Below are some sample questions to give an idea on how I critique and review the books that I read. I believe that all these elements should weave together to make a truly unforgettable book.
Bibliographic information (title, author, publisher etc.)
Who published the book? How long is it? Format refers to the format that I read it in and not the available formats.
- What style of narration is it?
- Does it work with or against the story?
- Is it credible?
- Is it flat or intriguing?
- If using multiple narrators, are they distinguishable?
- Is there a lapse in narrative style at any point?
- Are we emotionally invested in the characters?
- Do their actions and words reflect each individual character?
- How do we receive information about them? In blocks? Or snippets and actions?
- Are they carbon copies?
- Do the obstacles them?
- Is the plot different to what’s come before? How? Is there something new or different?
- Is there a three-act structure – a beginning, a middle and an end? (not always necessary but a basic model that most stories should follow)
- Are we taken on a journey?
- Does the plot live up to the book blurb?
Quality Of Writing:
- Are the same words repeated?
- If there are new terms (in fiction or sci-fi, for example), are they explained? And how are they explained?
- How much does the author show and how much do they tell?
- Is the dialogue sharp and exciting?
- Is their appropriate punctuation?
- Are there clunky sentences?
- Are their shifts between tenses?
- Are we told where it is set?
- If so, does the environmental detail reflect and reinforce the location?
- If it is set in a fictional location, is there enough detail to anchor the story and allow the reader to visualise it?
- How does the author show us their world?
- Are his/her world-building techniques successful?
- Is there anything that stands out from the competition – in narrative voice, form, character, setting, plot or the quality of the writing?
- Does it succeed in standing out in a crowded market?
- Does it take something classic and revision it, infusing it with an edge or a new slant?
- Does it push the envelope?
One sentence that sums up the book.
Books You May Also Like:
2-4 suggestions and their strong points that make them worth reading (all in relation to the reviewed book).
My reviews are mostly objective and the purpose of this marking scheme is to show where a story is lacking. Some readers might prefer character over plot and this may sway them in favour of a particular book where another reader might value both character AND plot.