I’ve really been thinking about my rating system here on My Friends Are Fiction. I don’t have a hard set rule that I follow to rate books but do it on a mixture of emotional impact and the skill of the writing. The longer I blog though the more I realize that sometimes this doesn’t work for me. I’ve read some books that though I didn’t enjoy them (due to the subject matter most often times) I can see that they are beautifully constructed. I’ve struggled on how to rate these books.
I asked Twitter -when rating books do you base it more towards your personal enjoyment or how well the book is written/constructed?. I loved the comments I received:
I had more comments but you get the point that from my non-scientific gathering of information most bloggers tend to rate using both their emotional connection and how the book is constructed and executed. I completely agree that if a book is poorly written it is very difficult for it to be an enjoyable experience. But, what about the books that are written beautifully but for some reason you fail to connect to the story-line? Maybe it’s because you can’t get behind the main character or the story line is something that personally turns you off as a reader…how do you rate it when you know that it is a good book but you just didn’t enjoy it?
Here are two examples of this from my own blogging experience. Because of the advanced hype and that eerie cover, I requested Gated by Amy Christine Parker. I read it and knew while reading that it was beautifully constructed and that Parker was a very skilled writer and story teller. Her research into cults was evident and I respected her for embarking on the topic. For me, I had such a hard time while reading it. I have a young son so the mother-daughter interactions really bothered me and I could not say that I enjoyed my actual reading experience. I was at a complete loss as to how to rate this book. I ended up leaving it unrated because I was so confused at the time.
Another, more recent example, is Red Rising by Pierce Brown. While I was reading I was swept away in the brutality of the society and world he created. I loved his vivid details and heart stopping action. But, I was very much bogged down as I read through the lengthy middle section that dealt with a lot of military strategy and was filled with violence (though tastefully done–for the most part). I was able to decide on a rating much easier for this book and ended up giving it four stars though a large portion was not enjoyable to me, personally. I came to this rating after much debating on my part. I felt it deserved it because of the amount of time I spent thinking of the story, that I never once considered DNFing and my curiosity of the next book. Also, I was very impressed with Brown’s writing.
Sadly, I barely had any readers respond to my query. I was very interested in learning what they look for when they are trying to decide on a book to read. Of course, the star rating is only the jumping off (or concluding) factor of a review. What we write about the book and the details we use to express our views is the most important aspect.
I’d like to hear from you as either readers or bloggers (or both) how do you rate when reviewing? How does the rating effect your reading of a review or your impression of the book?