Book Review Ratings

In the time I have been doing reviews I have come across a growing trend. Those who believe that books should only get 4 or 5 star ratings. This includes authors and blog book review sites who ask for an “honest review” of a 4 or 5 star rating. Anything lower and the reviewer is requested to contact the author, or site admin, prior to posting. Among the reasons why they want only 4 or 5 star ratings:

  • The overall rating of the book has to stay close to a 5
  • It is respectful of the author
  • Anyone who rates lower than a 4 has ulterior motives
  • Anything else has to be a fake review.
  • Nothing will ever be perfect
  • If you enjoyed the story it should get at least a 4

I understand that it takes time and energy to write a novel. And to the author the book has to be perfection, or at least near perfect. As such they would only want the highest rating possible. Especially from those on their advanced copy reader lists. However; it is hypocritical to ask for an honest review so long as it is a 4 or 5 star. This to me takes away from the “honest review” and casts a shadow on all star ratings.

Here are some of the things I look for in a novel:

  • Compelling plot. The story should draw me in within the first few pages.
  • Characters that are three dimensional, a bit flawed, realistic, and consistent.
  • Any facts are actual facts.

When it comes to reviews here are some of the items that cause me to lower a rating:

  • Lack of research: this can be any “fact” that is either a well known item that the author got wrong; or any “fact” that a simple internet search could clear up.
  • Technical issues: formatting, spacing, spelling, run-on sentences, grammar issues.
  • Character issues: consistency, point of view issues, too many characters.
  • Plot and sub-plot issues: too many different plots and sub-plots that a chart is needed.
  • Too much redundancy
  • Too much telling vs showing

If a novel earns a 4 or 5 star rating I give it that rating. If it has too many issues then I give it a lower rating.

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