SPFBO Scoring

I’ll be using the following criteria when rating each of the SPFBO books I’ve been assigned. I’ll include the score for each category (character, world, plot, etc.) at the end of each review along with the final score out of 100. I’ll convert that score to a 10-point scale for use in SPFBO.

Character (25 points)

Immersion (5 points)

5. Cast I enjoyed thoroughly, side characters felt real, engaging leads, fleshed out and real emotion/motivations

4. Very good but missing the “wow” factor, maybe the leads were great but the side characters fell flat

3. Only sort of like main characters, motivations were hard to understand/sympathize with, a bit cliché

2. Flat, stereotypical, little engagement

1. No investment, wouldn’t bother me if they all died at the end

Arc (7 points)

  • Start to Arc (2 points)

2. I’m invested in either a positive or negative way and understand clearly where the character is at in their life

1. No clear picture of where character begins their arc

  • Development of Arc (5 points)

5. tremendous growth done believably, supported an underlying theme, had me cheering

4. A good arc, missing the “wow”

3. Some growth but nothing that resonated or fundamentally affected the character

2. Little development or just didn’t make sense given the context, inconsistent

1. No change throughout book

Relationships (7 points)

  • Platonic (3 points)

3. Complex, believable, got me invested

2. Moderate engagement, some relationships were shallow or felt a little forced

1. Unbelievable or I just didn’t care

  • Romantic (4 points)

4. WOW that was well done

3. A real effort was made, I could get behind the relationship

2. Completely left out of a book

1. Handled poorly. Rapey, insta-love, doesn’t make sense, etc.

Characterization (6 points)

  • Internal / POV (3 points)

3. Each POV subtly affects description, background narration, vocabulary, etc. to complement character

2. Each POV feels distinct

1. Switching POV’s doesn’t feel that different

  • External / Non-POV (3 points)

3. Enhances the character, feel believable, tied into emotional state or backstory

2. Some minor quirks but they’re annoying and tacked on

1. Nothing that sets characters apart

Worldbuilding (20 Points)

Setting (4 Points)

4. Intricately detailed, immersive, fascinating to read about

3. Immersive and interesting

2. Didn’t stand out, but it was thought through and made sense

1. Confusing, inconsistent, or just bland

0. I’m not even sure where the book takes place

Culture / Society (4 Points)

4. Lots of cultures w/ distinct rituals or beliefs, enviornments, social norms and taboos. No blatant appropriation

3. Most, but not all aspects

2. Some aspects

1. Mostly absent

0. Basically nothing

Magic System (4 Points)

+1 I understood it enough to predict how it could solve problems (more info)

+1 There’s a system of checks and balances to limit the possible power (more info)

+1 The magic’s limitations play a major role

+1 The magic is explained in a logical, sequential manner (more info)

Race / Sexism / LGBTQ+ Handling (6 Points)

  • Race (2 Points)

2. Handled expertly and sensitively

1. An attempt was made to handle well, maybe some missteps

0. Blatant racism / tokenism

  • Sexism (2 Points)

2. Sexual violence is handled deftly or absent altogether

1. A bit male gazey but not bad

0. Female violence for the sake of “realism” or wish gratification

  • LGBTQ+ (2 Points)

2. A real effort was made

1. Absent completely

0. Present and handled badly

“Cool” Factor (2 Points)

2. Hot damn

1. Creative and interesting

0. Boring / been done a billion times without an original twist

Plot (15 Points)

Engagement (7 Points)

  • Interest (5 Points)

5. Amazing

4. Really great, only a few complaitns

3. I liked more than I disliked

2. I disliked more than I liked

1. Some redeeming aspects

0. Completely boring

  • Flow (2 Points)

2. Dat flow

1. A bit clunky, not awful

0. Immersion breaking, I can see the author’s heavy handedness, deus ex machina

Consistency (5 Points)

  • Thematic (3 Points)

3. Spot on, perfectly fits the book

2. Mostly fits with the book themes and expectations

1. A bit jarring, but not awful

0. Nonstop action for a fantasy of manners / nothing happens for epic or adventure fantasy

  • Plot Holes (2 Points)

2. None that I could spot

1. Some minor ones

0. Major

Originality (3 Points)

3. Most of this was something I’d never seen

2. If cliché plot points are used, they’re spun in an original way

1. Makes use of some cliches

0. Eye roll, did they just Google cliché plot points

Pacing (10 Points)

Beginning (2 Points)

2. Hits the ground running

1. Slower start but things settle in reasonably quick

0. Takes a long time to get started.

Middle (2 Points)

2. Maintains or picks up

1. Slows down

0. Comes to a dead halt or jumps to something totally unexpected

End (2 Points)

2. Takes off

1. Picks up slightly

0. Slows down or maintains

Thematic Fit (2 Points)

2. Spot on, even if the pacing was slower/faster than normal, it fit the book perfectly.

1. Pacing generally fits theme but there were moments that were off.

0. Slow pacing for an action-oriented plot-driven book / lightning fast pacing for character-driven.

Difficulty to Put Down (2 Points)

2. I couldn’t put the damn thing down.

1. Average

0. Procrastinate on picking it back up.

Prose (5 Points)

Memorable (4 Points)

4. Highlighting line after awesome line

3. Notable prose

2. Average (e.g. Sanderson)

1. Unnecessarily confusing

0. Unreadable

Complexity (1 Point)

1. Fits the story

0. Not appropriate for story

Dialogue (5 Points)

+1 Natural rhythm

+1 Distinct character voices

+1 Appropriate quantity

+1 Authentic emotion

+1 Memorable

Editing (5 Points)

5. No noticeable editing errors (typos, incorrect word usage, grammar, clarity, etc.)

4. Only a couple errors

3. More than a handful, but not every chapter

2. Maybe once a chapter

1. Frequent, every page or so

0. Too many to keep track

Presentation (5 Points)

Cover (3 Points)

3. holy shit that’s gorgeous

2. good cover

1. looks good but doesn’t fit with the book

0. MS paint / sloppy feel

Blurb (2 Points)

2. I’m reading this first regardless of prior plans

1. Written well, mostly fits book, intriguing, non-spoilery

0. Grammatical errors / inaccurately portrays book

Personal Enjoyment (10 Points)

10. One of the best books I’ve ever read, probably my current favorite book of all time

9. Amazing, I will not shut up until everyone reads this

8. Really great, gripped me from start to finish, a solid 5-star rating on Goodreads

7. Something stood out to mark this as better than many books

6. Average, this is where most books should fall

5. A bit below average, a couple issues that kept me from enjoying it fully

4. I was very meh on the whole experience

3. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t easy to finish, I kept procrastinating on reading it

2. I finished it out of spite and now I’m bitter

1. DNF

Bonus Points!

I have a few biases that I will do my best to recognize and limit to these bonus points.
At my discretion, books may receive a +1 for any of the following:

  • Having a well-narrated audiobook available
  • The author conducts themselves with exceptional professionalism

Pet Peeves

Similarly, there are some things that automatically make me enjoy a book less, and I’ll do my best to account for these here. Most of these are things that I don’t enjoy but others may, so I’ll try to limit their impact on my scoring to only this section.

At my discretion, books may receive a -1 for any of the following:

  • Fridging women
  • Will They / Won’t They romance
  • Love triangles
  • Farm boys rising to great power
  • Medieval stagnation
  • Jarring anachronisms
  • Excessive adverbs
  • Inconsistent comma use
  • Black and white morality
  • Blatant wish fulfillment
  • Blatant male/female gaze

I’ll list whichever of these I find applicable in my review along with a “-1” score. They won’t get a separate table.