Critical but Fair: A Book Review

book criticThe world of books is boundless: some volumes leave you indifferent, some make you yawn from the very first page, while some inspire and change your attitude to life adding to its quality. Tastes differ, but your choice of a book can be frequently influenced with what other people think about the book you want to take for reading. Moreover, you can have a look at the professional review made by a book critic to get a perspective on the text and sort out whether it will be to your liking. Likewise, having read some book you can have an irresistible desire to voice your opinion in a review to share it with other potential readers.

What Is a Critical Book Review?

A critical book review is a brief evaluation of the text that makes an argument and gives not a summary but comments on the book’s organization, ideas and judgments supported with the evidence from the text. It can be even a discussion, disagreement or agreement with the author, identification of your personal opinion regarding the reaction of the audience. Please note that both criticism and praise are to be voiced tactfully; this skill is challenging but valuable for every review writer.

Key Requirements to Book Review Writing

The reviewer is supposed to take into consideration two main things:

  1. To be aware of all the details regarding the book under review. It is essential to know a lot about the background of the author, understand the purpose of writing and see how the constituent parts of the book facilitate achieving that purpose.
  2. To be aware of the corresponding genre requirements. It is crucial to know what art form it is and how it works to base the evaluation of the reviewed book on the knowledge of literary and historical standards.

How to Become an Expert in Writing Book Reviews

Reviewing may at first seem to be an intimidating task, but as soon as you get to know the fundamentals of an efficient critical book review you get more confidence. So, while you are reading the book, mind the following steps:

  • read carefully;
  • focus on the passages which may serve as evidence from the text;
  • mind your impressions and try to figure out the strongest one.

Below you can find useful tips for those who want to excel in book review writing

1. Try to make the first several sentences of the review as interesting as possible; they should describe the main idea of the book and what it is about. It is important not to use any spoilers or detailed descriptions of the events in the book.

2. Focus on the feelings you had while reading and the thoughts the book provokes. It will be easier to do that in a critical book review if you answer the following questions:

  • Is there any particular character that you like? What makes that character your favorite?
  • Are there any intriguing parts in the book?
  • What are your favorite scenes? Why?
  • Are there any special mysterious or extremely tense scenes?
  • Did the book make you feel sad or joyful?
  • Can you say that the book provoked some special thoughts, gripped your attention or made you cry or laugh?

3. Figure out what you have not liked in the book and present those ideas as a book critic. It will be easier to do that in a critical book review if you answer the following questions:

  • Is the ending of the book disappointing? What have you expected?
  • If you did not have any feeling to certain characters, why did it happen?
  • Was the story too dragging, overloaded with details, boring or scary?