The story and how it is revealed
- Is it a good story? Engaging? Interesting?
- How does the action progress?
- Is there conflict? Suspense?
- Is it believable? (For genre fiction, within the world created?)
- How do events build to a climax? How do they resolve?
- Overall, how well-constructed is the story?
The time and place in which the story is set, including details and atmosphere.
- Is the setting an important part of the story or simply background?
- Is it clear in what time and place the story takes place?
- How does the author reveal the setting?
- For fantasy and science fiction in particular, is the worldbuilding sufficient?
How characters are portrayed over the course of a novel.
- How does the author reveal details about the characters? Through narration? Through dialogue? Through action?
- Are character traits “told” or “shown”?
- Are the characters believable?
- Are they well-developed and “fleshed out”? What about secondary characters?
- Are there stereotypes employed?
- How to the characters change over the course of the novel?
The underlying messages or meanings behind the story.
- Is there a theme or themes? How is it communicated?
- Is it heavy-handed or didactic? Does the author avoid moralizing?
- Is it a theme worth exploring and appropriate for the intended audience?
- Are there layers of meaning and various themes to be explored?
- How the author uses language and literary elements.
- Is the writing straightforward or figurative? Accessible? Literary?
- Does the writing style match, complement, or enhance the subject matter?
- What narration style is used? First person, omniscient third, alternating perspectives, etc.?
- Is the dialogue natural to the characters, their age and experiences?
- How is mood and tone conveyed through language?
- What types of readers will most appreciate this book?
- Are there readalikes for this book?
- Are there any “red flags”?