The best result can be achieved if you read it several times. The first time (well, maybe, it was once in the past) - to create the first impression, to read the book as it is, as an average reader does. The second time, read it and make notes to organize your impressions. If you re-read for the third time, you might notice new details, get insights about the characters and themes or get fresh ideas of critique.
After that, write down the draft. Start with the summary, but try to make it sound as academic as possible. Indicate the genre of the given book and its place in World literature. Explain what are its Controlling Idea or main theme, and target audience. Describing the main characters of any book, be sure to also show their development and their relations, their differences. Is there a single protagonist, or there are multiple protagonists in the given novel, is there any antagonist, or the conflict is inner, or extra-personal? Explain how the plot advances, and if there are any subplots, tell, why they are there. Analyze the structure. Can you indicate three acts? Is the ending open or closed? You can analyze the maps or diagrams, or original pictures provided by the author. If you are assigned to critique non-fiction, say a business or scientific bestseller, there are no special guidelines; just provide the standard academic summary, describing the thesis, the main points, the structure.
Write about the author’s writing style. If the book was written in a foreign language and translated, note the name of the translator. You might be interested in reading more than one translation to discover peculiarities omitted by one of the translators. Is the vocabulary sophisticated or quite simple? By the way, this aspect is also important in non-fiction critique: are there lots of Latin terms or it is written in simple, publishing style? Does the author prefer abstract or concrete language? If you are analyzing a science fiction story, there may be made-up words and even languages, or interesting cases of imitation of robotic speech, etc. Does the writer have a strong narrator’s voice? Does he use first or third person? What special tropes does he use?
Then, proceed to the analysis itself. How to critique a book? Primary, the critique is a technique of critical evaluation of any literary work, be it fiction, philosophical, scientific, or political theory. You should give your constructive assessment of the author’s arguments or the story you’ve read, evaluate it within its sphere. Write about its strengths, where and why it caught your attention. Mention its weaknesses and be sure to explain their reasons. Talk about how the book can be useful to the society, how the ideas are reflecting the human nature, and whether they are relevant to the present situation in the world. You may mention if it won any awards and why do you think it happened. Try and read some professional literary critique for inspiration.
Revise your draft, add the Introduction and Summary paragraphs and type the final version. Writing a comparative book critique, usually, means comparing two or more books that have much in common. It can be a plot, subject area, or theme. In this case, as a rule, the summary is more compact, and you assess both books while analyzing their similarities and differences. Evaluate how each one contributes to the understanding of the topics common to both of them. Sometimes the task is to compare two novels of the series. For example, you can write the critique on Harry Potter book and show how the atmosphere, characters, and the topics differ from the previous story. The experience of writing literature critique is helpful when you have to write an annotated bibliography and literature review.
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