A Critical Book Review is a thoughtful discussion of a texts contents, strengths, and limitations. A critical book review should reflect your capacity to read critically and to evaluate an authors arguments and evidence. Compose your reviewof No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Courtas you would any essay, with an argument supported by evidence, and a clear, logical structure.
1. Read the book carefully, taking notes on material that you think may be relevant or quotable and on your impressions of the author’s ideas and arguments.
2. Determine the authors principal argument, the chief themes of the text, the kinds of evidence used, and the way in which the author uses them.
ORGANIZING THE REVIEW
1. In no more than two paragraphs, introduce the book. Give your initial appraisal of the work, including your key observation on the text. This key observation will be your thesis. Try not to begin with a flat statement such as This book is interesting. Begin with an anecdote, a challenging quotation, or a key observation.
2. (this is the bulk of your paper) Follow with descriptive analysis and evaluation of the text. You may either treat these topics separately, first (and probably easiest way to organize) describing the books contents, the author’s argument, presentation, and evidence, and then offering your own evaluation, or you may weave the two together (this way is more difficultyou must be an above average writer to weave). In either case:
a) clearly set out the authors purpose in writing the book, and whether or not you think the author has succeeded.
b) describe the authors arguments and the themes of the book, and give your appraisal of their validity and effectiveness.
c) describe the sources and evidence the author uses to prove his case, and evaluate their appropriateness and sufficiency. What are the author’s sources? Should the author have used more, or different, sources?
d) Comment on the author’s organization and writing style.
3. Conclude. Here you may make more general remarks about the text and the ideas presented in it. If you have not already done so, indicate whether you feel the book is worthwhile, and for what audience. Is the book outstanding? Will it make a lasting contribution to its field, or is it less satisfactory?
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER THROUGHOUT YOUR PAPER
Although you should not use the following questions as some sort of laundry list of things to include, you may wish to consider them as you prepare and write your review.
Analysis of Content
What is the authors principal argument? What are her/his conclusions?
What does the author choose to emphasize?