I just read a a great book, Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games series. How did I know it was a great book? Because I couldn't put it down. I couldn't stop reading it. I didn't want to go outside, I didn't want to watch TV, I didn't want to eat, I didn't want to sleep. I just wanted to read the book. It was like a drug. I couldn't get enough and I didn't want it to end.
What made the book so great? I've read many good books with interesting plots and characters, but I think the main difference between The Hunger Games/Catching Fire and other books I've read is how engaged I became with the characters. Contrast that with Stephen King's The Stand, the last book I started reading and put aside to read Catching Fire. For all of King's supposed prowess in character development, I couldn't care less what happens to the people in the book. It wouldn't bother me the least bit if all of them died from the plague. On the other hand, I feel like Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games novels is someone I know. I care what happens to her. When something bad befalls her in the story, I feel it as if it happened to a friend. Harry Potter is another example of a great book. (Not all seven books in the series are great IMHO, but at least some of them are.) I feel like Harry, Ron, and Hermione are my friends. Even the loss of characters
like Sirius and Dobby strikes a chord.
Is the book I'm writing a great book? Sadly, I would have to say no. It's a good book, and I like it (much more than I like anything I've read from Stephen King), but it's not at the level of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. Will I write a great book one day? Maybe. Great books account for less than 5% of the books I've read. It would be quite an accomplishment if I become good enough to write one. It's definitely something to strive for.