Saturday, April 14, 2012

Technical Review Format

I'm trying a new format for my future book reviews. I will rate the novel on several different elements to try and present my opinions of the book in a clear and concise format. This selection of elements is likely to change, but I will keep this post up to date with what I mean by my ratings.  There is a table at the end of this post with some clues as to what I consider the various ratings to mean.  Since I almost exclusively read and review speculative fiction, the world building is of particular importance to me.

Let me know what you think or if you have suggestions for changes.


This is the overall story line. Is the story engaging? Does it have a good rhythm and keep my interest and does it make sense within the boundaries of the author's world. I strongly prefer stories where the good guys win and the bad guys lose. That doesn't mean that the protagonists can't be slapped around a lot.

The originality of the world, characters and plot. Is it original or is it more of a derivative work. In my opinion derivative works can be good reads, but I do prefer originality. Doing original work is increasingly difficult with the explosion of new books we are seeing.

Writing Style
How engaging is the writing? Does it flow? Does the style of the story get out of the way and let you enjoy the story? I prefer a clear and clean writing style with more attention to actions and words than to descriptions.

How well the story has been proofread. Number of grammatical, spelling or typing errors I notice. I tend to not notice grammar much, so if this is less than a four, you can be sure its pretty atrocious.

How well fleshed out are the characters? Are they believable, interesting, and consistent. Do they provoke sympathy and antipathy? Are their actions believable?
This covers interactions between characters and other characters or characters and the world. Strong dialog, realistic interactions, well thought out consequences to the characters actions are important.

This is a rating of the texture, feel, or character of the author's world. I give credit for originality and consistency. I dislike plots which set out the rules and then require the characters to break them to succeed.

This is a measure of how much fun I had reading this book. This is not necessarily tied to any of the other metrics and could possibly be affected by the phases of the moon or the general state of my life.

Here is what I am currently considering each score to mean. In general 1 and 5 are rare and 3 is acceptable.

1 star
2 stars
3 stars
4 stars
5 stars
Couldn't choke it down
Not great, forced, unbelievable, dull
Average reasonable plot
Engaging plot, solid pacing, effective climaxes
Couldn't put it down.
Fan Fic
Mix of new and old. Reasonable
Several original concepts. Refreshing
Truly original work.
Gets in the way of the story but still readable
Reasonably transparent, maybe with a few glitches
Transparent style, solid sentence structure and rhythm
Outstanding style which actively contributes to the enjoyment of the story
hinders story. needs editing
A few mistakes scattered though the book. Not enough to cry about
A couple of mistakes in the entire novel.
Dull, boring, 1 dimensional
Some redeeming value but not compelling. 2 dimensional
Average characters. Not the driving point of the story.
Some good to excellent characters with medium to high complexity
Complex, compelling characters.
Unbelievable, dull, or stilted dialog
Tired interactions, unimaginative dialog. motivations not clear, inconsistent consequences for events
Reasonable dialog reasonably consistent. Some stretching of credulity.
Good solid interactions between characters . believable dialog that is germane to the story.
Great, witty, appropriate reparte. Clever use of world rules by characters.
Inconsistent and arbitrary.
Unbelievable world which detracts from story
World is average. It isn't particularly compelling or bad and doesn't affect the story much.
Interesting world, reasonable rules, consistent interactions.
Fascinating, well developed, believable worlds.
Bleh. Where's the lighter?
I can wade through it if necessary, but rather watch TV
Engaging enough to be worth the read.
Good solid fun. Definitely worth the time
Tickled pink by it. Would actually read it again.

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