The Good Terrorist has been labelled a "political novel", but several commentators have pointed out that it is more a novel about politics than political fiction. In From the Margins of Empire: Christina Stead, Doris Lessing, Nadine Gordimer, Louise Yelin called it "a political novel or, more precise, a novel about politics that calls into question the authenticity of political beliefs". William H. Pritchard took a harder line and questioned Alison Lurie's decision to label the book a "political novel" in her review of it in The New York Review of Books.
The Good Terrorist has also been called a satire. In her book Doris Lessing: The Poetics of Change, Gayle Greene called it a "satire of a group of revolutionaries", and Susan Watkins, writing in Doris Lessing: Border Crossings, described it as a "dry and satirical examination of a woman's involvement with a left-wing splinter group". A biography of Lessing for the Swedish Academy on the occasion of her winning the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature described the book as "a satirical picture of the need of the contemporary left for total control and the female protagonist's misdirected martyrdom and subjugation". Yelin said the novel "oscillat[ed] between satire and nostalgia". Academic Robert E. Kuehn, however, felt that it is not satire at all. He stated while the book could have been a "satire of the blackest and most hilarious kind", in his opinion Lessing "has no sense of humor, and instead of lashing [the characters] with the satirist's whip, she treats them with unremitting and belittling irony".
Virginia Scott called the novel a fantasy. Drawing on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in The International Fiction Review, she wrote that "[Lessing's] Alice with her group of political revolutionaries can be seen as a serious fantasy which has striking parallels to ... Carroll's Alice". Scott noted that at one point in The Good Terrorist, Faye refers to Alice as "Alice the Wonder, the wondrous Alice", alluding to Carroll's Alice.