Book Critique Writing

Many students have the wrong idea of what a Book Critique really is. It is neither a book report nor the précis of some work of literature like most people assume.

The purpose of writing a book critique is exactly in its name – to provide a critique of a book. In other words, you are expected to give a “critical” analysis of a piece of literature, not a summary as some people would expect.

Creating good book critiques can be overwhelming for a lot of students as it seems there are many aspects of writing to consider. But even at that, you must never make your reader feel as if you’re not familiar with the piece of literature being analyzed.

When developing a critique, there are basically two underlying issues you should address. These are how well the writer portrays the main idea and the kind of evidence he or she presents to support their claim.

Although this doesn’t exactly look like what many students would want to delve into, it becomes more approachable when you know what structure the answer is supposed to take.

This is where an outline comes in. In fact, all you ever need to start off a good critique is a good outline of the paper. Once you know this, things become a whole lot easier as you just easily tell which direction the critique is meant to go as well as the main ideas to focus on.

The structure of a critique

The critiques of written documents are usually written in a definite format. This consists of an introductory note which gives general information about the work you are analyzing, a body which contains more important information and a conclusion that includes the writer’s recommendation.

Let’s analyze each one of these segments.


The purpose of the introduction is pretty obvious. As earlier indicated this section is supposed to give readers general information about the document in question. These may include its title, name of the author, and the theme of the work which contains the central idea for the text.

This part may also contain details of publication which could help readers locate the book easily. A perfect example is the publication year.

In writing your introduction, it’s advisable to present your personal review of the entire work or novel so that readers will have an idea of what to expect from your critique. You don’t need to go deep here; just give an overall impression. More details about this should come in the body section.


More detailed information on a book critique can be found in the body section. While this part can be flexible, it is best to speak with your professor so you can write to meet his expectations.

Generally, book critique bodies are made up of two parts – summary and evaluation.

1. Summary

A summary is an important component of every book critique. It is not the purpose for the critique like most people wrongly assume. Rather it’s meant to be a common strategy to achieve that.

The summary is meant to show an overview of the book content. By reading your summary, readers should get a clear image of what the literature is all about, and also your ideas. This is necessary especially for people who haven’t seen the original book before.

The summary should contain enough information on the central elements of the book, such as the plot, themes, and structure. You don’t need to give a summary of each chapter in the novel. Rather, just focus on the plot.

2. Evaluation

A step that follows is an evaluation which is actually where you do the most work. It is probably the most valuable stage of the critique, so you need pay more attention here.

Many individuals may have come across the work you are writing a critique on, it is through your evaluation they would know if you really read and understood the book or not. This is because here you convincingly show how well you understand the author’s motive for writing the book and then give your view on how well he was able to articulate his points.

Here’s a checklist of what you’re expected to do:

  •  Discuss the plot and how it flows. Are there inconsistencies or do they appear logically? Do you consider the book on course in the way events were developed?
  •  Don’t forget to highlight the actors or participants and the respective roles they play. Do you think they should be used? Do you think their behavior is appropriate or unnatural? What relationship do they share and how well are they connected? Mention the good or bad sides.
  •  You should also discuss the text language. What kind of units were used in the specific setting and how appropriate were they? Is it possible to not have used them in expressing the writer’s intent or could they have been omitted without affecting the meaning of the text?
  •  Next thing you want to do is bring the main idea into focus. You should discuss how well the writer was able to articulate it. Was the idea amply expressed? Or were there some doubts? If you found the text rather confusing or ambiguous, please state it.
  •  You can also show how unique the work is. Indicate if you find the writer’s story original and captivating? Or do you perceive you already know about the plot and characters?
  •  If you find the book relevant to the society, then don’t fail to mention this. Readers should know beforehand what they can gain by reading the book. Sometimes the book may contain some useful information, such as that relating to the history of a place. It may also contain information about demographics and so on.
  •  Give your honest opinion concerning the literature, which in most cases would be subjective. This is probably what most readers will look out for in your critique. You are meant to give your opinion without sounding bias. Indicate what you find out and be subjective when doing it. As it is your opinion, it shouldn’t really matter what anyone thinks about it. Discuss what you enjoyed about the book and give your reasons; also talk about the disadvantages and loopholes. In the end, some people will see reasons with you and some will not.


At this point, you are expected to either recommend the book to your audience or do otherwise. Here, you should state and discuss the pros/cons and what your readers may possibly benefit from reading the book. You could also mention some changes you would have loved to be made to improve the text.

It is at this point that your readers will likely decide if they will read the book or not. Thus, it’s important you don’t discourage readers from reading a nice piece of literature that could have benefited them just because your critique wasn’t well articulated.

By now you should have an idea of what it takes to put together a good critique. In case you still have doubts or just need professional help, you can always contact us for writing assistance.

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