Mar 27 2012

How I Rate Books I Read And Review

Posted by Mathias in Book Reviews, General Things

Ok, so I get a really snarky email last night from someone that was not at all pleased with my review of Ian Irvine’s latest book Vengeance. I gave that book three of five stars which is a rating of average. But this upset person, obviously a fan of Mr. Irvine’s work, claimed that I gave the book a poor rating.

No, if I had given it none or one stars THAT would have been a poor rating. See, on a five star scale, three is average. That means I thought Vengeance was an average fantasy novel. I gave it that rating because of its many faults which I discussed in the review. To get more than an average review, a story has to really inspire me to give it such a lofty rating. To give you an idea as to what would it take to get higher than three stars? Well, Kristen Britain’s Green Rider got three and a half stars from me and The Alchemist got four stars which is one of the highest ratings I have ever given a story.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Executioness, the companion to The Alchemist, rated a fairly miserable two stars in my book.

It takes a lot to get me to rate a story higher than four stars. But three stars does not mean the story was bad. I see on a lot of sites like Amazon with reviews of books with people who are apparently very eager to give clearly mediocre books “five star” praise for some reason. Almost every darn book has a host of praise proclaiming it essentially the greatest story ever written. I usually ignore these glowing reviews by people that have obviously not critically read the story they are reviewing. And logic tells us that not every book can be “five stars”. Yet there are the reviews and averages ranging up in the 4.5+ star range for so many books.

I believe that I give the book a fair shake. Three stars, like I said, is an average representation of literature. The book is neither great nor horrid when it gets such a rating. It means that the author told a story and that story was conveyed in an average fashion. The story did not make me jump for joy nor did it so repulse me that I want to have the memory of having read it surgically removed from my mind. Don’t get upset with me because I did not go gaga for your favorite author’s latest release. If you really think his or her book is five stars and among the best books ever written then more power to you. I just rarely see a book that I would consider elevating to such a lofty standard.

And lest you think otherwise, I don’t even hold my own stories that I am working on among those high standards. I am not that delusional.

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