Write the introduction
Below are a few guidelines to help you write the introduction to your critical review.
Introduce your review appropriately
Begin your review with an introduction appropriate to your assignment.
If your assignment asks you to review only one book and not to use outside sources, your introduction will focus on identifying the author, the title, the main topic or issue presented in the book, and the author's purpose in writing the book.
If your assignment asks you to review the book as it relates to issues or themes discussed in the course, or to review two or more books on the same topic, your introduction must also encompass those expectations.
For example, before you can review two books on a topic, you must explain to your reader in your introduction how they are related to one another.
Within this shared context (or under this "umbrella") you can then review comparable aspects of both books, pointing out where the authors agree and differ.
In other words, the more complicated your assignment is, the more your introduction must accomplish.
Finally, the introduction to a book review is always the place for you to establish your position as the reviewer (your thesis about the author's thesis).
As you write, consider the following questions:
Is the book a memoir, a treatise, a collection of facts, an extended argument, etc.? Is the article a documentary, a write-up of primary research, a position paper, etc.?
Who is the author? What does the preface or foreword tell you about the author's purpose, background, and credentials? What is the author's approach to the topic (as a journalist? a historian? a researcher?)?
What is the main topic or problem addressed? How does the work relate to a discipline, to a profession, to a particular audience, or to other works on the topic?
What is your critical evaluation of the work (your thesis)? Why have you taken that position? What criteria are you basing your position on?
Provide an overview
In your introduction you will also want to provide an overview. An overview supplies your reader with certain general information not appropriate for including in the introduction but necessary to understanding the body of the review.
Generally, an overview describes your book's division into chapters, sections, or points of discussion. An overview may also include background information about the topic, about your stand, or about the criteria you will use for evaluation.
The overview and the introduction work together to provide a comprehensive beginning for (a "springboard" into) your review.
As you write, consider the following questions:
What are the author's basic premises? What issues are raised, or what themes emerge? What situation (i.e., racism on college campuses) provides a basis for the author's assertions?
How informed is my reader? What background information is relevant to the entire book and should be placed here rather than in a body paragraph?
If you need help writing an essay on a book, you have come to the right place. Known also as literary essays, this type of essay can be equated more or less to a modern day book report. Once you get your thoughts organized it can be a really easy task.
Here are the basic steps:
1. Select a book - This may already be done for you, if you are currently enrolled in either an English or literature class.
2. Determine the goal for the length - Keep in mind that an essay on a book would already have a predisposed assigned number of words. Let’s set the word count (for the sake of illustration) at 500 words. A 500-word essay is pretty comprehensive and would allow you enough words to describe the plot of the story while having time to disseminate what themes are present and what morals are being conveyed.
3. Decide on a format and style - You will probably be told to use either MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (Amercian Psychological Association) standard writing style.
So, if you were assigned a 500-word essay, using MLA format, then you would need to use a Times New Roman, 12-point font, with a one-inch (all around) page margin and double space throughout the essay.
4. Read the assigned book. Let’s say (once again for the sake of illustration) that you were assigned to read a book entitled "The Count of Monte Cristo." You would need to be familiar with the themes that are within the story behind "The Count of Monte Cristo."
Sample Help Writing an Essay on a Book
So you have your book, the formatting is complete and you know the word count for the essay. Half the battle is won regarding writing this essay. Basically, you would begin your essay introducing the book.
For example, you might begin your essay like so:
"The Count of Monte Cristo" is a action-adventure book written by the popular French author, Alexandre Dumas.
So your first sentence is pretty straightforward and tells what book you read and who the author is. The second, third, and fourth sentences give a bit of background on the storyline and then the fifth sentence concludes the first paragraph yet provides a smooth transition into the second paragraph. The last sentence may go something like this,
While the plight of revenge of Edmond Dantes was engaging, the idea of forgiveness was completely remiss throughout the text.
You may consider opening the second paragraph with a quote from the book or something that really stood out thematically to you as a reader. Here is another example of a leading sentence that you would start out your second paragraph with.
"Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes."
Possibly one of the most memorable quotes in the entire book, this quote gives a solid basis to move forward to the next thought. Spend the next sentences exploring the quote that set the tone for the second paragraph. Then, spend the next few paragraphs engaging your reader with your view on the book and what you have learned.
The good thing about writing an essay on the book is that you can present both sides of any argument that may pervade the storyline of the book. The sky is literally the limit on what information you can present.