The first and most important thing to do when writing a college level book report is to actually read the book. It might be tempting to use something like Spark Notes, but that won’t give you the knowledge you need to write an effective critique. So read the book carefully, and if possible give yourself some time to reflect on it before starting your paper.
When you’re ready to write the book review, the first you’ll need (after the introduction and thesis) is a short summary. Notice the word “short." The summarization should take up no more than a third of your paper, and a forth would probably be better. You don’t have to explain every plot twist and every chapter—just give the reader an overview of what happens in the book and what it’s about.
Before you start writing this part of the book report, you might want to figure out what you’ll be covering in the analysis section (see below). That way, you can summarize with an eye towards what you’ll be discussing later on. If you spend most of the paper talking about how the theme of greed plays out in the book, your summary should focus on those parts of the book that illustrate greed and its consequences.
It’s possible you might not need to include a summary in your critical review. Some professors want you to assume your reader has already read the book. In that case, you could omit this first part altogether. So read the assignment carefully, and check with your teacher to make sure you know what he or she is expecting.