The book reviews that I analyzed I found at Tor.com, an online publication. I chose books that are familiar to a wide range of people and whose authors are noted as some of the greatest living of the time or are extremely popular: The Shining by Stephen King, You Suck! by Chritopher Moore, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief, and The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. The reviews are all posted by professional literary critics that have reviewed publications before.
The reviews generally start with a brief summary or synopsis of the work that they are analyzing. This includes a run down of the plot as well as the characters and their place in the work. It gives a decent outline of what can be expected to be addressed in the book as well as what kind of characters and situations that are being dealt with. The length of the summary does not seem to follow a particular format or pattern. Some go into quite a bit of detail in the plot in the summaries, such as in the review for The Clockwork Angel, while others choose to keep it short and straight to the point so that the readers have less of an idea of what is all included in the book, such as in the review for the Mockingjay.
After the summary, the writer addresses specific events or parts of the book that they happened to find interesting in one way or another. For example, the writer for the You Suck! review describes “what struck [her] in particular”, while the writer for the Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief chose to include her favorite part of the book and why it stuck and resonated with her. What follows includes an analysis of the book, as well as the plot and the characters, so as to point out either interesting character development or to praise specific techniques that the author used to achieve a certain affect.
Along the same line as discussing the success of the author and the writing, the review also notoriously contains criticism for what the writer or the book failed to do for the reviewer. For example, the reviewer for Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief wrote about “what bothered [her] about this section of the book” and the reviewer for Mockingjay lamented its flaws such as in the characterization. Whatever praise is mentioned in the review is tampered by some amount of criticism, which is to be expected of the genre. Without negative feedback being involved, I could hardly describe it as criticism.
Lastly, upon weighing what the author has done well against their failings, the writer gives a judgment on whether the book was favorable or unfavorable to them. This is directly addressed near the end of the review in which the writer either encourages others to read it or declares their dissatisfaction with the writing. For example, the reviewer for The Clockwork Angel harshly interjects that the book “left [her] cold and unimpressed”. On the other hand, the reviewer for You Suck! end his review by asking the audience “what more could you want?” out of the reader about the book. The ending judgment of the book that the writer is reviewing is perhaps the most important part. A good review could mean more traffic for the writer and a greater profit, but a bad review could hurt a book’s market or the writer’s reputation.
Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief: http://www.tor.com/2010/07/21/book-review-rick-riordans-the-lightning-thief/