Let's get something out of the way right from the start: reviewers aren't always right, and I'm no exception to this rule. In particular, my reviews don't represent the final word about any story. One thing I've learned as a writer is that everyone approaches a story from a different perspective, and that any given reader may fail to appreciate the writer's perspective or enjoy their style, even if (by nominally objective criteria) it's a decent story. Thus: anything you read at this site represents my personal perspective as a reader, not some version of a critic's revealed divine wisdom or absolute truth.
That being said, I use several criteria when I review fiction:
I never try to fit a story to the Procrustean bed of lit-crit or literary theory ab initio. I always read the story first and ask myself whether I liked it and whether it worked for me. I may then borrow from what I know of this body of theory to help explain why it did or did not work for me. But I always start with the story first and subject it to the criteria in this (s)creed; I do not start with any theoretical criteria and ask whether a story works from that purely artificial perspective.
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