I don’t grade on the curve. When it comes to grading, I’m definitely all angles.Here’s roughly how I evaluate the novels I read:
A-rated novels are superb entertainment, but they go far beyond entertainment. The novels’ characters, plots, and settings feel real. The writing is clean and efficient.
Books worth an A have universal themes that transcend time and culture. You can start reading a grade A book again the night after you finished reading it the first time and find even more value in it the second time. These books last.
Grade B novels are the backbone of older fiction and classic films. They usually are less demanding on readers than A-level novel, but light years away from formula fiction.
B-rated novels have some originality. Perhaps it’s in character development, plot, or setting. Sometimes the novelist has some intriguing insight into history or human nature. Or maybe it’s just that the author’s writing style rejuvenates a tired formula. It could even be that the writer just makes you chuckle.
A grade C book is your basic formula fiction, pot-boiler novel. The characters and plot are strictly off-the-shelf. These novels pass the time. Within their genre, one C book is pretty much like another. You may find yourself reading them a second time without remembering that you read them before.
A grade D novel is usually pot-boiler gone rancid. The author may have tried to juice-up a plot with gratuitous sex and violence or (equally bad) inspiration and spirituality. Either way, the book is a fraud.
A grade F is a “look, Ma, I’ve written a novel.”