So, you received a new college assignment and your task is to create a book critique. Sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? If it doesn’t look too interesting to you yet, then, perhaps, you are still a little confused and simply don’t have a clear vision of what exactly you need to write about.
A critique, or a book review, is a written form of critical analysis of a fiction or non-fiction piece of literature, which means you need to discuss how well the writer raises the main question and how effectively he or she supports the answer with appropriate evidence. If we are talking about a critique of a non-fiction piece of literature, then we’ll have to focus on its structure, logic, and factual support. If we are to analyze a fiction novel, we will pay closer attention to characters’ developments and flow of events.
Critique writing might be intimidating, but in fact students just need to create an outline of their paper which will vividly demonstrate the structure of the answer. Once this is done, the rest is easier since students understand in which direction to move and what to pay attention to.
What Should You Do Before You Start Writing?
Obviously, the very first thing you must do is to read the assigned novel. That’s right: a short summary found on the internet will do you no good since it is crucial not only to know the plot of the novel but also analyze how the author treats the topic under discussion and what kind of language means he or she is employing to reach the desired effect. Thus, our point #1 is:
Read the Entire Novel
Next, any critical evaluation will require a writer to present a short summary of the novel. If it is problematic to write a summary of a rather large book after finishing it, students might be willing to take a chapter-by-chapter approach and write down little summaries for each chapter or bigger section. To start with, this approach will let readers refresh some important details in their memories that can be important for the analysis. Secondly, it is easier to summarize smaller portions of text rather than a book in its entirety.
Never forget that it is the minute details that can help you analyze the writing and prove your position. This is why whenever your eye captures something interesting or controversial, you should write it down. It is crucial because in a couple of days this tiny detail can be forgotten, and you don’t want this to happen because sometimes we build entire theories on something that initially seems insignificant.
Always remember that when you are to criticize someone’s work, you ought to be sure that you can provide substantial arguments to make your own work valid. So, if uncertain whether the message of the book is clear, don’t hesitate to read other articles dedicated to this piece: this will let you look at it from many different angles.
How Do You Structure Your Critical Analysis?
After you have taken these initial steps and finished the book, created an outline, taken useful notes, and familiarized yourself with other authors’ thoughts on this novel, you are ready to start writing your own critique.
This piece of writing, just like an essay or term paper, has a traditional, easily recognizable structure: introduction, body, and conclusion. Certainly, each section contains certain expected information.
This part of your analysis presents general information about the novel you are evaluating. Mention the novel’s title, the writer’s name, and the thesis that the writer introduces and around which he or she build the entire discussion. If the format of your assignment allows you to do so, you could also include publication details such that this book could be more easily located by readers.
In the introductory part, it is a good idea to include your own impression of the book. Don’t go into detail, leave this for the body section. However, readers need to see what to expect from your analysis.
Since the structure of the body itself can be rather flexible, your best option is to contact your professor and follow his or her instructions. This way you will have a vision of what you are expected to do.
Remember we talked about summarizing chapters before starting to write the critique? This is where these pre-written notes will save students a lot of time because it is in the body where readers can find information about the plot of the book. Keep in mind that the summary should be brief; it just needs to quickly cover the main events of the novel.
Once the summary is finished, students need to give their criticism of the book. There are many questions one could raise and answer in order to effectively evaluate a work. For example:
- How did the author present his thesis and how well did he support it with reliable arguments?
- What was the writer’s goal and did he achieve it? If not, was it done on purpose or he failed to unite different parts of the book? If so, how skillfully was the goal achieved?
- Does this work relate to other works in the field? Does it contribute to the development of the field? How valuable is it?
In case you are working with a fiction novel, you can accentuate other aspects, for instance:
- How realistic and developed are the characters? Do they look natural in the world described in the novel? What are their motives and how logical are these motives?
- What do you think about the novel’s language? What is the target audience of the novel and are the language and the topic itself appropriate for this audience?
- Do you think writing this book was necessary? Does it bring any value to the world of literature or it is derivative and does not make any difference?
In conclusion, your goal is to pro/con the book and discuss its pro’s, or how readers can benefit from it, as well as con’s, or what changes you would have implemented to improve the book. After they have finished the conclusion, readers should already decide whether they want to read this book or not. Therefore, it is crucial that you don’t prevent them from reading a really nice literary piece just because you didn’t manage to present its good and bad qualities.
We hope this discussion will give you an idea of what a book critique is and it will be easier for you to organize your writing process. We are always here to help you with all your academic questions. You can contact us right away if you require some writing assistance.