When a writer gets an assignment to create a book critique, he or she immediately gets several important questions. The writer needs to know when the critique is due and how long it should be. The writer also needs to know if there is a specific format the critique should be written in. Although in this post we are talking about school book critiques, nothing changes. Students need to ask exactly the same questions to know what professors expect from them.
The format of school book critics is usually as follows: the text should be double-spaced, printed on one side of the sheet of paper. Students should use either Chicago or Turabian style and use active voice and no first-person pronouns (unless they are expressing their own opinion).
It is important to now the due date to create a working schedule. Writing a book critique requires a lot of time. You need to be extremely detail-oriented, and for that, you will have to re-read the book/paper/article once more. You will need to make notes and create an outline of the book to divide the text into the major parts which contain the book’s major themes. The preparatory part is as important as the writing itself. Although there is no template of a good critique and all samples you can find will differ from each other, there are a lot of elements you should include in your writing.
Important Preparatory Steps
Before you begin to write a book critique, answer the following very important questions:
Who is the target audience of the book?
As soon as you have this question in your mind, a lot of things become clear. For example, you need to review a textbook for beginners in psychology. Do you expect this textbook to have complex terminology which is not explained and references to authors that beginners have never heard of? Certainly, this is not what a good textbook should be.
The exact same situation can happen to any book, research paper, or novel. Identify the target audience and see whether the work under analysis meets readers’ expectations.
How realistic and objective is the book?
Depending on the genre of the book you are analyzing, you will want to search for the elements which justify the author’s plot development (in novels), main thesis (scientific papers), etc.
For example, you have a research paper in which the author tries to prove a new linguistic theory. How clear is the evidence? Has the author held any experiments that gave interesting, valuable data? How reliable are sources of information? Does the author use outdated materials? Are the book and articles he or she is using peer-reviewed and published in academic journals? Your task is to do research and dig deeper to give us, readers, an answer: does this paper serve its initial purpose and can we trust the author’s findings?
In case you are working on a fictional novel, you should decide whether the characters fit into the frame of the book and whether their psychology looks natural. How do they communicate? How good and natural are the dialogues? Did the author manage to represent real life conversations or they seem fake? All the elements of the narration matter when it comes to critiquing a novel.
How well is the book structured?
Even books with the most complicated plots can be clear for the audience. Look at numerous detective stories: they are written in a manner which will confuse you and make you believe that the killer is victim’s lover and not the sister of the main character. Yet, all of us manage to follow how events in the story are developing. Talented authors manage to include lots of flashbacks and flash-forwards, and still the book remains clear.
What about your book? How are the arguments laid out? Do you have any problems with the book’s structure or everything is nice and smooth? Think about that.
Gather the information about your book’s publication
Make sure you include who is the author of the novel or paper, when this novel was published, who the publisher is, how many pages this book contains, where it was published, etc. Your audience must be able to find this book, if necessary. Besides, if your critique ever is published, the publisher might want to refer it to a certain category of books, e.g. books by author, publication location, year,etc. The details you are providing can be really helpful.
Another important thing we would like to talk about is your English language. You must understand that your spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and vocabulary do make a difference. A lot of students think that these are just unnecessary rules which restrict their writing. In fact, the rules of the English language help students make their writing more comprehensible. Commas and colons help readers separate the parts of sentences which contain different thoughts. A long, bulky phrase can be replaced by a simple, elegant term. If you misspell the word ‘fiancée’ and write ‘fiancé’, this will completely change the meaning of your text.
When your critique is ready, don’t forget to review and proofread it. We hope this article was helpful!