In the opening paragraph, identify the main topic or theme or perspective on the book. Why is the author writing? What is the message he/she is attempting to convey? Why does it matter?
The following paragraphs contain a summary the book. In a novel, you can compare the treatment of the subject by the author with what your knowledge from the text or other sources. This part of the review should not be more than half of the length of the review.
The student should then proceed to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the book. How well has the author achieved his or her goals for the novel? Is it a compelling story? Does it capture the spirit of the period with which it deals? are the characters complex enough to hold your interest?
In the concluding paragraphs, the student is required to place the book into the context of the course. How does the book fit with the lectures, discussions, and other readings? What does it add to our understanding of the historical topic at hand?