Friday, August 17, 2012

The Rating System In My Head (2/2)

Tuesday, I talked about why I don't use a rating system on my blog. It was a long and involved answer, but basically it boiled down to the fact that I'm neurotic and would take ratings waaaay too seriously. I don't mind if other people use them, I personally just can't.

But what happens if I have to use a rating system? Goodreads requires a rating of 1-5 stars, as does LibraryThing. I happen to use both (and you should totally come find me by following the links), so what do I do?

Well, I rate the books, obviously. But why does, say, Grave Mercy get five stars, while Before I Fall gets "only" four?

I'm so glad you asked! Here is my general rationale.

You... are... so... byoo-tee-full... to meeeeee
Five Stars: Five stars is the cream of the crop. Five stars are reserved for books that make me want to twirl after finishing. They're the books that I want to buy immediately and place on my shelf and call my Precious. Five stars doesn't mean that said book is the next Tolstoy masterpiece or any such thing. Five stars means I am delighted and thrilled to my toes. No matter where I move, no matter what I do in life, those books will come with me.

Is it just me, or does this hand look weirder the longer you look at it?
Four Stars: Sensibly, four stars means a book didn't quite make it to five stars. Four stars is still really, really good, though. Four stars means that the story is solid, the characters are likable, etc. I just wasn't completely won over. Either I had a complaint about some aspect of the story that was big enough to mar my enjoyment or I just wasn't feeling it. With Before I Fall, the issue was simply that there was so much language and general nastiness that I knew I wouldn't bring it into my house permanently. The story was superb, but it wouldn't be a "follow me everywhere to the end of my days" type of book.

Three Stars: This is where I start getting a wee bit peeved. Three stars is the middle of the road, where the problem areas threaten to overtake the positive points. When I read a three-star book, there are flashes of brilliance in the manuscript, but I often find myself groaning at the author, "If you had only done X instead!"

It's a meme, y'all. No freaking out about my grammar.
Two Stars: Now I'm cranky. Sometimes, two-stars books have moments of potential, but the author runs them into the ground. I sit with the book in my lap and wail, "You could have done so much more!" Other times, the author goes stomping through the story, smearing one of my pet peeves all over the page. (Goddess Interrupted is a good example of smeared pet peeves.) I have to give the book at least two stars because of those teeny-tiny moments where I enjoyed something (credit where credit is due), but otherwise I'm usually in a snit for much of the book.

Just shoot me now.
One Star: I currently only have one one-star review. It's a rarity not because I'm brilliant at choosing books, but because my patience is so short that I'll generally DNF a book quickly if it starts veering into one-star territory (or even two-star, for that matter). The one time I stuck around to the end of a one-star book was because I hoped in vain that the author would turn the story around. Instead, I reached the end and was aggravated with myself for wasting my time.

Gosh, I love this show.
Zero Stars: A book with zero stars means one of three things. 1) I've read the book and have no plans to review it - though this option is now being phased out. 2) I've read the book but my review isn't up yet - spoilers, sweetie. 3) I didn't finish the book. Sometimes I don't finish a book because it's awful from the get-go. But sometimes I don't finish a book just because I'm not in the mood or the opening was boring or whatever. Like I've said, life's too short and there are too many other great books clamoring for my attention.


Obviously, these are not rigid rules. There's some fluidity between the levels, and I often change my opinion on a book after a few months. Shatter Me, which managed three stars, is one such example. I can't get that freaking book out of my head. The rating I give only reflects how I feel about a book at the moment that I review it, not how I'll feel about the book for all time.

So now you know. Now come join me in the comments section and tell me how YOU rate books. Also, feel free to "discuss" my Goodreads ratings. I love a lively discussion!