KP Book Review: Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Doestoevsky

You don’t need to read that much into the book to learn what its plot is: it’s a story about a Russian axe-murderer who kills an old lady who runs a pawnshop seemingly for money and afterwards tries to hide what he did from the authorities.  It’s a shocking premise, and yet the depth and complexity of this book has made it a lasting member in the list of the classics, as well as being perhaps one of the greatest Christian novels of all time. c&ppinterest

Since the murder of the old woman happens within the first sixth of the book, the whole rest of the book is focused on the mind of the murderer, Raskolnikov, and this is where the full genius and depth of the book really comes in.  When Doestoevsky initially wrote this book, he told his publisher that he intended it to be the psychological account of a crime that was committed by a young man who “had submitted to strange ‘incomplete’ ideas which float on the wind,” and that certainly comes out.  Crime and Punishment explores the complexities of human psychology within the mind of a murderer like few other books do and portrays rather keenly how destructive a vice pride really is.

What is perhaps most interesting about the book from a literary perspective is its use of foil characters.  Foil characters are minor characters who are similar to the main character in many ways—but who also have major differences that end up having a lot of relevance in the overall scope of the book.  In Crime and Punishment, Doestoevsky uses a plethora of foil characters to show the readers different examples of who Raskolnikov could turn out to be depending on the choices he makes.  Is he going to become like one of his noble friends, or one of his less savory acquaintances?  The book makes for an interesting study of foil characters, so if you’re a fiction writer looking to make more use of them in your story, this is a good book to study. [Read more…]

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Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

Book Reviews Now Accepted!

The last page has been turned and the final sentence read. You have to tell someone about this amazing book; the whole world should know!

Today, Kingdom Pen is making that possible. KP isn’t global yet, but we are on the World Wide Web, which is close enough. Bookreviewspost

Book reviews can be difficult to write, but we’ve simplified the process just for you! One of our editors, the talented Josiah DeGraaf, has written up guidelines that doubles as a how-to for writing book reviews!

Once you’ve written up your stellar book review, simply put it in a Word document and email it to kingdompenmag@gmail.com with the subject line: “Book Review.”

We look forward to receiving your reviews!

KP Guide to Writing Book Reviews

Fiction Book Reviews

The goal of this guide is to give a general sense of direction for subscribers who want to write fiction book reviews to be published on Kingdom Pen. Book reviews should try to hit all of the different aspects included below, and preferably should follow the suggested format. But if you feel like the book review would work better with the elements below in a different sequence, reviews need not strictly follow the suggested sequence (although it is recommended).

Summary of the Book

Begin the review by describing what the book is about. A good way to do this would be to start with a one-to-two-sentence hook and then go on to explain what the book is about. Now, since this is a book review and not a book report, you don’t want to give away the whole plot of the book (don’t include any spoilers). Rather, you want to give a general idea of the book’s premise and what it’s about in order to entice people to read the book. One to two paragraphs would probably suffice for this section of the review.

If this book has won any awards or has been really popular, include this information at the end of the summary.

Review of the Book

Moving on to the actual review of the book, explain to the reader why this is a good book and why it is worth reading. For the book reviews that KP publishes, we prefer to only publish reviews of books that we’re actually recommending, so at this point in time, we’re not going to publish negative book reviews. However, if there are any weaknesses that you see in the book, please include a brief discussion of those weaknesses as well, since we do want to give a balanced review of the book. In listing the book’s strengths, try to include specific things in the book that you liked as well as general things, although of course you’ll want to avoid spoiling major plot developments in the book.

Since KP is focused on helping Christian writers to write well, a quick discussion of the book’s worldview, to whatever extent it’s present, would be appreciated. In addition to this, since KP is focused on helping Christian writers to write well, if there are specific aspects of the book that you think writers could learn from, please feel free to include some particular discussion of those aspects as well.

Content Advisory

If there are any parts of this book that you think might not be suitable for younger or less mature readers, please include that in this section of the review.

Nonfiction Book Reviews

The goal of this guide is to give a general sense of direction for subscribers who want to write nonfiction book reviews to be published on Kingdom Pen. Book reviews should try to hit all of the different aspects included below, and preferably should follow the suggested format. But if you feel like the book review would work better with the elements below in a different sequence, reviews need not strictly follow the suggested sequence (although it is recommended).

Summary of the Book

Begin the review by describing what the book is about.  A general explanation of the book’s thesis and the different points that the author makes would be good. You don’t need to be too specific because those sorts of descriptions are better sorted to the review portion. However, a general discussion of what the book is about would be good. One paragraph would probably suffice for this section of the review, but two paragraphs would be fine as well.

If this book has won any awards or has been really popular, include this information at the end of the summary.

Review of the Book

Moving on to the actual review of the book, explain to the reader why this is a good book and why it is worth reading. For the book reviews that KP publishes, we prefer to only publish reviews of books that we’re actually recommending, so at this point in time, we’re not going to publish negative book reviews. However, if there are any weaknesses that you see in the book, please include a brief discussion of those weaknesses as well, since we do want to give a balanced review of the book. In listing the book’s strengths, try to include specific parts of the book that you liked as well as general parts, and explain what specific lessons or applications you personally took from the book. When relevant, an explanation of the author’s specific arguments would be good, but try to avoid stating the author’s entire line of reasoning, since we do want the reader to read the book as well.

While nonfiction books don’t need to be explicitly focused on writing, since this is a website for writers, if this book is not explicitly on writing but you still see applications in the book for writers, please try to include that as well in the review.

Content Advisory

If there are any parts of this book that you think might not be suitable for younger or less mature readers, please include that in this section of the review.

-Josiah DeGraaf