Writing a literature review can be a complex and challenging task because it involves demonstrating a firm understanding of a work of literature and making judgments about that literary work. The reviewer owes the writer of the work to be reviewed a great deal of serious attention before making any sweeping judgments, as most major literary works can take years to complete. The most important part of writing an effective literature review, then, is to closely and carefully read the work in question. The next important factor is striving for objectivity to as great an extent as possible. One further important part is remembering that the review is a written work as well and must be well written and well organized to be effective.
Close reading is an essential part of writing a good literature review, as it is seldom possible to fairly judge the merits and shortcomings of a literary work based on a cursory overview of the work in question. A single quick reading may be sufficient for the reviewer to get a sense of the plot and the basics of the writer's style. A more focused reading, perhaps even a re-reading, however, is generally necessary if the reader wishes to notice and write about more advanced literary devices, allusions, structural features, or persistent symbols that may appear within a literary work. Writing a literature review without a particularly close reading does an injustice to the writer of the reviewed work and to those looking for complete and useful information from the review.
Objectivity is another important part of writing a useful and fair literature review. If the reviewer has a personal bias against a writer, he may not be able to write a completely fair review. A reviewer must take great care to ensure that the literature review is written based only on the merits and shortcomings of the work and is not influenced by any personal prejudices or biases.
It is important to recall that a literature review is, in itself, a written work with merits and shortcomings of its own. The reviewer is responsible not only for giving a fair assessment of the work in question, but also for presenting the assessment in a clear and useful manner. In general, this means using correct grammar and organizing the literature review in a logical fashion. Above and beyond this, however, the reviewer should also strive to make the review interesting, engaging, and entertaining for his readers.