Lately, I've been thinking quite a bit about what makes 5-star novels so distinguishable from the rest. Because of this, I decided I'd share my review process with all of you. There are times when my review of a book may be different from another reader. For example, maybe I've given a particular novel 3 stars but my peer has given it 4. Remember, it's perfectly okay to have a different opinion than your peers. Not everyone is going to enjoy every single novel, and that's what makes discussing books so fun! Let's look at what makes a great read for me!
Infrequently, I start a book that doesn't particularly catch my attention but is okay enough to complete. This read usually features messy character or plot development. I usually consider this type of writing to be 3 stars because although it isn't captivating or memorable, it's manageable.
Most of the books I read, the usual New York Times bestsellers, I give 4 stars. 4-star novels are usually great reads, but are somehow missing a significant element. Although the missing element is usually different in every 4-star book, most of the novels I've given 4 stars have had either insufficient endings or uninteresting characters.
For a book to receive the highest possible rating from me, it must feature four distinct elements: a hook, enticing characters (clear character development), a captivating plot, and a worthwhile ending.
Hook: The beginning of a book is extremely important. It sets the tone for the rest of the novel and gives a reader a sense of what kind of writing they're facing. The hook of a novel, whether the first sentence, paragraph, or chapter determines if the reader is going to be interested and eager to continue reading or indifferent to finishing the book.
Enticing Characters: The second element essential to a 5-star book is interesting characters. As a reader you want to be engaged with the people in a story, you want to be eager to find out what's going to happen to them whether you like them or not. In most 5-star reads, the characters are likable. Regardless, that's not the case in all top rated books. Because of this, it's essential that writers take their time in developing a handful of enticing characters as opposed to many mundane characters. There's no doubt that this element weighs heavily on a reader's final rating of a novel.
Captivating Plot: The third element, and one of the most important in a novel, is the storyline. If the plot of a book isn't alluring, why would any reader want to finish a book? A great storyline is key to any high rated book, and because creating one is not easy, books that do have one deserve the praise they receive.
Worthwhile Ending: The ending of a novel is the most important element because it's the most anticipated. I've read plenty of books that were amazing... right up until the end. (Did any book come to mind?)
As a reader, you don't want to sit through an amazing book and then feel disappointed. Because of this, writing a worthwhile ending is essential. Authors have a duty to their audience and to their own characters to write an ending that's as strong and satisfying as the beginning.
Read a 5-star book lately? Leave book suggestions down in the comments below!