How to Write a Good Book Review and Book Report for College Level

Writing a good book review and book report is a tremendous source of worry for college students considering that most people don’t know about these types of writing until they get to college. Since it is a serious requirement in college, it is important you know how to write a good book review and book report to score good grades in college. Thus, in this post we’ll be directing you on how to write good book review and book report for college level.

It doesn’t take much to write these styles of writing, you just have to know and follow the guidelines. Once you follow the right guidelines and steps, you should get it right. This post shall be divided into parts with the first part introducing all you need to know about book review and book report. This post will be more beneficial to you if you’re in college level.

First, let’s answer some questions regarding book report and book review.

What is Book Review?

Book review is a summary-like write up based on a book or using a book as a subject matter. In a book review, the writer gives an objective break down and summary of a book. In a book review,  there is no revealing of everything about the book, and it is short from 500 – 2000 words. A review doesn’t provide in-depth and critical presentation of the book.

Nevertheless, a great percentage of the book is revealed or discussed but not deeply as obtained in book report.

What is Book Report?

Book report is also a summary-like writing about a book, discussing that book in full or larger details. In book report, as much information as can be exposed is exposed. The book is broken into parts and discussed in full. Let’s say unlike book review which gives an on-the-surface objective summary of the work, a book report gives a detailed summary of the work.

If you’re a college student, you should note that a book report is often allotted greater marks than a book review since it needs more work and it is longer. In college, marks are awarded to book report based on how detailed the writer is with discussing the work.

For instance, if a college student is requested to write a book report on Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, he or she goes into full details discussing the plot, the characters, the setting, the themes and even his or her personal understanding or verdict of the work. This is can be as long as 3000 words, more or less.

Meanwhile, if it is a book review on the same work, the student don’t have to go too in-depth. A book review is hardly broken into parts and it is on-the-surface summary situation. Book review simply follows discussing the limited details of the book and closing with a remark if it is an engaging book to try or not.

What kind of books is one expected to review or report?

Any kind of book can be reviewed or a report written about the book. In college, your lecturer or instructor can request you write a book report or book review depending on the the coursework of that semester. What you should note is that if you’re given any of them, you should follow the guidelines, be grammatically correct and make sure you do justice to the book.

How to Write a Good Book Review and Book Report for College Level 

In this part of the post, we’ll be displaying and showcasing the tips and guides on how to write a good book review and book report for college. You must know and follow the tips and guidelines below:

  • Get the Book and Read: The first step you should take in embarking on a book review and book report is to get the book and read it. When reading, you should  make sure you read every detail in the book. Since you would be somewhat like a guide, it is wise you read every detail of the book and understand.
  • Comprehend the Book Totally: When reading the book, you should read understand the book. If it is a complicated book where understanding the subject matter is difficult, you should re-read to understand. It is only when you understand the book that you can write about it with authority.
  • Jot down Important Details as you read: You should jot down important details about the book as you read. It is these vital points that would be the skeleton of your work as you write. They would be skeleton guiding your work, and from where you would build your work from and elaborate in detail.
  • Create an Outline: After reading, understanding, and writing the points, the next step is to write the outline of the book report and book review. The outline should be real structure to guide you as you write. Make sure the outline is excellent and it would guide you to write an excellent book report or book review.
  • Write: Then you start writing the book review and book report. Follow the guidelines and obey the grammatical rules. #
  • Obey the Grammatical Rules and Edit Properly: You should ensure you obey all the grammatical rules when writing, and after, you should edit your book review and book report. This is a pertinent point to stick to in this how to write a good book review and book report for college level. Having good use of grammar and having no mistake would fetch you a very great score.
  • Structure of the Book Report and Book Review: When reviewing or reporting, you should stick to the exact structure of the book report and review. The structure of the write-up is almost the same except that in book report, you break it down into parts reporting all the different parts of the book, and it is more detailed. Book review is usually not broken into parts.

Therefore, in both types, you write the title and your name below the title as the author and other relevant details about you. Then at the left hand side of the paper, you write the details of the book like title of the book, author, year of publication, number of pages and even the publishers.

The body of the review follows after containing your thought concerning the book, book review or book report. As we had written earlier, your book report should be more detailed than your book review. We reiterate that why book review is one long flow of thoughts that makes a summary of the book, the book report is more detailed and broken into parts.

In the next part of this post, we would be showing you the examples of book review and example of a book report. These examples are to guide you better on on how to write good book review and book report for college level,

Short Example of a Book Report

A Book Report of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

This is a total book report of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. Half of a Yellow Sun is considered one of the greatest contemporary African Anglophone texts. It follows the tragic story of characters living in Nigeria of the 60’s; just right after the country gained independence, narrated from the points of view of three characters: Ugwu, Olanna and Richard.

Background Summary of Half of a Yellow Sun

In the text, there seems to be no central characters really; instead the author creates a situation where all the characters are unique on their own and have their various perspectives on the events of the text. The three narrators are aptly chosen to critically examine the tragedy in the text. They are chosen from different economic classes, language and culture. Ugwu is from a poor home and is a semi-literate Igbo who sees the text through the eyes of his class. Richard is a middle-class foreigner who sees the tragedy in the text through the eyes of a bewildered stranger and foreigner. Richard is also used in the text to portray or connect to the British–the colonizers of the dysfunctional Nigeria. Olanna is an elite Igbo who sees the tragedy in the text from the angle of an aloof elite.

At the period/time this novel is set–between 1961 – 1970–, Nigeria experienced a civil war that is often considered the bloodiest and the most devastating civil war in Africa till date. Nigeria, newly independent, suffered from a whole lot of crises caused by the corruption inherited from the British and the ethnic favoritism and discrimination and envy among the ethnic groups. This matter worsened after the country’s independence, and while some of these Nigerians thought independence would alleviate their suffering and unite them; it worsened their suffering and further divided them.

The British are well-known for their divide-and-rule antics. They get into their colonies, and bring them together. When the citizens of these colonies are brought together, instead of uniting them, the British set on the task of running and planning on how to divide them for easy rule and administration. These people who may have traded and interacted among themselves begin to consider themselves as different people. It has repeatedly been called divide-and-rule style by scholars.

Thus, this is the same tactics that was applied by the British in the administration of Nigeria. Due to the nature of the stubbornness and the highly democratic standing of the Igbo, the British resented the Igbo, because most Igbo opposed their colonial rule over Nigeria and organized one of the longest anti-colonial war (the Ekumeku War) against the British in Nigeria. Therefore, it was pretty easy for the British to create enmity between Igbo and other tribes in Nigeria.

The Igbo with their high tendency for success and wealth acquisition and their braggadocio nature easily created enmity for themselves. Other tribes began to detest them. The hatred or dislike increased and fully showcased itself during the first coup, which was later tagged Igbo coup, and the second one seen as a counter coup against the first Igbo coup. The second coup resulted in the progrom of the Igbo in Northern Nigeria and then the civl war that caused the Biafran State the lives of over 2 million people, mainly children and women and the elderly.  

Summary and Analysis of the Events of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun starts as Ugwu is taken to Odenigbo to begin working for him as his house boy/servant in the newly established University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Ugwu’s character development begins as one who is naive and ignorant of the processes of living in a modern environment. So, he takes a while before he becomes accustomed to staying in a modern environment–Odenigbo’s house, the university environment and Nsukka town.

Soon enough, Olanna, Odenigbo’s mistress is introduced. Odenigbo, who is a HOT senior lecturer with lots of hair and muscles in the university, falls in love with Olanna. Olanna is a beautiful, kind and intelligent young woman who acquired university degrees in the UK. They love themselves too much, but their love for each other encounters a lot of hassles and test–first their parents do not support their union, then Odenigbo sleeps with his house girl and impregnates her, Olanna sleeps with Richard, and the war devastates them, taking and testing most of the love that held them together.

Richard is also introduced at the beginning of the novel as having migrated from his middle-class home in the UK to Nigeria. He runs away from many things he is familiar with at home and decides to spend a good time in Nigeria discovering himself. However, his experience in Nigeria doesn’t turn out well as he gets into a rough friendship with Susan before he discovers Kainene, Olanna’s sister, and falls in love with her. The love is also tested as he cheats on Kainene with her sister, Olanna. The war equally makes him suffer.

Richard, Ugwu, Olanna and Odenigbo are all in the university town of Nsukka while Kainene is in Port Harcourt, their parents in Lagos and their relatives in the North when the whole crisis of the country and the novel begins. First, a coup (later tagged Igbo coup) comes up. The people are glad that an end to the corruption in the government has stopped. Then, the North seeing it as Igbo coup retaliates and executes a counter coup, after the counter coup comes the progrom leading to the civil war. In the progrom, Olanna and Kainene lose their relatives in the North.

These characters, like the short-lived country and other characters in the text, are not prepared for the war. Even though they are jubilant and somewhat defiant of the Federal Government’s ploy to make them continue remaining in Nigeria, and that they are buoyed by the massacre of their relatives, does not stop the carnage the war brought upon them. In the war, there were also cases of inhumane treatment, brutality, rape, murder, starvation, malnutrition, and the Biafran people still insisted on continuing the path to the succession and the war.  

The Nigerian/Biafran Civil War is very tragic for the people of former Eastern Nigeria as represented in the novel. Nigeria choose hunger as weapon of war and Biafran people starve to death, especially the children and the elderly. Kainene runs a refugee camp and it is through this camp the readers see the tragedy of the war.

The main characters of the novel are not exempted as hunger, violence, bombing, constant moving and loss of lives and properties ravage their lives in the war. Odenigbo loses his mother and becomes a different person entirely. He takes to drinking cheap gin and drifts away from the love he shares with Olanna. Ugwu regrets what they have lost and develops high sexual interest in girls Ugwu is conscripted in Biafran Army and badly wounded.

Richard works as a freelance journalist for the course of Biafra during the war, achieving, albeit briefly, what he had always wanted to be–a successful and well-read writer. This does not last, though, as he loses his status after the war. Kainene and Olanna discover that in the war, they are no longer elites as they become middle-class and are hard-hit by the tragedy of the war like other regular people. The war touches and changes every character’s life in the novel.

Towards the end of the war, Kainene goes for Afia attack and never returns. Thus, the pain of the disappearance of Kainene is felt by 80% of the readers of the novel even though her character isn’t that well liked. The other characters are all devastated about her disappearance, especially Richard and Olanna. At the end, they do all they can to find her, but it’s to no avail.

As the novel comes to a close, Olanna realizes she suffered a lot in the cold hand of the war, losing her relatives, her savings in Lagos and in the East, and the her sister. She ends the novel with “uwa m uwa ozo. Kainene will always be my sister,” with tears in her eyes.

Characters in Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

  1. Olanna – Odenigbo’s mistress and later wife. Kainene’s sister. A lecturer in the newly established University of Nigeria.
  • Odenigbo – Olanna’s lover and later Husband. A lecturer in the newly established University of Nigeria.
  • Richard – A Brit. Kainene’s lover. An upcoming writer and journalist resident in Nsukka before the war.
  • Kainene – Richard’s lover. Olanna’s sister. Businesswoman and philanthropist.
  • Ugwu – Odenigbo’s servant/house boy.
  • Chief & Mrs Ozobia: The parents of Olanna and Kainene.
  • Okeoma – A prominent poet resident in Nsukka before the war. He is Odenigbo’s good friend. He dies as a soldier fighting for the Biafran side.
  • Ms. Adebayo: Odenigbo’s friend and a lecturer at Nsukka. She loves argument.
  • Eberechi: Ugwu’s girlfriend. She loses her live in the war.
  1. Mama: Odenigbo’s beloved mother. She dies during the war.
  1. Anulika: Ugwu’s smart sister. She and Ugwu cherish each other very much and tell themselves dirty secret. She is raped during the war.
  1. Aunty Ifeka: Olanna’s and Kainene’s beloved aunt.

Setting of Half of a Yellow Sun

It is set in Nigeria right after independence, between 1962 – 1970. War takes place within this period, 1967 – 1970. It is set mainly in Nsukka, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Umuahia parts of Nigeria.

Summary of Themes in Half of a Yellow Sun

  1. Theme of Love and Betrayal: The characters are in a great love entaglement; Odenigbo loves Olanna, Richard loves Kainene, even Richard fancies Olanna. This leads to the sex they had that made Richard cheat on Kainene. Before Kainene forgave this, it was late.
  • Theme of Conflict/War: The misunderstanding between the ethnic groups leads to the conflict in the text which results to violence and even a full-blown war.
  • Theme of Sexual Abuse: In the novel, especially during the war, women are sexually abused. Ugwu’s sister is abused and Ugwu also partakes in abusing another girl.

The Language/Style of the Novel

The language and diction is easy. It follows and is easily understood. There is use of third-person-narrative technique.

Example of a Book Review

War and Love: A Book Review of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

Title:                            Half of a Yellow Sun

Author:                        Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Year of Publication:   2007

Place of Publication:   Lagos

Publisher:                    Farafina

Number of Pages:       560 pp.

Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun is a literary fiction with a new kind of style and structure. It follows the tragic story of characters living in Nigeria of the 60’s; just right after the country gained independence, narrated from the points of view of three characters: Ugwu, Olanna and Richard, told in a way that fascinates the reader.

In the narration of the scintillating story, there seems to be no central characters really; instead the author creates a situation where all the characters are unique on their own and have their various perspectives on the events of the text. The three narrators are aptly chosen to critically examine the tragedy in the text. They are chosen from different economic classes, language and culture.

Ugwu is from a poor home and is a semi-literate Igbo who sees the text through the eyes of his class. Richard is a middle-class foreigner who sees the tragedy in the text through the eyes of a bewildered stranger and foreigner. Richard is also used in the text to portray or connect to the British–the colonizers of the dysfunctional Nigeria. Olanna is an elite Igbo who sees the tragedy in the text from the angle of an aloof elite.

At the period/time this novel is set–between 1961 – 1970–, Nigeria experienced a civil war that is often considered the bloodiest and the most devastating civil war in Africa till date. Nigeria, newly independent, suffered from a whole lot of crises caused by the corruption inherited from the British and the ethnic favoritism and discrimination and envy among the ethnic groups.

Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun starts as Ugwu is taken to Odenigbo to begin working for him as his house boy/servant in the newly established University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Ugwu’s character development begins as one who is naive and ignorant of the processes of living in a modern environment. So, he takes a while before he becomes accustomed to staying in a modern environment–Odenigbo’s house, the university environment and Nsukka town.

Soon enough, Olanna, Odenigbo’s mistress is introduced. Odenigbo, who is a HOT senior lecturer with lots of hair and muscles in the university, falls in love with Olanna. Olanna is a beautiful, kind and intelligent young woman who acquired university degrees in the UK. They love themselves too much, but their love for each other encounters a lot of hassles and test–first their parents do not support their union, then Odenigbo sleeps with his house girl and impregnates her, Olanna sleeps with Richard, and the war devastates them, taking and testing most of the love that held them together.

Richard is also introduced at the beginning of the novel as having migrated from his middle-class home in the UK to Nigeria. He runs away from many things he is familiar with at home and decides to spend a good time in Nigeria discovering himself. However, his experience in Nigeria doesn’t turn out well as he gets into a rough friendship with Susan before he discovers Kainene, Olanna’s sister, and falls in love with her. The love is also tested as he cheats on Kainene with her sister, Olanna. The war equally makes him suffer.

Richard, Ugwu, Olanna and Odenigbo are all in the university town of Nsukka while Kainene is in Port Harcourt, their parents in Lagos and their relatives in the North when the whole crisis of the country and the novel begins. First, a coup (later tagged Igbo coup) comes up. The people are glad that an end to the corruption in the government has stopped. Then, the North seeing it as Igbo coup retaliates and executes a counter coup, after the counter coup comes the progrom leading to the civil war. In the progrom, Olanna and Kainene lose their relatives in the North.

These characters, like the short-lived country and other characters in the text, are not prepared for the war. Even though they are jubilant and somewhat defiant of the Federal Government’s ploy to make them continue remaining in Nigeria, and that they are buoyed by the massacre of their relatives, does not stop the carnage the war brought upon them. In the war, there were also cases of inhumane treatment, brutality, rape, murder, starvation, malnutrition, and the Biafran people still insisted on continuing the path to the succession and the war.  

The Nigerian/Biafran Civil War is very tragic for the people of former Eastern Nigeria as represented in the novel. Nigeria choose hunger as weapon of war and Biafran people starve to death, especially the children and the elderly. Kainene runs a refugee camp and it is through this camp the readers see the tragedy of the war.

The main characters of the novel are not exempted as hunger, violence, bombing, constant moving and loss of lives and properties ravage their lives in the war. Odenigbo loses his mother and becomes a different person entirely. He takes to drinking cheap gin and drifts away from the love he shares with Olanna. Ugwu regrets what they have lost and develops high sexual interest in girls Ugwu is conscripted in Biafran Army and badly wounded.

Richard works as a freelance journalist for the course of Biafra during the war, achieving, albeit briefly, what he had always wanted to be–a successful and well-read writer. This does not last, though, as he loses his status after the war. Kainene and Olanna discover that in the war, they are no longer elites as they become middle-class and are hard-hit by the tragedy of the war like other regular people. The war touches and changes every character’s life in the novel.

The novel is written in a simple language. The writing style is unique and different. It is a novel anyone would love to read as important matters are discussed without the themes overriding the plot. The plot runs concurrently with the themes, and they are joined perfectly

Conclusion

How to write a good book review and book report for college level is not much of a problem if you had gone through this writing guide. The simple fact is know what to do and how to do it. If you know the proper thing to do you should score an A-grade when you write and submit for marking as a college student.

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Source of Examples for Book Review and Book Report: Summary of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

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