Hi friends! Everyone rates books differently; I’m sure you all know this. Between different number scales, letter grades, stars, and the frequency with which they are given, each person has their own little book grading system. I figured I’d explain mine here with some examples of each so that you get a better idea of what my ratings mean and how often I give certain evaluations, because I do think I’m a little more on the strict side when it comes to my system.
First, the basics. I use a five-star rating system with half star possibilities (which I always round up on my Goodreads reviews). I have criteria or ideas for what makes a book a certain whole-star level, and use half stars for those that fall slightly in-between, rather than having standards for every half-step. Of course, books in certain star levels aren’t always equal and I place them for different reasons, I’ll do my best to explain the general basis for each of the stars I give:
Bad books. Really insufferable with little to no redeeming qualities. These books are either poorly written, not captivating, lacking elements important to basic novel structure or overall effort, or contain some sort of abhorrent event or flaw that makes the book infuriating or near unfinishable. The only books that I’ve ever rated one star was A Wrinkle in Time many years ago (and would probably rate it higher today), and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (whose rating I wholeheartedly stand by). I don’t recommend these books to anyone. One star books are my least frequent rating.
Not great. There are more things that I dislike than like, although there are enjoyable qualities about them. These books often have one major weakness that greatly weakens my overall enjoyment of the plot, or are typically lacking in consistent pace or character development. Good examples of two star books for me include Allegiant, Black Chalk, Leave the World Behind, and The Twisted Ones. I would recommend these books to a limited number of people with specific interests. Two star books are my third most frequent rating.
Very fair. These books are overall enjoyable and have a generally equal number of positives and negatives. The faults present in these books may not be issues for everyone but dampened my enjoyment, most likely pacing problems, an unsatisfactory ending, lackluster prose, or minor character development issues. These books might also be totally fine, but lack any sort of additional intrigue or superb qualities to merit a higher review. Good examples of three star reads for me include the likes of A Court of Thorns and Roses, And Then There Were None, The Wicked Deep, and Pretty Girls. I would recommend these books to most people. Three star books are my most frequent rating.
Really good. I thoroughly enjoy these reads in so many aspects. While they aren’t perfect, for whatever reason, the good outweighs the bad and does not hamper my enjoyment of the novel. If it’s a series, I will gladly continue; if it’s a standalone, I will happily seek out and read more from the author. Some good four star examples include One Dark Throne, The Hollow Places, The Long Walk, and Bird Box. I would recommend these books to anyone. Three star books are my second most frequent rating.
Stunning books. These reads stick with me and have incredible twists, brilliant character development, a fantastic plot, exquisite writing, or captivating messages (often a combination of these!). Few are completely perfect, but any faults can be easily overlooked for the pure enjoyment these titles bring. Titles among the five star favorites include The Fifth Season, The Martian, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and the Mistborn trilogy. I believe everyone should read these books. Five star books are my fourth most frequent rating.