Today on my blog, I thought I would share with you how my star rating system works. I personally find it quite interesting to hear about how people judge books, and there are a couple of things I take into account when deciding how many stars to give a book. I have added a few examples of books at various different star ratings – I haven’t reviewed all of these yet, but I will add links in where I have done!
Honestly, if I found a book so awful that I would give it 1 star, I would be unlikely to review it. The same goes for a book with no stars. Unless a book is really problematic (for example, the narrative is racist, or there’s a lot of victim-blaming), I personally feel that it’s unnecessary and slightly cruel to write an entire review on why you hated the book that much. After all, reading is an experience unique to the reader, and there may be someone who views my one star as a five star.
At two stars, these books are generally poorly written and have a storyline that is boring and clichéd or just . . . bad. Although I don’t really like these books, sometimes I do enjoy reading them, weird as that may sound. For instance, Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider I would give two and a half stars (the extra half because it wasn’t actually written badly), and whilst I actively thought as I was reading it ‘this book is kind of bad’, I found the stereotypical characters and plot quite entertaining. So two star books are ones I dislike rather than hate.
I would give a book a three star rating for one of two reasons: either it was well written, with realistic characters and solid character development, but I just felt underwhelmed by the events in the novel and general plot. An example of this is The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood. The other reason is when a book isn’t brilliantly written, but has a really strong, interesting plot. If this is the case, then depending on how much I like the concept of a book, I will bump it up to three and a half stars, because it’s likely that others who do like the writing style will absolutely love said book. An example of a book I would give three and a half stars would be Ink by Alice Broadway. The writing style wasn’t for me, and I found the narrative voice quite grating at times, but I think the story was fantastic and I loved the setting Alice Broadway created. Whatever my reasons are, three star books are ones I do enjoy, but don’t particularly blow me away.
Four star books are usually ones with great characters, a great plot, great writing. Ones I really really liked, and maybe even loved in some cases, but was just short of filling me with that excitable reading feeling I feel with five star books. Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman is one of these, as even though I did not give it five stars, I still thought it was a wonderful book, and find myself recommending it to other people quite frequently. Similar to three star books, occasionally I will give a book four stars, even if I’m not too keen on the writing style, if it has a really important themes. An example of this is Show Stopper by Hayley Barker (out in June) – I really enjoyed this book, despite disliking the narrative some of the time; I think it conveys a really important message about racism, and it does it in a really creative way. I have reviews to come for both of the books mentioned, so I look forward to discussing them in more depth!
This is reserved for books that I could hardly put down; books that I rate five stars are the ones I consider to be my absolute favourites, the kind that make you fangirl as you are reading, and stay in your head long after you’ve finished. Honestly, the main thing separating a five star book from a four star book is personal taste – which is how I think it should be. There has to be a point where a book surpasses all of the criteria you consider as a reviewer, and becomes a book you adored as a reader. A few of examples of books I would give five stars are Heartless by Marissa Meyer, Caraval by Stephanie Garber and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Another type of rating I like is Lia’s (from Lost In A Story) – she has a separate diversity rating that she gives books she reviews, which is based off of whether there are any POC, LGBTQ+ etc. characters. I think is a really good idea, and I would quite like to implement something similar in my reviews at some point.
I hope this was interesting in some way – I would love to hear if your star rating system is similar to mine, or completely different. Do you take other factors into account? Please let me know!