Everyone who has been in school has had to write a book report at one time or another. Book reports tell the reader what a book is about and identify some of the key topics, themes, and ideas in the text.
While this process can be rather straightforward for nonfiction books and for regular literary fiction, some people have trouble applying the same level of scrutiny to science fiction books because of the more complicated layers of genre, symbolism, and science that go into this type of fiction. Fortunately, there are a few science fiction book report writing tips that can help you to develop stronger book reports about novels in the science fiction genre.
Don’t Just Summarize the Plot
The plot of a science fiction book is most often just one part of what makes the book important and interesting. Your book review shouldn’t just summarize the plot of the book. For example, a book review of Jurassic Park that describes it as a book about genetically engineered dinosaurs who get loose at a theme park is technically correct, but it misses out on the important message that the novel is sending. Similarly, the bare plot of The Island of Doctor Moreau—a mad scientist makes people out of animals—doesn’t tell you much about the author’s message and the deeper meaning of the book. In other words, you need to look for the underlying theme and ideas.
Identify the Key Theme or Message
Most science fiction books have something to say about the world today and use science fiction to communicate that message. For example, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 isn’t just a book about book-burning; it’s also an indictment of several strains in mid-century society that seemed to be pushing individuals away from active intellectual engagement with the society around them. Simply summarizing the plot doesn’t give enough information about this important aspect of the book.
As you read a science fiction book, think about what the author is trying to say. Is there a deeper message? If so, what might that be? Look, too, for themes in the novel. These themes often reflect the central message and can help you to identify that message and how the author supports it.
In most types of literature, there are symbols. In The Scarlet Letter, the big red letter A that Hester must wear is a pretty major symbol. In science fiction, however, there are many different symbols, and the deviations from the modern world used to create the science fiction world of the novel are usually great places to look for symbols and their deeper meaning. For example, many science fiction novels make use of space aliens. What do the aliens signify? Sometimes, they represent encounters with foreigners, and other times they represent divinities, the future, or any number of other things. Identifying and explaining symbols can help you to bring out the richness of a novel.
Finally, you’ll want to think about the literary value of the science fiction work. Historically, literary critics have considered “genre” fiction to be less valuable to the literary scene that so-called literary fiction, but this is starting to change. Nevertheless, science fiction tends to come in many flavors, and they are not all created equal. Is the book you are reading meant to be a high-end piece of highbrow literature, or is it a piece of entertaining pulp fiction? While pulp genre fiction has its pleasures, it often needs to be approached differently from a novel that was created to be overtly literary. Every piece of literature encodes information about the time and place when and where it was written, and even disposable pulp fiction serves to speak to the cultural moment in which it was created.
These guidelines are represented by a book report writer at SmartWritingService.com, – a professional academic writing service.