a girl with books in the air around her. For our youth page
Aiden Brown, book reviewer

Over the 2018-19 Summer HWC ran a Book Review competition in partnership with The Compulsive Reader.

Click on the reviewers’ names to read the wonderful reviews

Winner: Emily McDonnell (top right)

Highly Commended: Aiden Brown (left) and Dana Ohmenzetter

Commended: Valentina Plisko, Kaitlin Buckingham, Fiona Leighton, Cleo Scott Huggins, Zippie Tiffenright (bottom right)

Our winner was awarded $100, Highly Commended won $50 cash prizes

And Commended Reviewers won fabulous YA books donated by

Harper Collins logo     Pan Macmillan Aust logo     

Emily McDonnell of Maitland, winner Book Review comp
Zippie Tiffenright - reviewer

I was so impressed by the qualiy of the reviews that came in, and was heartened above all by the enthusiasm around the books that were read.

All of the reviews, without fail, were enthusiastic, and generally well-written.  One of the key things that differentiated the winner, highly commended and shortlisted reviews from those that weren’t chosen was the level of detail and analysis.  Some of the reviews submitted were very short and read like back cover copy – just a hint of tantelising promotion and plot summary.  This is great if you’re a publisher promoting the book, but generally not enough for a book review, where readers are coming to you for your critical judgement on whether they should spend their limited money and time on this book.  For that, what works best is a solid look at why the book is an enjoyable read, what works well (with examples) and what doesn’t work so well; how the book compares to others in its genre, and what kind of reader the book would appeal to.  The audience for a review is readers, and usually readers like you – most likely your own age.  Good reviewers get a following because people come to respect your judgement and know that your readings and assessments are honest, and very carefully considered.  

The reviews that I chose for first place and highly commended were not only enticing reads in themselves, but also really went deeply into the setting, the characters, the themes, the readerships, and the ultimate impact of the book. First place winner, Emily McDonell, reviewed Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire and provided lots of information about setting, characters, and thematics in an engaging style that draws the reader into the confidence of the telling without sacrificing specifics.

Logo for Hunter Writers Centre
Compulsive Reader logo

How to write a riveting review – tips

Read the whole book! It may seem obvious but a good sense of the whole of the book is vital.

Give a quick overview of the storyline but don’t write a long step-by-step plot summary.

Describe some of the characters, the setting, the theme(s), the writing style, any symbols.

Tell the reader what does and doesn’t work and why.

What other books does this one reminds you of?

Anything else that appeals (or doesn’t appeal) to you as a reader?

Think about the target market – who would the book appeal to and why?

If you can write all of the above in a smooth way that flows all the better!