WRITING A CRITICAL REVIEW
Writing a critical review – of a book, article, or some other piece of writing – requires that you adopt an evaluative stance toward the piece. In a review you determine not simply what subject the piece addresses and how it does so, but how well the author achieves his or her purpose. You comment on the effectiveness of the author’s approach to the subject.
In order to write about the strengths and weaknesses of a book or article, it’s important to describe the basic features of the piece in a summary. Your summary will usually be brief – significantly shorter than your analysis – and it will often follow the introduction. In this overview, you’ll provide a sense of the work’s purpose: is the author writing to inform the reader about the subject or to persuade him or her to agree with a particular position? What is the work’s thesis or central point? What key areas of interest or importance does it cover? What supporting arguments does it make? In what context was it written?
After your summary, you’ll present your critical analysis of the book or article. In order to assess the piece, you’ll need to be clear about your criteria for evaluation. Two common broad categories are points of agreement/disagreement and strengths/weaknesses. You may choose one or the other approach or use a combination of the two.
Organizing the Review