Writing a critical review helps to understand the reviewed work and evaluate its effectiveness. This type of writing requires attention, analytical thinking, and some background knowledge about the topic of the work. It is usually used to analyze such sources as books, articles, and essays, but less commonly reviewed works like paintings and films may also be considered. While writing a critical review, you can study different aspects of the work, such as the author’s point of view, the main aim, or target audience, but your initial task is to assess the overall importance and effectiveness. The following steps should help you to write an organized and interesting review.
Examine and Summarize
Explore the work, determine its overall idea and several main points. Carefully read it one time while paying attention to topic sentences, then reread it and take notes about everything that seems important. However, do not simply rewrite the text in your own words but be as concise as possible, so that in the end you will have several brief sentences. These sentences should contain the author’s thesis, main ideas, and your impression of the work. If you happen to stumble upon unfamiliar information which is crucial to your understanding, you should additionally research it in other sources. This is not to imply that you have to analyze extra material as well ― simply look up unknown words and terms, and include them in your notes.
Use your notes to evaluate the work. You are free to focus on whatever aspects you found interesting, whether it is the use of rhetorical appeals, references to other sources, structure, the author’s ability to convince the audience, and so on. However, it would be better to choose a few notable areas and analyze them step by step in order not to make your analysis too complicated. If you try to evaluate everything at once, you are likely to lose the sight of your main goal, so try to avoid this mistake. Point out both negative and positive aspects, but remain impersonal and objective while doing so. Remember, writing a critical review is not about your personal opinion but about the work.
Organize and Write
When you are ready to write a review, start with the introduction of the work. Overview such information as the title, the author’s name, topic, type, and genre. It would also be useful to include the contextual background in which the work was created, but it is not necessary if the context is not related to the content. Do not forget to mention the author’s central idea, and then finish the introduction with your own thesis. In the main part of the review, briefly summarize the work before starting your own critique. Your analysis should be based on your notes, and it has to constitute the majority of the review. Each paragraph has to develop one main idea with examples from the work. In the conclusion, write your overall opinion, determine the value of the work, and decide whether the author was successful in his or her main aim. After completing this step, you should have a well-organized and appealing critical review.