Writing Mini-Lessons: Critical Review Genre

Critical reviews are part of the fabric of our twenty-first century experience. Reviews are used as a means of judging the quality of goods and services, including entertainment media such as movies, music, video games, and books. Some of you may even have written a product review to share your appraisal of an item. Many of us rely on reviews as a means of evaluating the quality of some product and how well-suited it is to our needs and desires.

As a writing genre, the foundation of a review is opinion/argument bound in evidence, but it is also the reviewer’s responsibility to assess a work from multiple perspectives, communicating the strengths and weaknesses to the reader. The reviewer helps the reader think critically about what is being reviewed, thereby enabling the reader to make informed decisions about how to spend his/her time and money.

“Like any writer, a critic (reviewer) should be able to weave an enticing narrative. Like any journalist, he/she must be willing to do extensive background work. But above all else, the critic is someone that readers must trust” (Bobby McMillin, The Dawgy Bag).

A book review is a specific type of critical review. It is your job as a book reviewer to describe, analyze, and evaluate informational or fictional text, paying particular attention to the work’s overall purpose, structure, style, and efficacy. If you are reviewing a work of fiction, you will include information about the elements of story, as well as the author’s craft, or the way in which the author used language and created his/her own style. If you are reviewing informational text, you will include information about the author’s key points, the validity of the claims, and the sources the author has cited to provide evidence for a particular argument. Additionally, your writing should be filled with beautiful language, be engaging, and incorporate everything you’ve learned about writing thus far.