My rating will be out of five so as to be consistent with Goodreads. There are certain things I look for when I rate a book, and I will give each category a rating, and then take the average for my overall rating.
Writing style: Is the writing easy and readable or awkward and confusing? Is it original and meaningful or contrived and redundant? Does it have a distinctive, engaging tone and voice or is it flat and/or clichéd.
Pacing: I tend to like short chapters so I can find more time to read a few pages throughout the day. I like to finish a chapter in one sitting. However, I have also enjoyed books without any chapters. Is the chapter length appropriate? Is there enough tension to keep me turning the page? Is it suspenseful; are there secrets, scares, and surprises? What is the objective of the plot and do the characters have a stake in the outcome? Do the characters have conflict and setbacks with reflection in between?
Plot: How strong is the opening? How many pages until I am invested in the outcome? I have to be honest, if it takes more than 50 pages, I likely won’t finish the book. Are the stakes for the characters authentic or fabricated, and do I care if they succeed? Do the actions of the characters make sense based on their development? Is there too much backstory, or does it balance the main plot? Is there a satisfying conclusion? Are there any unresolved issues?
Setting: Do I feel immersed in time and place, and does it enhance the story? Is the description meaningful and vivid?
Character: What is the point of view and does it suit the story? Are the characters distinctive and well-developed or lacking in depth? Are their motivations manufactured or believable? Is the dialogue effective? Does it serve a purpose in developing the characters or is it used to dump story information on the reader?
Bonus category: What are my personal connections to the story? Does this add or detract from my enjoyment of the book?