Welcome, Welcome, to another edition of Top Five Tuesday, brought to us by our lovely host Bionic Book Worm! This week, we’ve been asked to contemplate: what elements of a book make it a five star read for you?
Characters. Characters Characters Characters. When an author writes a work of fiction, they’re asking me to hang out with people for several if not dozens of hours. At a minimum, I need one person to latch onto, someone memorable. They can be charismatic, they can be flawed, noble or violent, but they have to make me care. And of course, if you can make me care about a whole messy ensemble, I will be extra especially in love! If I don’t care about the people, it doesn’t matter how cool the rest of your story is, it’s just not going to be a five-star read for me.
Since I read primarily sci-fi/fantasy, this is another huge component to books I love. Once you have great characters, you need to have a fantastic, well-thought out place for them to live in. Sometimes this means building an entire world from scratch, and that means thinking about language and customs and religion and so much more. My favorite authors make this process seem effortless, like this world actually exists and you’re just walking into it. Sometimes the books I read take place in “our world,” but the author is finding ways to explain a parallel society that exists in secret. That means thinking of how your characters hide in plain site, how they cover up incidents, figuring out how your supernatural entities go about their daily lives in a world full of “normal” people. Whether it’s a new world or manipulating an existing one, these kinds of details show a level of dedication from the author that really pays off.
A Fantastic Finale
A spectacular ending can make up for early missteps in a book, primarily because the ending is the last impression the book makes. The right finale leaves me on an emotional high where I just put the book down and stare into the distance. It makes me go, “Wow, that just happened” or “They actually went through with it.” Bonus points if you’ve made me tear through 100+ pages in one sitting because I DESPERATELY needed to know what happened next.
Checks the Right Boxes
This one is more ephemeral and is going to obviously vary from person to person. We all have those book fetishes that make our hearts go pitter-patter, the kinds of characters or tropes we will die for. For instance, tell me a story is about a found family, be it a space ship crew or a ring of thieves, and you will find me holding my hand out for the book. Sometimes it’s just the right blend of feelings a book conveys, that makes you snuggle up on the sofa and refuse to let the book go. Such was the case of last year’s SORCERY OF THORNS, where the ambiance of magic, adventure, and romance, coupled with two bickering leads who OF COURSE are going to eventually fall in love with each over, hit me like a bolt through the heart, making it my favorite five star read of 2019.
This isn’t ESSENTIAL to a book getting a five-star rating, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Having cover art that you love to stare at, while remembering all the feels a book gave you, does a lot to cement that book in my favorites list. I know the covers of my favorite books and seeing them is like greeting old friends. It’s the cherry on top of an excellent sundae, a last little piece that literally puts everything else together into a beautiful package.
And those are the things that make me fall in love with a book! What makes a book a five star read for you?