After downing Mockingjay earlier this week, I went to write my review and found I thought quite a bit in terms of the Harry Dresden books. I read a lot of urban fantasy (about 20-30% of my reading could be classified as such). I'm not a huge fan of Harry Dresden books, but I find them enjoyable in a mind candy kind of way. I know Dresden isn't the first of its ilk and I don't care. To me, the Dresden books represent the mid point, top of the bell curve, Mendoza line, or whatever of the urban fantasy world. In order to create a Rate-O-Meter, I need to describe the central characteristics. I know there are plenty of definitions already out there and I'm probably not really qualified to pigeon hole books, but that's what I'm going to do.
1) Plot driven. The plot to me is generally the most important part of any book. If it's boring, it's boring. We're looking for mostly linear storytelling of events that typically happen within a relatively short time span. There is definitive central goal that drives the action. For example, in Storm Front, Harry Dresden is hired to find a magical killer or killers. Goals can change or morph or shift, but there is a goal that drives the bulk of the actions in the book.
2) Central character. In Dresden files, it's Harry Dresden, wizard. In Druid Chronicles, the central character is a centuries old Druid. Sometimes, it's a regular guy or gal thrust into a magical world like Neverwhere. Sure, there are plenty of other players, but typically, there is one central character that the drives the plot. Sometimes, like in Dresden, it's a first person narrative. Other times, it's third person told through the lens of the central character. But make no mistake, the central character is supreme.
3) Fantasy Hook. Typically this is done through the central character. Harry Dresden is a real wizard in a world where magic is known to only a few. Miriam from Mockingbird sees how people will die when she touches them. In Neverwhere, the central character is a regular Joe thrust into a fantastic world.
4) Level of Supernatural. Related to fantasy hook, the level of supernatural is how much supernatural or magic or whatever exists in the world. In Dresden, you don't only have magic, but there are Fairies with their own hard to access kingdoms, vampires, werewolves, demons and all sorts of other stuff. Very high.
5) Characters interaction in the world. Almost all of Dresden's world interaction is due to his wizadry. This is more about level of "believability" and subjective like than level.
I may expand this as necessary as it's my first pass, but for now, this is what I've got. For me, Dresden is the Mendoza line with a 7 out of ten in all categories. All categories are entirely subjective to my whims and tastes. There are no other considerations.