How to review a book? How to review a movie? That’s the question that plagues many newbies these days. I have been reviewing movies for the past 7 years and more and for the past 2 years I have been reviewing books. There is one similarity between both these mediums of entertainment and that is strictly the story and the presentation. Both are a part of literature, though books are more so. That’s the reason why decided to pen this blog post. I hope that you find it useful.
Review precisely means to re-view a work of art from your eyes. Hence, it is important that you give your readers your point of view. Writing a blurb and just one para about what you felt isn’t a review. Any layman on Facebook could do that. Right? What makes you different from them is that you observe. You find intricate details in the artwork and make it a point to mention the same in your reviews. It is reading between the lines, what we call in journalistic language.
Make sure you have parameters set for reviewing. Some of the parameters you can work on, which I personally use are as follows.
1. Plot: Talk about the plot or the story and how it is.
2. Subplot: Subplot is a story running parallel to plot. Many books or films have a subplot. Look closely if the artwork you review has subplot or no and if so is it logical and helpful to the story.
3. Language: How is the language used by the author? Does it help in adding to the reading experience? What use is the language to the book?
4. Narration: Is the story told in first person or third person? Why is a particular voice used by the author, try to analyze that in your review. By that I mean give your view. Why do you think the author used first person instead of third person or where has the voice being changed.
For instance, I mentioned in my review of The unlikely adventures of the Shergill sisters, “The story is presented in third person perspective/past tense but the voice changes to present tense for only one chapter which describes the death of Sita. This particular transition, death especially, left me a tad disturbed. I could feel the emotional whirlpool and so, I had to keep the book aside for time being.”
5. Title or the name of the book: Do you think the title of the book is justified? Titles play an important role in understanding what we are going to experience from a book or a movie. So check if the title brings out the flavor that’s hidden in the pages.
6. Feelings: Your review is incomplete if you don’t tell the world what you felt. It may be your emotions, it may be your thoughts. Writing your feelings is important.
7. Spoilers: I would suggest not to reveal the entire story. Give spoilers only when it is necessary without revealing too much.
For instance in my review of The unlikely adventures of the Shergill sisters: “While I was reading, the urge to know what precisely has Shirina’s husband asked her to do which has upset her so much or what has Rajni done to earn the wrath of her Thaya ji, kept coming back to me.”
8. Technicalities: By that I mean, can you see what an author has used, a literary device, it may be pun or a leitmotif or it may be a rhyme scheme. Try to look closely for that. Many a times such technicalities are hidden.
For instance in my review of The palace of illusions: “The author though retells the story from Draupadi’s perspective she makes sure to use ample of narrative devices, for instance- Draupadi’s dreams or habit of evasdropping or the boon of sight given by Vyasa etc, to give a wholesome and complete view.”
9. Characters: Every story is incomplete without the characters. Analyse how the characters are developed. Whether they are black or white or grey, whether they are sketched well or whether they are relatable or not. Talk about a character you love and why you loved it.
10. Closing: Close your review by saying in a few words what you think about the book and if your readers should pick it or no.
Presentation of your reviews is also important. Decide a single pattern and stick to it. If you are going to make it into bullet points or if you are going to make it into article. Will you use quotes to add to the review. Every minute thing about presenting your review is crucial.
Elaborate your reviews. A one liner is okay but a reader would like to know what precisely do you mean by the sentence that the “narration is crisp or the language is lucid.”
Being a reviewer is a responsibility. There will be readers out there who will watch your review or read your review before buying a book or watching a movie. Also, understand, that your reviews make you credible. Make sure what you pen is detailed and not a brief about the book.
Tip: If you can’t remember everything, use index cards and note things down as you keep reading.
Hope this blog post helps.
If you have anything to add to this. Please make sure to comment.