When I first started blogging I didn't add star ratings to my reviews, mostly because I found it difficult to narrow down my thoughts to numbers. It's all pretty subjective anyway. But since most websites that look at reviews force you to give star ratings and I did find that I liked getting an immediate visual on other blogs for how the blogger felt about the book, I thought I should just add it to my reviews. But it's still hard sometimes to decide on a rating! For me, the overall deciding factor (especially when there are small issues I had with the book) is how much did I enjoy it? And such a subjective measure does bother me a little because I do like to think my ratings are fair and generally accurate and true across the board. But they can't be if my number one measure is personal enjoyment/preference. Oh well. It is the same for every blogger. Sometimes I like to kick around the idea of a rating that analyzes specific factors and takes away personal preferences - a way to logically argue a viewpoint of things like characters, plot and pace and takes off points for a character doing something stupid and unbelievable for instance. But that's ridiculous really, and way too difficult!
I wanted to break down my feelings on what each rating I give means to me in this post - as a way for me to fully understand why I give what I give to keep me consistent, and also to see what others think when it comes to how to rate books.
Five star books for me, almost always excel in the storytelling. The writing, characters and plot doesn't have to be perfect, but my enjoyment of the book was perfect. Sometimes everything about the book was perfect to me - and I like to highlight that in my actual review - but there are times when I was disappointed here or there but I felt like the book held my interest and captivated me enough to give it all the stars. If I couldn't put the book down even if there are flaws I think it deserves a rating that reflects that I was totally involved with the story. Also I would recommend this book to others and if it's a series I am definitely planning to continue on with it.
Probably this is the rating I give most of the books I read. I did enjoy it and I connected with the story and/or characters, but there were little issues that meant I felt it wasn't the perfect read for me. Oftentimes I give this to a story that has a great plot and characters but the writing or execution of it somehow was disappointing. Or even if a book has a big disappointment for me, but also something rather brilliant about it, I will rate it more for that brilliant part. Basically there are flaws, but I still thought the book was an excellent read. If this is a series though, I may not put continuing with the series on my priority list, but there is a big chance I will continue with it eventually.
I always feel bad giving this rating because these books almost were great for me. They had a lot going for it, but in the end I couldn't get into it as much as I wanted to. These books could even be generally thought of as excellent, but my own personal enjoyment was middling to bored and I can't say I would recommend the book. I might even forget the book the minute I finish writing the review. So probably the best thing I can say is that it's not bad, it's just not worth the time I put into it.
This is a book I could not connect to. My enjoyment level was near the basement, and I forced myself to continue either with the hope that it would get better or because I felt like I had to finish it for some reason. But really I didn't care for it, and I was disappointed by it most of the time. There may be some merit - in the writing, characters or plot but it wasn't enough for me to feel warm happy thoughts about the story.
I've never actually given out this rating on my blog. There are definitely books that deserve it but they also belong to another category that gives me less stress and allows me to enjoy reading. And I don't review these on my blog. What are these? The DNF. To hit this category I have to dislike the writing, the characters, the plot, maybe even shudder at the title of the book. To my mind, the worst book I ever had to finish (the one that made me hate life as I turned pages) was Moby Dick. I know it has merit. I just couldn't find it. And it didn't help that it's so bloody long.
In the end, I still don't really like to give star ratings to my reviews. Mostly because I feel bad about docking stars from a book. I want to love you Book!! But it is necessary when readers are faced with so many books in the market, and on average star ratings on websites (like Amazon and Goodreads) are pretty accurate when gauging the quality of the book. When first you factor in what genres you like to read of course. It helps readers make a difficult choice - What book should I read next?
If you are a reviewer reading this, how do you feel about giving ratings? How much do you rely on them when scoping out your next read?