With every book, there are certain features that make it an interesting read. Sometimes, when reading, one or two wonderful features can overshadow all of the other semi-mediocre features that the book has to offer. In my opinion, I usually find five or so specific “themes”, if you will, that contribute to my overall rating of the book.
- Relatable/Real Characters
For many, characters seem to be the most important factor that contributes to a novel’s overall intrigue. A common theme within Young Adult novels is the, “strong," female archetype, yet that’s all they are. Sure these new, “strong,” female characters can punch people and fight, but they aren’t complex. Humans are complex creatures and we enjoy reading about characters that are also complex; characters that are opinionated, or shy, or headstrong, or weak, and everything in between. Characters with many different sides to them are the most interesting to read about because they aren’t perfect, and that’s what makes them easier to relate to.
2. Good Writing
An author’s writing style is a lot like their own personal signature. It varies from person to person. Often times I’ve read a novel where the characters weren’t too interesting but the writing style was so well written and put together that it kept me from giving up on the book all together. I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing poetry, so that could contribute to why writing style is the most important factor while reading a book for me. Some people enjoy more descriptive writing (detailed descriptions, fanciful metaphors, etc.) while others prefer more to the point writing (focuses on characters’ actions with basic descriptions of characters and places/scenes). Writing style varies from author to author, and the enjoyment of writing style varies from reader to reader.
3. Intriguing Plot
Predictable plots can be the death to any novel. Plot twists and turns add a certain air of mystery pertaining to what’s going on and or how it’s all going to end. No one wants to read a book where they see how the whole story is going to play out by the second page. Similarly, interesting and unique plot lines are majorly important (though different plots interest different people). There are many novels with unique/new and exciting plots that can peak the interest of multiple readers.
4. Humor to Soften the Tension
With all novels, the amount of angst from the characters can be a bit overwhelming at times, and what better way to soften the angst and tension, then with humor. All too often, I come across a book/series that is filled with angst, tension, and seriousness without anymore than a snarky one-liner. Adding humor to a novel (even if it’s just a few sarcastic remarks or jokes) can help loosen the tension and create a lighter atmosphere. Besides, everyone can learn to appreciate some light humor.
A very important part of a character’s development, is their relationships with other characters (not just romantic). A good novel has intricate friendships and romantic relationships that add to a character’s likableness and complex personality. Well written relationships can touch the hearts of many readers and make the novel a bit more enjoyable for everyone. Reading about the strong friendships between a group of intricate, complex characters work together makes the storyline all the more well written. Similarly, well written, strong relationships are touching and can also soften the mood of the novel. Sometimes, relationships have the ability to further a character’s development within the novel.
Of course there are many more features that make a good novel, and the important features vary from reader to reader, author to author. All in all, reading is a way for people to escape from their everyday, mundane life. Having an intriguing plot, complex characters, well-written relationships, good writing, and humor add to the overall success of a novel, in my professional booknerd opinion.