23 julio, 2024

Review of a novel: characteristics, how to do it, example

What is a novel review?

A review is a brief description of a book, movie or event, which is generally prepared to be presented in newspapers, magazines, digital pages or audiovisual media.

The review of a novel consists precisely in describing the content of the book, highlighting its most important aspects, providing information about the author, and placing the work in a larger context (novelistic genre, national origin, etc.).

This type of written text is done by journalists who are commissioned to publish a review of a new novel, by media editors who are specialized in literature, by students who have to finish class work or even by youtubers.

Characteristics of a novel review

Catchy title

Some review writers usually title the review with some allusion to the novel (“The gentleman of the sad figure returns”, to refer to a new edition of the Quixote), but sometimes the review is titled with that of the novel.

Data of the work

In the review of a novel, the title of the work, the author, the publisher and the year of publication should never be missing. If it is a translation, the translator must also be mentioned. When possible, and depending on the publication, the price is also placed.


The content of the review is usually divided into sections, which are not always the same, but are usually the following:

The review should mention the subject and, if deemed necessary, indicate the genre to which it belongs (comedy, police, romance, historical, etc.), without mentioning relevant data or that may affect reading (say, for example, who is the murderer in a thriller).

Even if it is a well-known author, it is advisable to provide some information, such as place and date of birth (and death, if applicable), most notable previous publications and other life information if considered relevant.

In addition to the plot, mention is usually made of the author’s style and the treatment of the subject addressed by the novel.

Depending on the space available (the length of the review), you can cite fragments of the novel that are considered significant or to show the author’s style.

If they exist, the opinions for and against should be mentioned, and generally the author of the review advances his own judgment before concluding it.

The review of a novel generally goes from half a page to about four pages; exceptionally it can be longer, although it may already be an article or essay.

Types of novel reviews

The review can be of various types, according to the reader to whom it is intended or intended: academic, critical, informative or promotional. There may be reviews that include more than one of these fields.


It is the one that is produced for educational and academic publications, for students and professors. Generally, it must comply with methodological criteria and a predetermined structure, especially when citing works or mentioning authors.


It is a review aimed at evaluating and qualifying the novel and can be found in both academic publications and those intended for the general public.


It is the review that appears in the news section of newspapers and magazines, or in editorial and library catalogues. It is a review with the minimum data of the work and the author.


It is very frequent in the media (newspapers, magazines, web pages, social networks, etc.), and its main objective is to publicize the work while describing it.

How to review a novel?

The steps to review a novel are as follows:


Carry out a first reading to have an overview of the plot, the plot and the style of the novel. You can take some notes, mentally or on paper.

Carry out a second, more attentive reading, taking notes about the story, the characters, transcribing or marking passages that are considered important or that you want to mention when preparing the review.

search title

It is convenient to title the review in such a way that it attracts the reader and at the same time provides information about the novel that is going to be commented on.

Essential facts

At the beginning of the review, it is convenient to mention the title of the work, the name of the author, the publisher, the year of publication and the extension (number of pages).

If it is a version of another language, the translator must also be mentioned. If there is a prologue, name the author, unless he is the same writer of the novel.


Once the readings are done, you have to look for information about the author and the work, which nowadays can be a simple activity thanks to the internet.


If more than one page is available, an approximation to the novel can be made, speaking a little about the previous work of the author to be reviewed, or about the genre in which the novel is framed.


Describes the plot and the plot, without revealing key facts (without making spoilers), but providing an idea to the reader. It will also be necessary to mention the main character or characters and talk about the style.

References and conclusion

Mention, if any, positive and negative opinions about the novel, and advance your own opinion, answering any of these questions: Did the author achieve what he proposed? Is this novel better than his previous work? How does this work compare with other similar and contemporary works by other authors? Is it recommended to read?

Example: Review of Morell’s inventionby Adolfo Bioy Casares

Below is an example of a novel review Morell’s inventionby the Argentine writer Adolfo de Bioy Casares.

«The invention of Bioy Casares», review of Morell’s inventionby Adolfo Bioy Casares

Foreword by Jorge Luis Borges

Taurus Books, 1940 (digital edition, PDF, s/f)

44 pp

“I have discussed with its author the details of its plot, I have reread it; It does not seem to me to be imprecision or hyperbole to describe it as perfect”. With these words he concludes his preface to the first edition of Morell’s inventionhis friend Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986).

Published in 1940, and consecrated by critics as one of the best Latin American fantastic stories of the 20th century, it is also considered the most important literary work of the Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares.

A Venezuelan fugitive arrives on an island, escaping from an imaginary dictatorship (not the current one), where he eventually discovers a group of inhabitants or tourists, from whom he initially hides, until he realizes that they seem to ignore him.

As the main character gains confidence, he discovers that in addition to the tourist facilities, there are other more mysterious ones. And while he investigates, he falls in love with one of the tourists.

Narrated in the first person by a character who never reveals his name to us, Morell’s invention heralds some technological advances, while talking to us about loneliness, love, death and our notions of consciousness and reality.

Eighty years after its publication, this story by Bioy Casares continues to preserve its mystery and freshness, and keeps alive the invitation to accompany him in exploring this mysterious island.


Navarro, F., Abramovich, AL (2012). The academic review. Taken from colostate.edu.
How to write a literary review? (2018). Taken from ucb.edu.pr.
A Book Review (2020). Taken from site.google.com.
Plaja, L. (2020). How to Write a Book Review. Taken from booktrust.or.uk.
Academic genre: Review (2020). Taken from blogs.iteso.mx.
Bioy Casares, A. (2020). Morell’s invention. Taken from

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