I do think that what we, as readers, deem good writing or a great story all depends upon what we enjoy. In other words, we all have the type of writing that will suck us in and the type we don't connect with. The type of stories that will catch our attention and the type that won't. So everybody has their own opinion on these subjects. Please note that my opinions could differ quite a bit from yours. :)
My first example is, of course, the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis. As I said in my review, Ms. Revis' writing is amazing! She definitely had a way of hooking me in and keeping me engaged enough to want to find out what happened. Even though I wasn't all that thrilled about the actual story.
An opposite example is the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Yes, I've read that series and yes, I'm going to talk about it. The biggest thing I remember thinking while I was reading them, was that the writing was really mediocre. It felt pretty simple to me, if that makes any sense at all. Yet the story itself (while far from perfect and I do acknowledge that it has plenty of problems) was engaging enough to keep me hooked through four really thick books! (Seriously, have you looked at the size of those books recently? They're huge! Very difficult to hold in my hand while trying to read them. In fact, I had to prop them on something while reading because my hands hurt from trying to hold them up.) So Ms. Meyer certainly has a way of imagining a story that will grab people. (As millions of women can attest to.)Obviously the goal of most writers (I assume) is to be great at both writing and story. And I'm sure it's not easy trying to mesh those two things. But it's definitely possible! There's plenty of those examples out there too.
Take My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay. I was blown away by this book! The writing was wonderful and the story swept me up and didn't let go until days and days after I was finished with the book.That's probably the kind of writing that every writer dreams of. To make their readers unable to forget the story days or even months or years later.
The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner is another awesome example of great writing and a terrific story. I didn't think I'd enjoy these books nearly as much as I did. But she was able to make me fall in love with the characters and care about a war between three separate countries.Of course then there are the books where both writing and story are incompatible with the reader. Books that I couldn't finish and couldn't get into the story at all.
For example, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I had read so many excellent reviews of that book and I thought for sure I'd like it. Alas, the story fell flat for me. I simply had no desire to finish it.Perhaps there really isn't any rhyme or reason as to why we fall in love with one book and not with another. While I may love one book by an author, I may not like any of his/her other books. It could just depend on the moment in time. Maybe what you're going through in your life helps your mind decipher what it will enjoy and what it won't. Possibly our moods affect it or other external things as well.
All I know is that there are some books I love and some I don't. Some authors (though very few) that I love everything they write and some I don't. Whatever the reasons behind it, it just is. What say you?