Mar 30 2022

How to Start a Book Review Essay

Adela Belin photo Adela Belin Content strategist and writer
Writing Advice

When we talk about book review essays, many people immediately think of them as something only avid bookworms or readers can write.

Original: SourceGuess what, that’s not true.

Anyone can write a book review essay but how do you write one that creates a solid first impression? It all begins with how you choose to start a book review. In this article, we will cover how to start a book review essay along with tips to help you deliver a polished piece of work.

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How to Start a Book Review Essay

One of the things you must have heard as a student is how important essay introductions are. If your introduction is weak, there’s no way the reader is going to remain engaged to get to the end of your paper. The same holds true for book review essays.

Let’s take a look at how you can start a book review essay with a bang. We’ve also shared examples of actual book reviews for your inspiration.

1. Introduce the author

Good writing practice recommends that every book review essay must mention the author of the book. This is because the first thing we look at when buying a book is its author. The same for a book review essay.

So, start the review by mentioning the author’s full name. There are two ways you can use to reveal the name of the author to your readers. You can highlight the name next to the title.

Another way is to mention the author in the beginning sentences of your book essay review.

Always use APA format when referencing the author. In subsequent paragraphs, you can reference the author using his/her first or last name.

2. Introduce the title of the book

Another important element to include when starting a book review essay is the title of the book. Readers need to know the type of book they are reading. Remember also to mention when the book was launched.

If the book is part of a series, tell your readers the part of the series it belongs to and also mention if it has been played on TV. This will help the reader know what other books in the series they can read.

3. Show the reader what the book is about

To save your reader’s time, quickly state the genre of the book. Is it fiction or nonfiction? Is it about history or biography?

Show your audience early the type of book so that they can decide if they can invest their time. In our previous example, you can see that the reviewer has highlighted the genre, literary fiction and the next as fantasy. This makes it easier for your audience to focus more on the genre they love.

4. Hook the audience’s attention

You have probably heard it said several times that the attention span of humans is less than that of a jellyfish.

Aside from that, people these days prefer to skim content. To ensure your readers don’t just scroll past the review, start your book review essay with a strong hook. There are many ways of capturing your audience’s attention.

a) Question or a catchy phrase

If you want to easily pique your audience's interest, consider looking for something with a dash of drama.

Starting your book review essay with storytelling puts your readers on the scene. To succeed, pick a scene from the story and try to describe it. Remember to keep it short.

b) Quote

Did any quotes strike you while reading the book? If the quote is interesting, tear-jerking, or thought-provoking, consider using it at the start of the review essay.

A good quote will add weight to your review and even make it share-worthy. But ensure to keep it short. Large blocks of text will be a put off to your readers. So look for the most salient phrase, and if possible, include only a single word.

5. Share an interesting fact about the time the book was written

To pique your readers’ curiosity, share something from an era when the book was published, especially if it is from a famous person. You could also choose something that influenced the author to write the book.

6. Introduce the characters briefly

Characters are another important element that readers look for in a book review essay. This is because book readers want to relate with them. Without highlighting the characters, your introductory paragraphs may feel flat.

You don’t need to mention all the characters, but it would be ideal if you can briefly mention the protagonist and antagonist as they are usually the main characters that bring life to a story.

7. Highlight the book or author’s success

Is the book a bestseller? How many positive reviews has it gained on Amazon? Has it been endorsed by another talented author or an actor? Mention that when starting any book review essay.

People love to be associated with success and successful people and the quickest way to get readers to read through your book review essay is by highlighting its success now or even at its time of publication.

8. State your opinion

Depending on where you are writing the review, sometimes you may need to start with the rating. For example, if you are reviewing it on your blog or to readers who love to skim, showing your ratings in the first paragraph or below the title will quickly hook your audience’s attention, and consider reading the whole review.

It encourages your audience to find out why you gave a good or bad review.

9. Introduce the major findings or thesis

The thesis statement is the one main idea you will be reviewing. It is usually a sentence, but it must reflect the author’s goal. Your thesis statement shows the reader your argument about the book, and it should come at the end of this introductory paragraph.

To write the best thesis statement, inquire from your lecturer first how much interpretation is needed. Remember that you are sharing your own opinion, reflecting on the goal the author wanted to achieve. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when writing a thesis statement:

  • What was the purpose of the book? To inform or entertain?
  • What was your learning outcome?
  • What is your position?

The response to your questions should lead you to your thesis statement, which you use to discuss the success or failure of the book.

7 Tips to Consider while Starting a Book Review Essay

The reason your professor may assign you this type of work is to learn how to carefully analyze a text and improve your writing, reading, and thinking skills. As a result, there are tips to consider when starting a book review essay.

1. Make it short and streamlined: Book review essays are generally 500-1500 words. Keep your introduction brief. Get to the point faster. Avoid rambling or lengthy words. Every word should count to keep the length as short as possible. If it is long, it will be time-consuming to read, which moves away from what a review is.

2. Proofread and edit carefully: Spelling and grammar mistakes, especially of names of characters or the book author signal you haven’t thoroughly read the book. To be taken seriously, don’t publish a review without proofreading carefully to correct mistakes in spelling and grammar.

3. Don’t exaggerate: As much as you are giving a subjective evaluation, don’t exaggerate, use derogatory terms, or harsh words even if the book didn’t meet your expectations. Be honest and avoid prejudice.

4. Use past tense since it is work you have already read.

5. Use adjectives that show passion and easily express your opinion and stance.

6. Be specific: Explain why you like or hate the book without beating about the bush.

7. Focus on the book, not the author.


In this post, we have covered all the ways of starting a book review. Now you know that any time you are reviewing a book, what will make the reader read your review lies in how you set the introduction. As a result, most of your effort must go into how you start the review.

Whether you use storytelling, an anecdote, or highlight a book’s success, how you start your book review essay should give the reader the benefit they will get or show why the author is an expert and immediately get the reader interested in reading the rest of the book review essay. Besides, it should guide you on the theme to use in the body of the book review.

last edit at Sep 22 2022