I have a mental list of elements for which I look when reading a book for review. They are:
1. Hook – Does the story grab you from the beginning
2. Setting/Descriptions/Sense of Place – Is it evocative
3. Characters/Character Development – Do they come to life, do you know their back story, are they fully-developed
4. Dialogue – Does it work and provide a sense the character
5. Plot – Does it work, does it make sense
6. Devices – Well-done effective twists, coincidences that are acknowledged.
7. Cadence/flow/style – Does it keep you involved
8. Originality – This is an extra points element for when I find a story that is truly original
9. Overall quality of writing – What is my immediate reaction upon finishing the book.
The things which may cause me to lower my review are:
1. Unnecessary or spoiler prologue
2. Portents and end-of-chapter cliff-hangers
3. Too many characters, and too many with similar names or initials
4. Too many POVs - more than two starts to annoy me, but I prefer none
My favorites are stories that begin on page one and take you, force you to read, straight through to the end.
And there you have it.