1. Must have characters that you love AND hate. Of course some of these came change with the story, but not too many. Otherwise, why care what happens!
2. There MUST be unexpected plot reversals.That is why we follow the story!
3. Have a point to make, but not too many. Life is about lessons and the best, most memorable experiences teach us lessons.
4. Must be believable. This includes the characters, the events and the setting. In SciFi this means we have to work harder to set things up. And I never liked dumbing down characters to make the action flow. The key is to always begin with an element of truth, then twist it to fit your needs.
5. Use dialog and visuals to put the reader inside the action. The mind is a terrible thing to waste and nothing makes better use of the mind than STEM or good fiction reading. Given the the proper treatment, we can see better with our imagination than what can be captured on the big screen!
This is how you write 5-Star novels. Short cuts don't do.