Recently I have been including star ratings on my reviews for books. Giving a book a star rating is a difficult activity, even though it seems easy at first glance. You have to consider everything because star ratings give an overall review in just three characters (5/5, 3/5, or if you want to get fancy and use five characters 2.5/5).
There are six main aspects of a story I consider when deciding the star count of a book. This post will be explaining those ratings, so hopefully you will have a better understanding of what that 3.5/5 really means about the book when you read some of my reviews.
Back before I started reviewing books, many books were rated 5 stars just because I was sobbing/angry/really excited/feeling any strong emotion when I closed the book. Now as a reviewer, I know that just because I was emotional, doesn’t mean the book was phenomenal. I still use emotion as a tool to rate my books however. If an author made me care about a character so much that I cried or laughed or saw life in a new light, that means it deserves some kind of star upgrade. One book that I recently read when this happened was Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland (my review will be up soon). I was feeling so overwhelmed by emotions that I rated it four out of five stars instead of the three and half out of five stars that I would have given it without the amazing emotional factor.
If I read a book that is super funny, but all the jokes are straight from a John Green books, should I give it five stars? What if I read a 2017 debut book that was really interesting, but was about a bunch of children fighting to the death for public enjoyment. Should I give that book five stars? Even if books are not that drastically unoriginal, I want to read something new. Something I have never read before, that introduces me to new worlds, that puts new thoughts into my head. If a book doesn’t have fresh or original concepts or ideas, then it most likely will not be rated very highly. A book that I think is wonderfuly original is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. The writing, the world, the characters, the themes, everything are unlike anything I have read before. After reading The Raven Cycle, I embarked on the epic adventure to discover new and original reads.
This may seem unfair to the book, but I take hype into consideration when rating a book. Did the book live up to all the hype the book community is giving it? I think about this, because as a reviewer I want to tell you what I personally thought of the book. Not what a different blogger liked about. Now on the flip side, I might rate a book higher if I think the book should be getting more hype. Before And I Darken by Kiersten White was released, a lot of negative reviews rolled in from people who got early copies. When I read it, however, I thought it was fantastic (I have a full review right here). I thought that it definitely deserved more hype then it was being given.
Execution of the Book
Was the book executed well? Were the characters realistic? Were there plot holes? Did the plot make sense? How was the world building? Was there a theme? These are all things I carefully consider before giving it a high rating.
If I fell asleep multiple occasions while reading a book, will it get a high rating? Probably not. This kind of has to do with pacing. Was the book entertaining and captivating? Did it keep my attention and did I always want to keep reading? Even books that are not the most action packed can be engaging (usually those books are even more engaging). The Selection series is not the greatest series ever, but all those books (besides The Heir and The Crown) are rated highly for me because of how captivating and addicting they were.
I read books because I enjoy reading books. So I obviously will rate books on the experience. Was the book fun to read? Did I want to read the book or was I forcing myself to keep reading. I felt this way with the book Six of Crows. That book was masterfully crafted, but I did not love reading it (I rated 3.5/5 stars).
I hope you have found this post helpful! O I don’t obviously always use all these factors when rating books, but this is the basic outline. How do you rate your books? Do you use star ratings? I would love to know.