There are a million different ways to write a review. Here at Daily Mayo, I came up with my own review system that includes:
Quick review: Where I summarize my entire thoughts about the book into a sentence or two.
Extended review: Where I break down the book into plot, characters, setting, and writing style. I then discuss the strengths and problems within each section.
Final thoughts: Where I discuss the final thoughts about the book and identify who I think would like the book the most.
Obviously, you can review a book any way you like, but certain professors and teachers might want a more traditional approach to the critical book review, so if you need to review a book for any “professional” use, I hope you find this critical book review example helpful.
What is a Critical Book Review?
A critical book review is simply a discussion of the pros and cons of a book. It doesn’t have to be negative; although they often are. The critical book review should contain a short summary about the book and your assessment of the book as a whole.
Your critical book review outline should look something like this:
First paragraph: Summary of your total thoughts of the book as a whole- you can also include a short summary here.
Body paragraphs: However many paragraphs it takes you to discuss the theme, authors intent, the best parts of the book, the worst parts of the book, your opinion of the book, how clearly the author conveyed his or her intent, and any other relevant information you think a reader would want to know before deciding to read that book. This can be divided into individual sections or melded into a simple paragraph depending on how long you want your review to be.
Final paragraph: Summarize your thoughts about the book and share if the book is a must-read or a pass.
When writing your review, remember the sage advice of an unknown book review editor; “write your most critical review as though it would appear the day after the reviewed author’s death, without embarrassing you.” Adding in a little humor doesn’t hurt either.
How to Prepare for a Critical Book Review
To write an informed review, you must adjust your prospective as a reader from simply going along with the story to studying it with a critical eye. You can do this easily with a few simple steps:
Jot down opinions of plot development, themes, character flaws (or assets), writing style, and other information you want to put in your review as you read.
- Make careful note of writing style and any flaws in grammar or awkward passages.
- Pay attention to how much you feel attached to the universe. Do you want to keep reading, or could you take it or leave it?
- Write down any favorite quotes or anything that illustrates what you disliked about the book.
Having all this information on hand can help make the review process a lot easier.
My Favorite Book Reviews
The New York Times always gets book reviews right.
Book Riot has mastered the art of short and sweet reviews in their “buy, borrow, bypass” series.
Alison from Alison Can Read uses the long essay-style reviews and you always know where she stands on a book.
Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy created the “twiterature” series, where you write a book review in 140 characters or less. You don’t have to be long-winded to write a good book review!
Here’s an example of the Daily Mayo-style review.