Questions to Consider Before Writing a Book Review

Questions to Consider Before Writing a Book Review



  • From what sources are the characters drawn?
  • What is the author's attitude toward his characters?
  • Are the characters flat or three dimensional?
  • Does character development occur?
  • Is character delineation direct or indirect?


  • What is/are the major theme(s)?
  • How are they revealed and developed?
  • Is the theme traditional and familiar, or new and original?
  • Is the theme didactic, psychological, social, entertaining, escapist, etc. in purpose or intent?


  • How are the various elements of plot (eg, introduction, suspense, climax, conclusion) handled?
  • What is the relationship of plot to character delineation?
  • To what extent, and how, is accident employed as a complicating and/or resolving force?
  • What are the elements of mystery and suspense?
  • What other devices of plot complication and resolution are employed?
  • Is there a sub plot and how is it related to the main plot?
  • Is the plot primary or secondary to some of the other essential elements of the story (character,
  • setting, style, etc.)?


  • What are the "intellectual qualities" of the writing (e.g., simplicity, clarity)?
  • What are the "emotional qualities" of the writing (e.g., humour, wit, satire)?
  • What are the "aesthetic qualities" of the writing (e.g., harmony, rhythm)?
  • What stylistic devices are employed (e.g., symbolism, motifs, parody, allegory)?
  • How effective is dialogue?


  • What is the setting and does it play a significant role in the work?
  • Is a sense of atmosphere evoked, and how?
  • What scenic effects are used and how important and effective are they?
  • Does the setting influence or impinge on the characters and/or plot?


  • Does the book give a "full length" picture of the subject?
  • What phases of the subject's life receive greatest treatment and is this treatment justified?
  • What is the point of view of the author?
  • How is the subject matter organized: chronologically, retrospectively, etc.?
  • Is the treatment superficial or does the author show extensive study into the subject's life?
  • What source materials were used in the preparation of the biography?
  • Is the work documented?
  • Does the author attempt to get at the subject's hidden motives?
  • What important new facts about the subject's life are revealed in the book?
  • What is the relationship of the subject's career to contemporary history?
  • How does the biography compare with others about the same person?How does it compare with other works by the same author?


  • With what particular period does the book deal?
  • How thorough is the treatment?
  • What were the sources used?
  • Is the account given in broad outline or in detail?
  • Is the style that of reportorial writing, or is there an effort at interpretive writing?
  • What is the point of view or thesis of the author?
  • Is the treatment superficial or profound?
  • For what group is the book intended (textbook, popular, scholarly, etc.)?
  • What part does biographical writing play in the book?
  • Is social history or political history emphasized?
  • Are dates used extensively, and if so, are they used intelligently?
  • Is the book a revision? How does it compare with earlier editions?
  • Are maps, illustrations, charts, etc. used and how are these to be evaluated?


Last modified: Saturday, April 15, 2017, 11:01 PM