Welcome to a new feature: Book Blogger Basics!
Today, I want to talk about writing book reviews, in particular what you can write about.
Whether you are new to writing reviews or an experienced reviewer, you might find yourself struggling to come up with content. Perhaps, you don’t know where to start, or you feel like you are saying the same things in every review.
I have experienced this myself. There are so many different topics I could be discussing, but I tend to get stuck on the same ones. Because of that, I created a list of questions I could answer in a book review. It grew to several notebook pages, but I’m limiting it here to the fifty I think are most helpful.
Although not every question will apply to every book, you might find that reading through these questions makes you think of other aspects of a book that you’d like to talk about in your next book review.
I wrote this post with book bloggers in mind at first, but then I started thinking about who else could use these questions. Students, teachers, authors, and beta readers could benefit from using this list. For example, an author could pick some of these questions to have beta reviewers answer.
If any of the questions need clarification, please leave me a comment. Also, if there’s a question you think I left out that is more important than one I have up, I’d love to hear from you.
I hope you find this list helpful.
50 Questions You Could Answer in a Book Review
- Did the beginning grab your attention right away?
- Was there too much information about the character’s past or the history of the setting that slowed down the pace of the story at the beginning?
- Did the author ‘information dump,’ meaning give too much information at one time?
- Did the book move along quickly or slowly?
- Did you ever feel like the story lagged or stalled?
- Was the writing style active or passive? How did that affect the pace of the story?
- Did you ever feel like you weren’t able to catch your breath?
- Was there a good balance between action scenes (doing things) and reaction scenes (thinking about things)?
- Did the ending feel rushed?
- Could you visualize the settings?
- Does the scenery take over the story? In other words, do you know too much about the setting and not enough about the characters or plot?
- Do the setting details feel correct and right for the story? For example: if it is a historical book, did the details seem right for the era?
- Do the characters stay in one spot for too long, or, conversely, do they jump around too much from place to place?
- Are the transitions in setting clear? Do the characters change locations without warning?
- Do the characters interact with the setting or do they exist separate from it? For example: if a character just looks at everything and describes what he/she sees, it can get boring. If the character actually uses all his/her senses, it is more interesting, especially if the character uses and/or touches objects in the environment.
- Did the setting evoke any emotions? For example: does the house feel spooky or does the beach feel romantic?
- How did the main character grow or change?
- Do the characters feel real? Did you feel you got to know them?
- Do the characters speak in ways that match their personalities and backgrounds?
- Are the characters likable or not? Which qualities did you like or dislike?
- Are the characters (even the villain) sufficiently motivated? In other words, do the people have strong enough reasons to do what they’re doing?
- Do the characters’ actions match their personalities? For example: if an uptight banker decides of her own free will to run naked through the park on a Saturday afternoon, there better be a good reason for why she is doing this, like a breakdown or epiphany of some sort.
- Did the characters get to know one another before professing their love for one another? Or, for friendships, did the characters suddenly become best friends without any real connection?
- If the book has sex, did they do it at the right time (too soon/too late?) and often enough (or too much)?
- Is one character too clingy, needy, or dependent?
- If a character changed to be with another character, how did that affect your opinion of that character?
- Can you tell what the main goal of the story is?
- Do events flow well or does the book jump around too much?
- Did the author waste words telling you about things that didn’t have bearing on the plot?
- Does anything feel forced for the sake of convenience to advance the plot? For example: the main character needs to visit someone in another country, but she/he can’t afford a plane ticket. Out of the blue, the main character receives an inheritance and suddenly all his/her money concerns are resolved.
- By the time the book ended, were all the major plot points resolved?
- What clichés, tropes, and/or stereotypes were in the book? How did those affect your opinion of the book?
- Did the word choices, sentence structures, etc. appeal to you? Along the same lines, was the book well-edited or did it contain a lot of errors in spelling or grammar?
- Were you surprised by the way the character solved his/her problem? Or, if it was a mystery, were you surprised by who the villain was?
- Were the stakes high enough for the character? Was there something big that could be lost or destroyed if he/she didn’t succeed?
- Did the resolution seem to come too early or late? In other words, could the character have tried something else first? Or could the character have succeeded earlier but was delayed by the author?
- Did the book have too many or too few subplots?
- Can you tell at the beginning of a chapter whose point of view it will be told from? (The general rule is that the first person mentioned should be the POV character, but that isn’t always the case, and it can get confusing to readers)
- Did the character know things he or she couldn’t possibly know?
- Does the author share too many people’s thoughts in the same chapter or scene?
- Would the book have been better if it had been better told from a different point of view?
- If there was an omniscient narrator, how did that influence the way the story was told? Would it have been better with a limited point-of-view?
- Did the story include too many or too few points of view?
- Was the narrator reliable, meaning honest about how things happened?
- Did the author use tense consistently? If not, did switching between tenses affect your understanding of the story?
- Does the book’s cover represent the story?
- Throughout the story, did details match up? Did the author ever forget a detail (ex: never followed up on a clue) or change a detail later (ex: limped with the right leg, then later limped with the left leg)?
- Does the book’s blurb accurately summarize the story?
- Would you read another book by this author?
- If the book is part of a series, would you continue the series?
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