We all know that rating a book is completely subjective and we are probably pretty hard pressed to find two reviewers who do it exactly the same. I’ve never actually shared what my star ratings are supposed to mean because honestly I’ve never been completely sure. I haven’t really set up defined parameters, but have tried to just go with a gut feeling. That said, I will try to define what my star ratings mean a little later.
When I first started this blog, I had it in the back of my mind that maybe, possibly, eventually I could become good enough that I could find some site that would like to hire me to write reviews. So I wanted to be able to really critically review books, based on many aspects of writing and not just on how much I enjoyed a book. And giving, say, Anna and the French Kiss, 5 stars is not something that would convince anyone of my critical analysis skills.
So in that spirit, I started out this blog by being pretty harsh with my ratings. Once I realized that this would never be anything more than a hobby, I started to become a little more generous, but I still haven’t ever given a book 5 stars. And now, after 3 years of blogging, I feel like I can’t change my mind about how I rate. If I suddenly lower my standards when it comes to 5 star ratings it feels unfair to the books I’ve read previously. I’m also afraid that by those new standards, I could end up with 5 star rated books that are not as good as some of my 4 star rated books. And yes I realize this doesn’t really effect anyone except myself, but it really give me anxiety sometimes.
This also makes me really suspicious of other people’s 5 star ratings. There are some reviewers out there that seem to pass them out like candy to every book they read. When every book is 5 stars, how can I trust their opinion? Of course, when most of my books are around 3 stars, it appears that I don’t really have much of an opinion. But, still, there are so many hyped books out there that I find just ok and everyone else is giving it 5 star ratings and I just can’t wrap my head around it.
Ok, so what’s my rating criteria??
1 star – Completely awful with basically no redeeming characteristics.
2 stars – Has a couple of redeeming qualities, but mostly complaints. May include: terrible writing, unlikable or underdeveloped characters, outlandish or boring plot.
3 stars – Is enjoyable and pretty well-written, but nothing that really stands out from the genre. It could be something I really enjoyed, but I still have issues with writing/plot/characters, etc. or something that had great writing or a couple of great characters, but lacked in every other aspect.
4 Stars – Both enjoyable and well written. Stands out amongst similar books. Have only a couple, minor complaints.
5 Stars – Perfection. Completely enjoyable and really well written. Not a single complaint.
Some books I’ve reviewed that have come close to 5 Stars
–Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
–Golden Son by Pierce Brown
–The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
–Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo