Review Essays

A review can be formal or informal depending on the assignment of the instructor. The purpose of a review is to evaluate or express one’s feelings about something. It is a person’s evaluation of what he/she is reviewing. A review usually makes an argument about what they are reviewing. The opinions of the writer must show evidence as to his/her opinions about the work. The formality of the review is decided by whether it is an analysis, summary, or a person’s reaction. A formal review shows merits and context about the review. Usually the instructor wants to know how you feel about a movie, a concert, a book, a piece of art, or a particular work. Two steps are needed in a review. First, the reviewer must develop an argument about what they are reviewing. Second, the reviewer must write an organized review. It should clearly state the opinion of the reviewer about the work and why the reviewer feels the way he/she does.

A Review Essay is a type of writing in which the main objective is to present and overview of the most important points of some literary work. It is not the same as book report or novel critiques which just summarizes the work and gives writer's opinion on it. A review essay tries to engage in a critical discussion of the examined literary work.

There is a standard form for a scholarly review essay and the writer should keep in mind several issues:

1. It is very important to choose a literary work that is suitable for writing a review, as some books are more suitable than others. Better not to choose an edited collection, as they can be very tricky, presenting various viewpoints or may address different aspects of the same issue and the review of it can get a choppy character. It would be better to select a sole-authored literature work. If to make a review of an old book, there is a need to write about its significance. So, reviewing new books may be easier.

2. Review essays have basic structure: introduction, summary of the book, critical discussion, and conclusion. The writer should include full publication data of the book which will be placed between the title of the essay and the first line. All sections of the essay should be written clearly and should be divided with a line between them.

3. The introduction of the review paper presents the general line of argument. The writer should situate the literary work in the context in which it is created, present the author's key thesis and approach, and provide his personal critical response. Introduction usually takes not more than one page.

4. The summary of the book under review should not be very long. It should make approximately not more than 40-50% of the total work. The writer of the essay shouldn't retell all points the author gave, but focus on the most significant. The summary should be concise and clearly written.

5. Critical discussion is meant to evaluate the contribution of the reviewed text across disciplines. There should be mentioned how the book participates in debate in which the author has chosen to take part. The student needs to find out the controversies or problems that the author tries to address. Usually the author of reviewed book defines the context in the preface, introduction, or sometimes in the first chapter of the book. After that the critical analysis should be presented.

The review essay should follow standard formatting conventions. It should be set in 12-point front, be double-spaced, and with one-inch margins on all sides of the paper.

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