Tips for Writing a Good Book Review

by KELLY GALLUCCI

As many avid readers know, book reviews can be magical. Not only are they book recommendations, they’re also bridges to our fellow bookworms all around the world. Reviews offer a chance to share your thoughts with other readers and to keep track of your own musings on the books on your shelf, but many find that writing a review isn’t as easy as it seems. To help our NetGalley members craft the best reviews possible, we’ve put together a list of 12 tips for how to write a book review. Whether you’re reviewing books on NetGalley or your personal blog and social media accounts, this guide is sure to help take your reviews to the next level.

Describe the plot
First things first: Your readers will want to know what the book is about. But describing the plot needs to be a fine balance in a book review. You want to share just enough to hook the reader without giving too much away and without veering into book report territory. Give a bit more background on the plot outlined on the book’s jacket, and focus on any elements that you feel particularly strongly about or you think that your readers will want to be aware of. If you’re reviewing an audiobook, you’ll need to also talk about the narrator, pacing, and more. You’ll find our tips for writing audiobook reviews here.

Avoid spoilers
Spoilers—enemy number one of readers everywhere. Most readers take spoilers very seriously, but they continue to pop up in book reviews. Often, spoilers can be tempting to share because they are frequently the elements that gave the reviewer an intense reaction (a sudden twist, a shocking death, a surprise unveiling). But make sure you don’t rob any of your readers of that genuine emotional reaction or discovery. Unless your reviewing platform offers a way to hide spoilers, avoid them completely or at least add a “spoiler alert” warning to your review.

Consider content warnings
Content warnings can help readers be aware of elements of a book that might trigger traumatic memories, cause anxiety, or are generally upsetting. Providing them in a review is a helpful way of giving readers a heads up about what they’re in for so they can make a healthy and informed choice about whether or not they want to engage with that book.

Find the hook
There are two hooks to think about when writing a book review. First, how to make a reader stop scrolling and read your entire review. Second, in cases of positive reviews, how to convince them to pick up the book. Don’t wait until the middle of your review to try to catch the reader’s attention. Try to hook them from the very first sentence. Think about what made you pick the book up, and use that to inspire your own way of writing about it.

Make your opinion clear
This tip might seem obvious, but sometimes a reviewer may get caught up in describing the plot and forget to offer their own insight. We recommend making your thoughts clear as early as possible and throughout the review. As you describe the plot, share your opinion on the things that worked or didn’t when it comes to the writing, characters, and events of the book. Tell readers why they should (or shouldn’t) pick this book up.

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