Marlowe analyzes 5 more bestsellers of 2023 - Authors A.I.

JD Lasica
January 22, 2024


This is the second of a two-part series breaking down our AI’s analysis of 10 top-selling novels of 2023.

What makes a novel a bestseller in today’s marketplace? Last week we looked at five of the top-selling novels of 2023. Today we’ll look at five more bestsellers of the past year (numbers 6-10 below). You’ll find a description of the book by an AI and my take on what contributed to the book’s success after we ran it through our AI analysis tool, Marlowe.

To see the full AI report on each novel (at no cost), click on the module below each book jacket.


Click here to see the Marlowe Pro analysis of this novel

6. Demon Copperhead

By Barbara Kingsolver
Genre: General or literary fiction
See purchase options on BingeBooks

GPT-4 book description

“Demon Copperhead” is a compelling and gritty narrative that begins with the protagonist’s birth in a challenging and dysfunctional environment. The opening lines set the tone for a story that delves into themes of personal struggle, resilience, and the complexities of family dynamics in a world that is often harsh and unforgiving. The protagonist’s journey, marked by adversity and a quest for identity and purpose, unfolds against a backdrop of societal issues and personal demons, promising a deeply human and poignant exploration of life’s trials and triumphs.

Marlowe Pro report takeaways

Kingsolver’s acclaimed novel is one of the literary gems of recent years. The storyline follows the classic Rags to Riches plot archetype. Narrative beats are few and far between — not surprising in a literary novel — with positive beats at the 27%, 44% and 77% mark and conflict beats at the 37%, 67% and 89% mark. Pacing shows a lot of hilltops and valleys, with few of the plateaus that indicate static storytelling. The characters in “Demon Copperhead” don’t seem to vary considerably in major traits, which may be a reflection of subtleties in a story that’s more about reflections and internal struggles rather than external action.

Dialogue in “Demon Copperfield” is unusually low — 10% vs. 90% for narrative. Marlowe tracked the primary emotional components of the work and broke it down as 21% joy, 13% fear, 13% anger, 13% distrust/revulsion and 12% sadness. For a literary work, there are a whole lot of obscenities here, starting with 205 incidences of “shit” and 115 f-bombs; explicit content, though, is nonexistent. “Demon Copperfield” clocks in at 212,282 words, and the average length of a sentence is 11.78 words. Sentences have a complexity score of 2.62. And the average reading grade level is 5.37, according to Marlowe.

Subject matter book comp: “Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn.

Writing style book comp, besides her own “Poisonwood Bible,” was a surprise: “Easy Prey” by John Sandford.


Click here to see the Marlowe Pro analysis of this novel

7. Things We Never Got Over

By Lucy Score
Genre: Romance
See purchase options on BingeBooks

GPT-4 book description

“Things We Never Got Over” is a romantic novel set in the small town of Knockemout, Virginia. The story revolves around Naomi, who arrives in town to rescue her estranged twin sister, Tina, but instead finds herself entangled in a chaotic situation. Naomi’s journey is marked by unexpected twists, including being mistaken for her troublesome sister, dealing with the theft of her car and belongings, and navigating the complexities of small-town dynamics. Central to the narrative is her relationship with Knox, a brooding and enigmatic local, whose initial hostility towards Naomi evolves into a deep, passionate connection. As Naomi grapples with her sister’s erratic behavior, family secrets, and her growing feelings for Knox, she must also contend with the challenges of adapting to life in Knockemout. The novel combines elements of humor, drama, and romance, creating a compelling tale of love, family, and self-discovery against the backdrop of a close-knit community.

Marlowe Pro report takeaways

Lucy Score’s novel follows the Descent narrative arc (see our rundown of the seven major types). Of the books in the Authors A.I. database, the plot turns in “Things We Never Got Over” most closely resemble the plot twists in Stephen King’s “The Outsider.” Narrative beats are nicely spaced, with the first major positive beat hitting at the 13% mark and the first conflict beat at 19%. The pacing graph shows a hilly climb with a nice progression of ascents and descents as the action flows. Personality traits are nicely proportioned between characters.

Dialogue comes in at a chatty 40% compared to 60% narrative — higher than any other bestseller in our sample. The book is rich in profane language, with 320 f-bombs and “ass” and “shit” tied at 125 mentions, though explicit content makes up only 2% of the story.

The novel is long for the romance genre, clocking in at 157,351 words. The average length of a sentence is a nice 9.68 words and the sentence complexity score is 2.45. The novel has a reading grade level of 4.65, a mark of comprehension, not suitability.

Subject matter book comp is “The Next Always” by Nora Roberts.

Writing style book comp is “The Perfect Marriage” by Jeneva Rose.

The Wager

Click here to see the Marlowe Pro analysis of this novel

8. The Wager

By David Grann
Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction
See purchase options on BingeBooks

GPT-4 book description

“The Wager” is a historical novel that delves into the perilous voyages and naval battles of the 18th century. Set against the backdrop of the War of Jenkins’ Ear, it follows the story of David Cheap, the first lieutenant of the British warship Centurion. Cheap, burdened by personal struggles and debts, seeks redemption and fortune at sea. The narrative vividly portrays the harsh realities of naval life during this era, including brutal battles, treacherous sea conditions, and the complex social hierarchy aboard a man-of-war. As the British Empire mobilizes against Spain, Cheap is caught in a web of imperial rivalries, personal ambitions, and the relentless pursuit of glory and treasure. The novel intricately weaves together themes of honor, duty, and the relentless human struggle against both nature and enemy, offering a gripping and detailed glimpse into maritime history.

Marlowe Pro report takeaway

“The Wager” has a bit of an unconventional narrative arc though Marlowe said it most closely resembles the Man in the Hole story shape. There is a lot happening in this novel, with five major positive beats and five major conflict beats perfectly spaced out. The pacing has lots of ebbs and flows, with a gap in the action at the 82% mark. Personality traits were not as varied as the ideal.

Dialogue comes in at a typical 20% dialogue and 80% narrative. Fear, sadness and disgust were the three predominant emotions detected in the story. Seafaring and soldiers were the dominant subjects detected. The work is free of profane language.

Sentence length is strikingly longer than the bestseller average, coming in at 19.56 words per sentence on average. The sentence complexity score is also higher at 3.2 than any other title in our mix. It has a remarkably high reading grade level of 10.62

Subject matter comp is “Pirate Latitudes” by Michael Crichton, no doubt due to its maritime subject matter.

Writing style comp is “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northrup.


Click here to see the Marlowe Pro analysis of this novel

9. Haunting Adeline

By H.D. Carlton
Genres: Gothic Romance, Romantic Suspense, Psychological Thriller
See purchase options on BingeBooks

GPT-4 book description

“Haunting Adeline” is a dark and intense psychological thriller with elements of romance. The novel follows the story of Adeline, a successful writer who inherits a manor from her grandmother, leading her to move back to her hometown. The manor, known as Parsons Manor, is surrounded by mysteries and ghostly legends, which Adeline finds fascinating. Her return to the manor triggers a series of eerie and unsettling events, including unexplained occurrences and the feeling of being watched. This coincides with her encounter with a mysterious, scarred man whose presence intensifies the sense of danger and intrigue. As the story unfolds, Adeline discovers hidden family secrets and faces her own dark past, all while being drawn into a dangerous and obsessive relationship. The novel combines elements of horror, suspense, and romance, creating a haunting atmosphere that keeps the reader engaged and on edge.

Marlowe Pro report takeaways

The novel tracks almost a perfect Voyage and Return narrative arc. “Haunting Adeline” seems to be front-loaded with action, with only one major positive beat and one major conflict beat coming after the halfway mark, according to Marlowe. Pacing was steady except for a major dip at the 63% mark. Character traits are nicely varied. The major emotional components of the novel are evenly split between joy, anger and fear.

Dialogue is at 20% and narrative at 80%. Explicit or profane language is over the top, with 571 f-bombs. About 8% of the content was deemed to be explicit. The novel came in at 169,622 words. Average sentence length was 12.07 words (a bit longer than average), with a median complexity score of 2.58 (about average).

Subject matter book comp is “Twisted Love” (a romance) by Ana Huang.

Writing style book comp is “Backlash” by Lisa Jackson.

Fourth Wing

Click here to see the Marlowe Pro analysis of this novel

10. The Fourth Wing

By Rebecca Yarros
Genre: Fantasy
See purchase options on BingeBooks

GPT-4 book description

“Fourth Wing” (The Empyrean, Book 1) is an intricate novel that weaves a complex tale of love, conflict, and personal growth. The story is set in a richly imagined world where the protagonist, navigating through a series of challenging and transformative experiences, confronts their inner demons and external adversaries. Central themes of the novel include the struggle for identity, the power of resilience, and the importance of relationships in shaping one’s destiny. Amidst a backdrop of political intrigue and social upheaval, the characters in “Fourth Wing” embark on a journey that tests their limits and forces them to reevaluate their beliefs and loyalties. The narrative is marked by intense emotional depth, vivid world-building, and a gripping plot that keeps readers engaged from start to finish. The novel skillfully blends elements of fantasy, romance, and adventure, culminating in a satisfying resolution that sets the stage for further exploration in subsequent series installments.

Marlowe Pro report takeaways

“Fourth Wing” has a standard Quest narrative arc for the fantasy genre, according to Marlowe. Story beats are very well structured, with five major positive beats and five major conflict beats. Pacing seems to have a problematic gap from the 8% to 25% mark, probably a mark of world building. Physicality marks three of the major characters in the novel, perhaps not a surprising result in this world.

Dialogue makes up 30% of the story with 70% narrative. “Fourth Wing” is rife with explicit language, with 236 f-bombs, 131 appearances of “shit” and 1% of explicit content detected by Marlowe. “Fourth Wing” is a looooong novel at 194,221 words, somewhat longer than usual for the fantasy genre. The average length of a sentence is 10.6 words and sentences have a complexity score of 2.53, about average. “Fourth Wing” registered a reading grade level of 5.45.


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