I should probably explain how I go about rating the books I read. I had a long conversation with some close friends and family and, generally, they were very confused when I said I would most likely read the next book in a series after giving the first book a 2 out of 5. I have my reasons.
Let me start off by saying I enjoy reading series. I like big and complicated worlds with deep characters. Generally, people and places like that mean you need more than one book to cover everything and I like that. I do read one off stories occasionally and enjoy those as well (The Martian and Ready Player One were awesome). But more often than not, the fantasy/fiction books I enjoy are series and if there is one thing I hate, it’s not finishing a series. So unless a book is god awful, I’ll usually slog through the whole series even if the first book gets a 2.
So what does my star rating really mean? It’s pretty simple, which is why I stick to 5 rather than 10 stars. I also don’t usually rate books based on the writing style unless the writing is just so bad or the grammar so off that it ruins the story. There have been two books I have read like this in the past and the bad writing and switching of the tenses was so aggravating that I was never really pulled into the story. Despite those being long series, I won’t read another. And no, I’m not going to mention the books either. Despite me personally not liking them, there are tons of people who do and the author put a lot of work into it. I didn’t enjoy it sure, but I’m not a fan of just bad mouthing authors either.
Those kinds of books by the way, are automatic 1 stars. The rest is usually based on how much I enjoyed the book as a whole. This means its characters, its world building, how relatable I find the protagonist (or antagonist), how original the book was, and the style (mainly that means if the author has a style that starts bugging me then it may affect the rating – like over using italics. That’s meant to emphasize words but if you use it every sentence it loses its impact, just saying).
Books I give 2 stars to have weak or shallow characters, the world is not original (nor is the conflict), I don’t relate to the main characters or find them to be people I want to root for… depending on how many of these elements are present or how much certain missteps bother me will dictate if it’s a 2 or 2.5 stars. Because I’ve read books that were solid 2’s but something about them made it so I didn’t want to put the book down. That’ll bump it up a bit and then I’m reading the next in the series (and probably regretting it after).
3’s are all around solid books and I’ll recommend them to friends who I am familiar with in terms of their reading style and genre preference. They aren’t the best books in the world, but enjoyable and worth the money for sure.
4’s have wonderful characters, interesting new worlds, unique stories, the style is refreshing, and I’m rooting for the main characters. I tend to give a lot of 4’s these days because I know the kinds of books I like and stick to that genre. It does mean that I don’t branch out much so if you have some book suggestions outside of my tried and true genres, please share!
I hardly give a 5 rating though. To me, this means perfection where everything comes together in a wonderful kitten and puppy wrapped package and maintains that all the way to the end. In a series, this is hard to do as some books are just about getting a character to a particular place and they fall into a bit of a slump.
5’s are unicorns for that very reason. There is always something we can improve on, no one is perfect. I learned that in college when my university maintained that no one gets an A+ in anything because no one is perfect. I’m not bitter, really.
I gave more 5’s when I was a bit younger too. I’m probably just cynical now or read too much (who am I kidding, you can never read too much!). It’s been a long time where I’ve found a book that was so good it had me reading it in one sitting. I can’t say for certain if life is more to blame for that with its endless torrent of adult related responsibilities. I just can’t read all day long anymore. But I genuinely feel like I haven’t found a story in a long time that holds so tightly on to my heart that I am desperate to keep going and then sad when it is over because it feels like I am saying good bye to friends. I have had experiences like that before and long for them again so, once more I implore you, if you have run across such a story, please share!!