I feel like just because "The Force Awakens" was good doesn't mean it's beyond criticism. That's a very conformist mentality to adhere to: People shouldn't have to turn off their brains just to enjoy something.
At the end of the day, with the exception of the new characters, anyone could have easily written Episode VII - it wasn't a hard task to pull off. And that's because it followed the original film's plot, point-for-point, and that is a fact as well as a valid criticism.
This idea that a film shouldn't be criticized on it's own merits because it's apart of a larger series is simply wild to me. By that logic, all the grown-ass crybaby fanboys should've stopped bitching about "The Phantom Menace" somewhere around 2005 since it led to the strongest film in the Prequel Trilogy, which was "Revenge of the Sith". But that didn't happen, as we all know, because most fans didn't feel that "The Phantom Menace" stood strong on its own, ironically.
Now, for the sake of optimism, we can hope for a far more original story in Episode VIII next year. However, with Rey and Finn's respective paternities shrouded in mystery and open to revelation like Luke's once was, Phasma (who was completely wasted in Episode VII) left to settle a score with Finn the way things once were between Fett and Solo, as well as Kylo Ren left scarred and looking for revenge after being defeated at the hands of a young warrior the way Darth Vader once was: Could anyone be blamed for suspecting Episode VIII to be nothing but a clone of "Empire Strikes Back"? I don't think so. But we'll see.