Prompts for Reviewing Specific Book Genres

Every book genre is its own species of literature. The internal logic, literary style, length, content, and syntax can vary widely from book to book, all depending on which section of the bookstore you're standing in. A work of classic literature cannot be fairly compared to a recent romance novel, for example; they were developed in different time periods, by different writers and different editors with entirely distinct style guidelines and tastes.

Since the rules guiding each genre of literature vary so extensively, it is important for a book reviewer to approach different genres of books in different ways. A popular memoir should not be judged on the same terms as a science text. This would not only be disingenuous and unfair, it would not be helpful to the reader. So before you pen a book review, keep in mind the following genre guidelines. These are just a sample of the many factors to consider, of course.

What type of dialogue is appropriate to the genre?

In literary fiction and creative nonfiction, short pithy dialogue is the ideal. Writers in these genres are instructed to keep dialogue short and useful; if an exchange does not impart plot information or tell the reader something crucial about the characters, it should generally be cut. Dialogue in these genres is highly edited and perfected, and should sound realistic but not naturalistic. For instance, it should lack the flaws and intelligence of normal human speech.

Contrast this with the dialogue style seen in fantasy and science fiction novels. In these genres, characters are often very long winded, and speak in a highly unnatural, stylized manner that reflects the culture and world they exist in. Characters often use fictionalized slang, invented words, or archaic sentence construction, and sound nothing like normal people from the present era. Exposition is doled out in science fiction and fantasy dialogue, and whole pages can be devoted to a single quotation.

What is the goal of the work?

Different genres have highly distinct aims. A work of literary fiction is expected to edify the reader, to make a grand artistic statement, and to present some level of challenge that the reader must tackle. It is acceptable, then, for a literary novel to have complex dialogue and intricate, confusing plot points, as well as some dry portions that are very dense with ideas. In contrast, a romance novel or young adult novel is expected to be both profitable and widely accessible Such books use language that is easier to read. Word counts are generally lower, and complexity of plot and language will be reduced. This is not a failing on the part of these novels; it is simply the expected style for that form.

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