing Steps

Step 1. Write the heading. Usually this part consists of bibliographical information about the novel: title, author’s name, place of publication and date of publication.

Step 2. Write the introductory part. Start your paper with an eye-catching opening sentence that will attract the reader to your review. Your first sentence can be a quote, anecdote, or just an interesting statement. In simple words describe what the review will be about. It will be worth mentioning information about the author and whether this particular novel follows the author’s usual style.

If you feel that you can’t write a good introduction right now, you can write it after you finish the body paragraphs. It will be easier to write it when you have all points before your eyes.

Step 3. Write the body section. This part of a review is not about plot description. You need to concentrate on your impressions and point of view. You can choose one of the following approaches in creating the review: a view from an outside perspective, an analysis without positive or negative evaluation, and critique.

You can analyze the title of the novel, discuss themes and ideas mentioned in the text, or evaluate the author’s style and composition. Tell about your impressions about the book, describing in detail the moments that you have enjoyed the most. Discuss positive and negative moments supporting it with evidence. If appropriate, mention the quality of book design, illustrations, and print quality.

Step 4. End the review with a short conclusion. Has the author succeeded to convey his messages to the reader? What thoughts did you have right after reading the novel? Have you learned something new? To what type of reader would you recommend this novel? Mention that the novel will be appreciated by those who enjoy reading similar novels. Try to avoid mentioning new information at the end of your review in order to avoid confusing your readers. As an addition, you can give a rating or stars to show how much you enjoyed reading the novel.

Step 5. Proofread the text. The first draft of your novel review may not seem ideal, so be ready to revise the text several times.

  • Check the dates, names, numbers, titles, and facts.
  • Make sure that the tone of the text is positive or neutral. Don’t directly impose your views on your readers.
  • Correct the mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Avoid jargon and inappropriate words.
  • Make sure that the text of your review will be easy to read. Use simple sentences and avoid big constructions.

Novel Review Example Analysis

To better get the hang of what a good novel review looks like, read the following novel review example. Check out the text of the example and try to break down how the author has written the text and organized ideas – and importantly, think on why this text is good. Also, pay attention to the comments in the example of review text novel analysis made by our expert to understand what moments should be considered while writing. If you will feel that this sample is not enough, read other novel review examples on our site.

Novel Review Writing: Useful Tips

  • Before starting your review, understand what the author meant. Maybe, you will need to learn more about the author’s biography or check the information about the time when the novel was created.
  • Don’t read other reviews on the same topic before writing your own review. Even if your point of view is similar to the author’s review, your thoughts will be distracted from your own ideas and views.
  • Get used to the fact that your point of view may differ from another person’s point of view. Live with it. Avoid the fear before the reader, as you have your own point of view and it’s normal.
  • Remember: if you have decided to share negative moments from the novel, support it with evidence. Reviewing is more than simply saying whether you like or dislike it. All statements should be supported with quotes or references to the text.
  • Use logic and emotions equally in your text. A review that is too emotional may look childish or biased.
  • Don’t review a book that you totally dislike. A completely negative review may be regarded as shortsighted or harboring personal animosity toward the author.

As you can learn from our article, writing a novel review is an art of balancing between your own point of view and objectivity. The one place where the reviewer and reader agree is that reading should bring pleasure. Be guided by this aspect while creating your novel review. We hope our guide has answered your questions on how to write novel review. May creativity be with you.