Categories for a Book Review: Note-Taking Prompts (grade value: 3 points)
Answer each and every one of the following questions on notebook paper. Allow about a half page each, more or less. These will be the foundation of your essay.
Note a general pattern here: you will first describe what the book does in each category, then you will give your opinion about how well it does it.
Background on Author and the Book
1. What is worth knowing about the author (qualifications, biases, other works, related stories)?
2. What is worth knowing about the book? (When did the book come out? Is it a sequel? Is it part of a certain type of literature? Was it a bestseller? Is/was it controversial? Do a certain type of people love it? Was it based on a movie, or on a true story? Etc.)
1. What is the main character like? (Male/female, age, attitude, problems, unique traits)
2. Is the main character believable? Likeable? Complex? Do you care about him/her?
3. Are the other characters believable, likeable, complex, etc?
1. What are the main conflicts or choices that characters make?
2. Is there action? Suspense? Is the drama more like a thriller, a soap opera or something else?
3. Does the plot happen because of the way the characters are (Is the plot “character-driven”), or because of outside circumstances?
4. Is it an interesting story to tell, with interesting events?
Setting (Where and When)
1. Where does the book take place? (If more than one location, name them)
2. When does the book take place? (If more than one time, name them)
3. Is the setting interesting? Do you like some settings in the book more than others?
Voice (Point of View and Tone)
1. What is/are the point of view(s)—1st person, 3rd person omniscient, 3rd person limited? Would you prefer if it were done differently?
2. What is the tone, or attitude, of the narrator? Is it interesting or annoying or not really noticeable?
1. Pace: Is the pace fast or slow or medium?
2. Is the book descriptive or spare? Are the sentences really long or generally short or mixed? How would you describe the author’s use of language?
3. Does the author do anything a bit unusual, with punctuation or organization or style?
4. Does the book show or tell, or both?
1. How is the book organized? Does it start at the beginning and move into the future, or does it start at the end and flash back? Does it reveal things in little flashbacks as it goes, like through a court case? Etc.
2. Does the structure work well, or would you have put it together differently?
In your opinion, for the story it tells, is it too long, too short, or just right?
What are the themes? For example, is it about class issues, race issues, romance, adventure, greed, growing up, dealing with tragedy, gaining self-esteem, brothers, sisters, mothers and daughters, the immigrant experience, etc?
Creatively complete the following sentences:
Reading this book is like… (compare it to something not related to reading)
The kind of people who will like this book are…
The kind of people who will not like this book are…