On 0-5 Star Ratings



I’ve read a lot of other book reviewer’s posts who have talked about what their star ratings mean (places like Amazon do oddly have their own caption for each number of stars but does anyone really follow that?). Some folk don’t give anything below 3 stars, some folk only rate but don’t review below 3 stars, and many people have their own little system for each number of stars.

I confess a lot of my ratings are either purely subjective WOO I LOVED IT, or YERCH 1-star for you, yet everything inbetween (2-4) has been a carefully thought out rating based on what I thought readers/the author will respond best to (so sue me).

Thusly I hadn’t really thought much on the subject until recently when I realized the above strategy was pretty inconsistent, and I also noticed that a lot of my ratings depended heavily on context. A piece in a series from a brilliant author might receive a low rating, whereas a self-published book that was unpolished but I found a sense of enjoyment reading might be high. Looking at the comparisons between books I’ve reviewed in the past offers no reprieve, the rhyme and reason is absent.

Granted its not that easy. Is it really possible to compare a decent but un-original work of non-fiction, to a well-written biography for a celebrity I hate, and then across fiction genres. Does a short story really compare to a 1000 page fantasy epic??

Anyway, the point is I’m turning over a new leaf – I’m going to embrace the subjectivity and chaos and not even bother with fairness. My rating system will have no categorization, and be entire based on my judgement of the author and piece and what I think they deserve. Self-published, decent, but not quite trad quality? 5-stars for being better than the dross. Great but obviously lazy non-fiction work? 3-stars. I had a migraine while I read your work? Random selection.

I guess this is somewhat of a Jokeresuqe approach to rating, but to be honest it probably won’t change much of how I rate books. What I’ve found lately is there is so much pressure on reviews sometimes, write well, don’t offend, read the ‘room’ in terms of how a book is going, be authentic, back up your opinion, a star rating really doesn’t do any justice to any of that – and since websites basically use the star system to ‘reward’ products by their rating, I will too.

For other reviewers out there, how do you handle this issue?


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