BOOK RATINGS (PART 2). I’ve talked once before on book ratings, when I talked about how I rate books, what it means to have a “valuable opinion” (according to some butthead on Twitter), and my generally high rating average on Goodreads. Now that I’ve gotten further into reading and reviewing books, I’ve been thinking about more topics on book ratings. There’s SO much that goes into rating a book once you finish. I’ve found myself coming up with these rating-related issues lately. Brittany posted a discussion about changing book ratings that helped me in thinking about this post.
Sometimes you have no issue rating a book. You loved it. End of story! It gets between 4 and 5 stars. The harder ones to review are the MEH books. The ones that didn’t bother you too much either way. Do you penalize them because they didn’t wow you? Or do you say that because nothing outright offended you, you can stick to maybe 3 stars? It’s also fairly easy to rate books you hated. Obviously they’re not getting much more than something around 2 stars or less.
Lately my ratings have changed SO MUCH. I posted on Twitter a while back that I changed my rating for Red Queen about five times after finishing it. I’ve come to find that there are four main instances where my rating may change between the time I finish the post, as I’m writing the review, and before the review is actually posted. (Part of the issue could be that I schedule reviews so far in advance; I give myself too much of an opportunity to change ratings before they post!)
I finish the book and I think: Yes. I liked that. But did I like it as much as ____? No? Okay, it’s going to be rated less than that. Not everything should be black and white though. Sometimes I’ll finish a book and the FEELS are out of control while there were some other major things that bugged me. The book still may get a very high rating, but then I start to think about other books with that rating. Meant to Be was good, but was it Anna and the French Kiss good? No, of course not; Anna is perfect. However, I loved it. It gave me the major feels. It was in a cute foreign city. Yet, I still took the rating down a half star because I compared it to Anna. I NEED TO STOP DOING THIS. IT’S NOT FAIR.
I’d love to use the apples and oranges comparison metaphor, but there aren’t enough fruits out there to do it justice. Every book is its own fruit. Strawberries and oranges are both sweet, but they look so different. The whole flavor is not the same. You really can’t compare them – not directly, at least. Some books that are rated the same have different aspects that make me like or dislike them. I could read a book with amazing characters and a unique premise, but have the ending ruin the whole thing. Then, I could have a book with awful characters and a boring story, but the ending shocks me. They both could still get a 3 star rating! There are so many elements of a book that can impact the rating.(I should just start making ratings scorecards like some people do!)
Of course the hype surrounding a book can TOTALLY mess with ratings too. If my expectations are too high, either because of bloggers/reviews OR because I loved other books by the author, the rating could go down for sure.
Bottom line: Not all books can be compared so easily. There are different elements in every book that can work together or against each other just to make it work. I can’t say, “was ___ as good as ___?” when I think of rating books for my reviews. My internal rating scorecard combines all the elements in a certain way to form the review for a reason. It’s not black and white. Also another bottom line: nothing compares to Anna and the French Kiss, Lauren, so just stop trying.
I don’t change my ratings just because someone else said something different about it. Sometimes reading other reviews just makes me think differently about the book. Maybe it makes me think more critically. Maybe it makes me cut the book some slack. Either way, reading other people’s reviews brings new ideas into my head, or reinforces my other points. I think, yes, I agreed with EVERYTHING they said. Why did I give it 4 stars when they gave it 3.5, then? Sometimes there are just ~feelings~ you get about book ratings that can make your opinion go one way or the other, but I like seeing what other people thought and rated books as a result.
I wish other people’s opinions didn’t sway mine that much, but I’d be lying if I said that they don’t. I love learning what other people think about books because it can bring me new ideas I hadn’t considered before. This, in turn, can definitely impact my ratings.
Writing reviews for sub-par books can bring out the bitch in me. Sometimes I write a full review and realize that I did nothing but rant about the book… when I actually really didn’t mind it. So many of my 3 star books involve 90% complaints and 10% happiness. You’d think there’d be a better balance. I don’t know what it is about writing reviews, but it’s almost like a catharsis for me. All of my ranting and raving gets going and just doesn’t stop.
Sometimes this negativity can impact my rating. I finish writing the review and I’m like, “wait, did I even like this book?” All of the little issues that bugged me turn into much bigger issues that overtake my opinion. I don’t like when this happens because I really aim for my ratings to be based on initial gut reactions.
Normally when I start thinking about a book a LONG time after finishing it and writing the review, I see it with different eyes. Depending on the reaction to it, there are two different effects that happen for me.
The hindsight is 20-20 effect means that my initial thoughts have kind of cleared up and now I see what was actually wrong with them. For Dangerous Boys, I followed the hype of everyone else a bit too much. I honestly didn’t find the characterization of the main character as believable as other people did. I couldn’t stop reading and got caught up in the writing, but was kind of surprised by the end. Would all of those events really make someone go that crazy? Now I’m not so sure.
The other effect is the rose-colored glasses effect. When I look back, these books come out looking even better. Did I really only think Since You’ve Been Gone deserved 4 stars?! Morgan Matson is PERFECT. Why did I let the audiobook narrator mess the book up for me? C’mon, a book with Frank Porter deserves at least a million stars.