Literary criticism, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary of English, is "the art or practice of judging and commenting on the qualities and character of literary works."
"Criticism" doesn't necessarily mean to criticize or find what is wrong with a work. Literary criticism helps to explain or interpret a novel, a poem, a play, a story -- any work of literature,
A book review is a form of literary criticism. This can be a simple description (like an amazon purchase review), a personal opinion review (like a Goodreads entry), or an in-depth analysis (based on content, style, and merit).
Academic book reviews are thorough descriptions with a critical analysis and evaluation of the book's significance in relation to other works on the topic.
For college, if the assignment includes writing a book review, be sure to academically address the subject matter instead of just providing a 5-star rating. Discuss the author, the material's strengths and weaknesses, and assess content for relevance, effectiveness, and value.
Assigned book reviews offer thoughtful practice in carefully analyzing complex scholarly texts and assesses your ability to effectively synthesize research.