Discussion: Are You Review Ratings Objective or Subjective?

Discussion-Post-5

The review rating is something that still flummoxes me. Most books I’ve read thankfully falls into rather black/white category: I either love them or I don’t. BUT! There are times when I read a book where I can appreciate that the quality of the writing is great, though my heart is just not in it.  Do I rate it a 5? Or a 3?  On the other side of the spectrum, there are books I know to be middling in quality, but I still read the heck out of it and lapped up every word like candy!  So do I give it a perfect score?  Or do I recognise it’s flaws and drop a star?

What do I do to stay true to my audience?  I have so many questions and uncertainties!  So today I break down the factors that influences my final rating.

Discussion-Post-Objective

When the quality is undeniable, but I can’t muster enough enthusiasm!

  • Solid Research:  A book that shows detailed research, especially in terms of worldbuilding, always get a big plus from me.  E.g. The Martian had excellent applications of chemistry and physics that were approved by an actual astronaut.  However, while I always admire a well-researched book, this alone isn’t enough to win me over.  I got a little bit bored by The Martian due to lack of character development.
  • Beautiful Proses:  I am personally a sucker for lyrical proses that verges on being purple, any books that promises such in the first few pages will be purchased promptly!  Luscious proses are not enough, though!  I need to have an engaging plot and relatable characters.  E.g. Magonia, I really loved the proses, but the narrators left me a little cold.
  • Dedicated Worldbuilding:  Now I am a fantasy fan so I go gaga over tightly woven worlds and fully realised fantasy lands.  But if attempting to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy has taught me anything – it’s that I have the attention of a gnat and all of the worldbuilding in the world (Mixed races! Religions!  All the different Ages!  Languages!  A novel length appendix!) etc.. isn’t enough to captivate me.  Sorry, but I will be blasphemous here and say I preferred the movies.  A more recent example is Ink and Bone, whose world I loved but I had trouble slogging through the character drama.
  • Dramatic Potential:  The book and its premise has the potential to be so much more, fooling me into thinking I should love it more than I should.  Here I referred to all of the half-baked fantasy or scifi world that litters YA, the blurb says one thing – and I got a watered down version of the description.  However, I can’t help but hold onto hope and ultimately credit the original idea in my reviews.

Discussion-Post-5-Subjective

These are factors that overwhelmingly sways my bookish ~feelings~

  • SHIPPING!  I am an eternal fangirl and books featuring relationships I root for makes me want to push for five stars every time, regardless of my opinion on the rest of the series.  E.g. The Darkest Power series by Kelley Armstrong, I loved the main couple something fierce – so while the plot was messy, IDGAF and was left clamouring for the sequel every time.  I am sure this is something a lot of Urban Fantasy fans can relate to…
    I also read most of the Bleach manga because I loved Ichigo/Rukia so much, even when the series descended into a freaking wailing, screaming mess.
  • Friendly, Sparkly Authors:  This is horrible because it’s not book related at all – but when I have encountered an author on twitter and they are extraordinarily gracious and sweet, it makes me want to love their books.  Of course, life is cruel and often times I find myself lukewarm about the books… AWKWARD.  I try not let this influence my reviews but y’all, it is tough.
  • Book Genre:  I find that I tend to rate books of non-fantasy/scifi genre more positively, purely because of my limited exposure to them – like what am I even comparing it to?  Reviewing contemporary is hard because I don’t have my standard measuring sticks:  world building, magic systems, grandiose plots etc… to judge it by.  So when a contemporary gives me the feels, I give it a good rating.  I MUST DO BETTER, TBH.
  • Mood:  Though I strive to be objective and truthful to my readers, there are times when I am in an extraordinarily good mood and every thing I read fail to raise my ire.  Then there are times when I am cranky, and I judge a book way more severely than I should (sorry, Under The Empyrean Sky).  Am I the only one this happens to?  Please tell me I’m not!

There are plenty of books that I love both for subjective and objective reasons, of course, they are my 5 stars 😀

So… that turned out super rambly!  But please let me know if you guys have any factors that influences the way you ultimately rate and review!  Or am I just a lone weirdo?

70 thoughts on “Discussion: Are You Review Ratings Objective or Subjective?

      • Oh believe me I am usually in bed by 10pm so it’s definitely a feat if that happens. I really enjoyed this post 🙂 I used to be influenced by other people’s reviews too, especially if they were extremely positive but then if I didn’t enjoy a book for whatever reason be it, I would feel let down. So I stopped doing it and just read them after 🙂

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      • Same! I used to be so influenced by the top 5 or so Goodread reviews of each book. Now I realise I rarely share the same opinion as those reviewers so I have to learn to think for myself now 😉

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  1. Aentee, please give me your beautiful mind??

    Seriously, I love this post. This is something that really stumped me when it came to reviewing Red Queen. I LOVED IT (not even sure why), but I knew it wasn’t that fantastic writing-wise. Still, I went with unashamedly loving it in the end. c:

    But oh gosh mood plays such a big part in it. I think I’m very intuitive when it comes to reviewing, and then I just base all my thoughts and critique based on that. 😛

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    • HAHA NOOO! You are way too smart, you need to keep pumping out those beautiful and thoughtful reviews so we CANNOT D:

      I know right! Red Rising definitely confused me as well – like I knew the themes and messages were really hamfisted and Pierce Brown treated me like a goddamn goldfish with the way he had to stress on the message of *oppression* and *civilisation* every other paragraph… But I didn’t care, still ate it up with a spoon haha.

      Haha same, I try not to read when I am in a bad mood, a good many pages have suffered 😄

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      • Oh gosh NOOOO my eloquence comes like once a month, HAHA. But you’re chugging out these incredible posts weekly. How?! Halp Aentee. ;W;

        HAHA YES! I mean, I loved the themes, but subtlety was definitely not a strong point there, and I wish it was, esp since it turned a lot of people off from an otherwise really good book.

        ME TOO. Or when I am tired. I think I probably read 85% of Crime and Punishment with a conscious mind.

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      • I 100% just make a load of random graphics first and pick them out when I have enough rambly things for a post haha. You should do this with your drawings 😉

        Lmao the latest book I finished, I slept most of my way through – so I know your pain. Can’t decide whether it was boring or if it was me being moody lol.

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  2. I love this discussion topic!! My ratings can be affected by the themes of the book. For example, groundbreaking books that tackle prejudice or homophobia will get a higher rating from me just because they give me the feels and I think it’s important for people to read them. And I also sometimes feel kind of awkward giving these “important” books a low rating, if you get what I mean.

    My rating of More Happy Than Not (4.5 stars) was probably a little bit inflated. I didn’t enjoy the characters or the romance. I thought the first third of the book was boring. But it gave me so many feels and affected me so much at the end that I felt like I had to give it 5 stars. Ended up taking half a star off, but if I think about it objectively… it should’ve been a 2.5 or 3.

    And I agree with you about shipping and fandoms. E.g. Cassie Clare’s Mortal Instruments books. I definitely thought CoG and CoHF were 5 star books but some of the other ones were just okay but I think I rated them higher than I should’ve because I love the world and all the characters.

    This is getting very long… but I also agree with your point about mood. I don’t get into major reading slumps but sometimes I don’t really feel like reading but force myself to. And that’s when I’m hypercritical about everything.

    Okay Jenna, shut up.

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    • No Jenna, never shut up haha!

      You make an excellent point about the books that highlight diversity. Whenever I read a fantasy that takes place in non Western locations, or read books that features intersectionality, especially when it’s done in a respectful way – I feel compelled to sing the book’s praises even if it wasn’t 100% my kind of thing. I really need to read More Happy Than Not, though – maybe on my next payday – I’ve bought way too many books lately.

      Fandoms is a huge draw for me. I wasn’t that enarmoured with ACOTAR at first, but the more I read of people fangirling about it – the more I like the book haha. Love and enthusiasm is infectious.. OR I am susceptible to hive minded thinking hehe.

      Yes! Sometimes I feel the dreaded reading slump and I force myself to read anyway because of blogging (terrible I know, that’s another discussion post altogether) – and I feel bad for the book bc I feel objectively I would have enjoyed it on a different date.

      Thanks for sharing your insights ❤

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  3. I’m definitely a harsher rater than most blogs I see. I think I tend to rate more on plot, writing, and character development. Enjoyment plays a factor, but if I really enjoyed a book, but had a problem with one of those other three areas, I’ll rate it closer to a 3 than a 4. I have yet to give out a 5 star rating since I started blogging. To me that means basically perfection. Interesting topic!

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    • Ooo, I personally think I need to be more harsh, I’ve yet to give a book below 1 star on this blog, most of my reads are 3-5 stars — I think it’s because I rate from enjoyment and I tend to stay away from books I know I’ll dislike. I will be waiting to see what your first 5 stars book will be!

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  4. This is precisely why I don’t give 1 or 5 star ratings; well, I do, but they’re not actually polar extremes (perhaps 1.5 or 4.5, for example). This is largely reflective of my feelings that no book is perfect or garbage. They’re all somewhere in-between and telling a [someone’s] story.

    Though I won’t lie in saying that when I started this whole reviewing business, I had no clue what merited what. It’s getting better though.

    A lot of it really depends on the story itself. Is world building as important in a contemporary? Probably not as much but there still is shades of realism necessary to pull of what’s being sold.

    So many reviews are always “omg this ship; omg new book boyfriend” and it always seems to me (I don’t know if it’s true) that ratings are inflated because of it. To each their own, I guess.

    You hit on a key point regarding contemporaries. Focusing on diverse reads, I think it’s pretty difficult to say that “x book didn’t work because [reasons]” without sounding like a douche and being phobic to a niche human quality. I won’t name any titles in particular, but if you do a general sweep of diverse reads, it’s all mostly positive. I get that exposure is good–great, even–but thematic purpose eclipsing all else in writing is a bit of a doozy to objectively (or subjectively) engage.

    I could probably keep writing an essay but I’ll stop here for both of our sakes…

    Cheers,
    Joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

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    • Yes, I had no idea what I was doing (and still have no idea tbqh) when I first started rating books. There are many I rate higher than I should, now that I reflect back. But my ardent hope is that no one ever goes and look up my old reviews because they were written so horribly.

      I am quite generous with my rating, I think if it’s enjoyable I still give it a 5 stars. But I have never really read a book that I felt was deserving of 2 or below stars since I began blogging — I guess it’s because I stay away from books I know I’ll dislike.

      The fandom factor and how much fangirling you can devote to the series definitely sways rating. Like, I don’t think that objectively ACOTAR or The Wrath and The Dawn are amazeballs, but many readers connect to it so there’s 5 stars galore.

      And yessss on the contemporary and diverse read. The ‘issues’ type book is so hard to review. I’ve seen people jump at each other’s throats on GR when they mark a contemporary book low because ‘they don’t understand how x-minority feels’. It makes me nervous, because while I want to support diversity, I also want to call a spade a spade and not have to tiptoe around a crap book.

      I would love to see your essay on this one day 😄

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  5. I really agree to almost all the things you have said. 🙂 sometimes things go unpleasant in the real world that it affects how I rate a good book. Sometimes the books are too engrossing that I cannot put it down so I rated it five. It really is a matter of perspective that affects a rating of a good book. 🙂

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    • I agree that at the end of the day, it’s really hard to be objective. I guess book reading for me is first and foremost a hobby, so I don’t mind being lead by my heart. I just felt that as a reviewer I owe my readers to me a bit more fair? Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I’m all about the heart! If I truly enjoy the book and have shipper feels and the book makes me want to re-read over and over again, then I love it. I wrote a post once on how I hesitate to call my reviews, “reviews” because I’m not exactly being critical of the writing etc… or analyzing the book. I just talk about how I “felt” throughout the story. I struggle with ratings too and have considered dropping them entirely but they also help me organize and it makes it easier for me to pick up favorite books of the year at the end of the year. I’m a very confusing human being.

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    • I completely understand where you are coming from because I am the same. Being critical does not come very naturally to me, I actually struggle with writing my reviews as a lot of the time, I just want to go THIS BOOK IS GREAT EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT IMMEDIATELY and leave it at that haha.

      Ratings annoy me so much, point system isn’t good enough but I find breaking it down to plot/character/etc like I’ve seen on other blog TOO MUCH WORK. Sigh. I will commiserate in confusion with you!

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  7. Great discussion posts. Character dev, writing, world building, and word structuring, in regards to whether this is awkwardly written or not.
    I also love friendly sparkly authors and although befriending an author would make it hard if I disliked their book, I would be honest in my review. I wouldn’t link them to it, I’d tell them the things I liked, and YAAY. FRIENDSHIP CONTINUES WITH NO AWKWARDNESS. So far, I have only one author that I liked that this happened to, and it was like AWKKKK. But, the other authors I have talked to, I loved their books so I guess I haven’t really experienced this issue yet! Wonderful post and graphics again, Aentee!

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  8. Eh, I typically use objective factors to hammer out a rating, then use my gut feeling to see if it agrees, and bump it around by a half-star until my conscience agrees. But I think subjective factors or even subconscious factors are as important as objective factors — I mean, writing a book isn’t checking off a list. There has to be some magic in the words, in the space between the words, and in the time after you close it and just go, “Wow. That was FABULOUS.” And if a book doesn’t do that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving it a lower rating even if it has all the objective factors nailed.

    Sparkly, lovely authors are also important. This goes doubly if the author started out as an online writer and I knew them before they started the road to publication. On the other hand, less-sparkly authors make me feel “ehhh, will I even like this?” before I so much as add it to my TBR.

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    • YES. That’s why while I respect the reviewers that can dedicatedly break their rating into categories (e.g. plot, character, writing etc…) and make an ultimate rating off that – I can’t do it because i) I’m lazy and ii) like you said, a book isn’t just a check list of all those things. I want to factor in how involved I was in the book!

      I can imagine how strong your connection must be to some author, being a writer yourself! I hope they are all producing splendiferous work you can sing praise about! And yes, I definitely stay away from books of authors I feel ambiguous about – life’s too short and there’s too many books to read as is 😄

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  9. Hi Aentee!
    First.
    “I also read most of the Bleach manga because I loved Ichigo/Rukia so much, even when the series descended into a freaking wailing, screaming mess.”
    I’ve always been interested in reading this but the latter part of this sentence is the primary reason that I haven’t… same thing with Naruto and Fairy Tail for that matter. I’ve always found that gif where they have the swords really cool though!
    This topic though. I’m gonna have to be with Chooi when it comes to you thinking of fabulous topics! I think as reviewers we all have this feeling but we don’t really talk about and I don’t get why!
    For me, I think that my review must justify my rating. But if my feelings get in the way I will definitely say it in the review! I’ll state the flaws and where I think the book could have been better but if I rate it higher just because I make sure to state why I thought I could overlook it and rate it higher. Reviews are, after all, based on our personal preference and we’re human. I don’t think it makes sense to only review a book based off of how good it is objectively. I don’t think it’d be fair if I gave a well-written book five stars even if I ended up hating it.
    I also think that the thing Joey said about diverse books getting higher reviews in general is a good point. There’s already a lack of diversity in YA so I suppose that giving them lower reviews would discourage their publication in some way.
    Can I just talk about the “meh” books? I don’t really have trouble deciding on a review for a book that is either really good or bad but I have the most trouble reviewing books that I would consider a 3 star book. Most times I’ll be able to say that the characters were good but the world building lacked but then there’s the time when EVERYTHING was just okay. And I can’t just say that everything was only “okay” because then my review would be like ten words long. I just hate it when my objective opinion is meh and my subjective opinion is even more meh because then WHAT DO I WRITE???
    Anyways, this is a great post and I think the level at which reviewers go to review a book, whether subjective or objective, is a very personal decision. As long as they can justify their rating, there isn’t anything wrong with giving it that score.

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    • I think Fairy Tail is fairly decent? It has tighter plotting than Bleach anyway? And my preferred pairings are all but confirmed, yay! I have not caught up in a long time, though.

      Yes, like you, I try and state when I know my reviews are skewed because of my feelings. I don’t mind too much about being 100% fair because, come on, it’s my blog, I can do what I want! Haha.

      The diversity thing is sooo hard. Just for writing well grounded, realistic diversity portrayal alone, I feel that the author deserves a good review… but sometimes I just can’t get into the book and it’s like, awkward! And I guess some part of me just wants to support them, I’d plug these books anyway, even if I wasn’t 100% on board as a reader? e.g. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon, which I rec on the basis that it’s a Chinese based fantasy that’s fairly well researched, it has a lot of weaknesses, but I am still fond of it because of the setting it’s based in.

      Meh books are the worst! I dread writing reviews for those, sometimes they are so forgettable I basically don’t know what to say by the time I open up my Word document. A book blogger’s worst nightmare is having no opinion on a book lmao. I highlight a shit ton of quotes whenever I read to avoid this problem 😄

      Thanks for sharing your insight ❤

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  10. I love this discussion! My ratings have been between 3-5. Maybe I’m too much of a softie, or maybe I just have a knack for picking good books; either way, I haven’t read anything this year that I thought warranted a 1 or 2 rating.
    I look for a plot that flows smoothly, well-developed characters, and engaging prose. I am first to admit, however, that the emotional impact a book has on me is the most important factor. As I said in a comment on my blog recently, I think with my heart. If my heart doesn’t get inspired, moved, or shaken up in some way, then a book is probably going to get a lower rating. Still, good writing plays a big part in this. I don’t think you can get too emotionally involved in a story if the grammar is atrocious or the plot is nonsensical.
    I wanted to add that I don’t look at a 5-star rating as a statement of a book being perfect. I don’t think anything can be perfect, so I don’t see the point in having a star rating devoted solely to something unattainable. For me, a 5-star book is one that had a well-crafted story, beautiful writing, and truly moved me. These are the books that I find myself thinking about long after I read the last page. They are the ones that will always have a place on my bookshelves.

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    • Me too, Erin! I feel that I have an inordinately high amount of good review and ratings, but I attribute that in my preference in only reading books I am super excited about! I also feel that I might be a bit too nice in my reviews, I find it hard to be very critical tbh, I’m more a reader rather than an analyser of books.

      Well, if a book has ‘well crafted story, beautifull writing and moving’ there’s no reasons why it can’t have 5 stars. Whatever ratings are, as long as we explain it, I think it’s more than valid 😀

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      • My reviews have been very positive so far, but I’ve only done a handful. I just haven’t read a bad book in the very short time I’ve been writing reviews. Like you, I think I have a solid idea of what books I want to read so that’s a big help.

        I think the lowest rating I’ve given a book so far is a 2. It was for The Crying of Lot 49, a book I was forced to read for a class about a year ago. Just thinking about it makes my head hurt!

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  11. If a book is engaging enough with great characters then I’m definitely going to give it a high rating regardless of the poor world building and simple writing style but I couldn’t handle books with too much grammatical mistakes.Great Post! 😀

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  12. Hmm, I still think all book ratings are subjective. Sure, those aspects you mentioned can be more objective, but it happened to me once that I read a book and I thought the world building was fantastic, while another friend felt there were no explanations. It’s really a matter of perception and subjectivity. Great post!

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    • This is sooo true Vane, there’s so many times where I find myself waxing lyrical over an author’s writing, then I find that many others find the same writing to purpley (totes just made up that word there). So at the end of it, it’s all varying degree of subjectivity, it’s way too hard to ask all of us thinking, feeling humans to be 100% objective!

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  13. Great post! I’ve had this problem with the Georgia Nicholson series. I read the first two (haven’t finished yet) in one sitting and highly enjoyed them, so I’d give 5 stars for entertainment, but that felt unfair to the other books I had given 5 stars, that were much better written, thus I gave them 3 stars.

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    • I know exactly what you mean, some of my 3 stars rated books such as The Wrath and The Dawn, I’ve actually derived more enjoyment from than some of my 4 rated books – but I marked them down due to inconsistencies. I still don’t know whether I should go with my feelings or with assessing everything in details, but I guess as long as we mention our biases in the review, it doesn’t really matter in the end haha.

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  14. My ratings are SO subjective, no matter how much I try to be aware of it. I often look back at a rating months (or even days) later and inwardly cringe, wondering how I could possibly have rated a book so high.

    For me, contemporary books are almost always about the feels. I rate books immediately after finishing them, and no matter how objective I try to be, if I’m sitting there will a silly grin on my face and my heart feels like it might burst, that books is getting 5 stars (plots holes, sloppy writing, cheesiness, etc. aside). On the other hand, fantasy is (often) less about the feels and more about the world, plot, characters, etc. As a result, even though I consider fantasy my favorite genre, I’m sure I have far fewer 5-star fantasies than contemporaries. It doesn’t completely make sense, even to me, but there you go.

    The unreliability of rating is partly why I have a “favorites” shelf. I have loads of 5-star books, but only 80 or so make it to the elite. Most of them I’ve read multiple times (which gives their rating more value), but sometimes I just *know* immediately that a book is a favorite. It would probably make more sense to reserve 5 stars for my favorites, but it’s already waaay too late for that!

    Oh, my mood DEFINITELY affects my ratings, both favorably and negatively. You’re not alone. 🙂

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    • I usually get very swayed by my feelings too, Maraia, so I completely hear you! For contemporary books, if they’ve made me laugh or cry or both, I am more than happy enough to award it a 5 stars – since at the end of it, I think contemporary is meant to touch and be relatable. Like you, I tend to judge fantasy a bit harsher even though it’s my favourite genre. I think it’s because I am so familiar with it, I know exactly what I’m looking for, so it makes me a better critic.

      Yay, glad to hear that there’s plenty of other ‘mood readers’ out there 😄 I was starting to feel bad for being so biased!

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    • It does get easier with the more books you review though, so it’s only onwards and upwards for us from here 😀

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  15. Great post Aentee! I base my ratings both subjectively and objectively but if I have more emotional attachment, I’ll usually bump it up a star. But usually my objective rating goes hand in hand with my subjective rating because I think that if an author writes the story well then it’s more likely that it will stir an emotional reaction from me. But I consider myself a really harsh critic lol. Rarely does a book get a 5 star from me and if it does, it’s more than likely a favorite. Most books fall into the 3 or 4 category for me and I like to think that I’ve now stayed clear from books that I’ll most likely give less than a 3 star.

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    • One extra star for emotional connection is a great way to do it! Any book that touches me is worthy of a good rating. I wish I could be more of a critic, it does not come naturally to me, so you must teach me your ways, Carolyn!

      I hardly ever award less than a 3 stars myself ! like you, it’s because I don’t gravitate towards titles that I know would annoy me!

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      • haha I think you do a good job critiquing on your own 🙂 I’m just really interested in literary criticism so I guess it comes from that. I also feel like if I based everything on my emotional rating, I’m just giving a biased review.

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  16. It is so hard for me to give a low rating to a book! Sometimes I feel like I’m not critical enough to even begin writing a review. If I could give every book a 5 star I would but then people wouldn’t trust my taste in books or my thoughts and opinions.
    I’m the opposite when it comes to fantasy/sci-fi to contemporary novels. Because I’m a huge fantasy nerd I tend to rate contemporaries at a much lower spectrum because I’m never wowed enough, but I can’t find the faults. I mean it’s not the contemporary’s fault that there is no magic or castles and dragons etc. I think I only have one contemporary that received 5 stars from me.
    Anyways, I try to be critical but I have a lot of trouble doing so.

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    • Yes, it’s so hard to balance having trustworthy opinion and suppressing my inner fangirl and just heap praise on everything. I see, it makes sense that you’ll be less dazzled by a genre you aren’t as familiar with like contemporary. I just find that I’m a better critic of fantasy because I’ve read more 🙂

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  17. I rate VERY subjectively. IT’S ALL IN THE FEELS. But then. Well, things like epic, tight world building or beautiful prose gets me. Like Maggie Stiefvater’s books, for instance. She manages to get a) shippable characters, b) adorable characters, c) tight worlds, d) incredibly beautiful and visual writing, and e) SO MANY FEELS. 5-STARS ALL THE WAY.
    I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I’M FLAILING ABOUT STIEVATER. BUT I JUST AM. I AM IN THIS MOOD RIGHT NOW.
    *flails*
    I never thought about objective vs subjective before though, so this was super interesting! 😀

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    • I love reviews that are subjective though – I feel they are a lot more fun for me to read than analytical pieces, though those are good when I’m in the mood, too! YOUR LOVE FOR MAGGIE STIEFVATER PLEASES ME GREATLY ❤

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  18. YES!!!! So many times I have been writing a book review of an amazing book with five star characters and five star writing but then got to the rating and not wanted to give it 5 for some unexplainable reason. There the books that are really good then there’s the books that you LOVE. I don’t think there’s a formula for that, it’s just each person’s experience. Ratings, I think, should be a reflection of how much you enjoyed the book not a judgement of literary merit! AWESOME discussion ❤

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    • I personally prefer reading reviews that are a bit more subjective in bent, I prefer reviewers who tells me about their feelings and how they relate to the book! But it’s a hard subject, as you still want everyone to trust your opinion rather than write you off as a raving fangirl haha.

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  19. My star rating is definitely more subjective! I go with my gut with that one. My written review on the other hand, is more objective. It’s where I talk about why I gave the rating I did, but also talk about what I thought the book did well even if whatever it was didn’t work for me personally.

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    • I think your reviews always has a nice balance between critique and praise, I really enjoy reading them! You’ve achieved the perfect book reviewing enlightenment and you must teach me your ways!

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  20. All reading is a subjective experience–we all view what we read through the lenses of our own experiences, opinions, beliefs, personalities, etc. Which means that even “objective” categories like writing style, world building, etc. are subject to personal tastes and opinions. All that aside, I rate a book based on how much I liked or disliked it. But more important than its rating is the review; that’s where I really dig into why I liked or disliked something, which gives readers a chance to respond based on their subjective criteria and decide whether they want to read it. 🙂

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    • I agree that at the end of the day, since we are all breathing, feeling humans instead of robots – all our opinions are somewhat subjective. E.g. a group of fan can love a character that many others find bland and boring e.g. every instance of popular series ever. I do think that the most important thing at the end of it is to explain your reasoning and why something did or didn’t work for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kel!

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  21. I’ve always rated purely by heart and entertainment purposes, rather than execution. I figure I leave that kind of critique to the professional reviewers. Lyrical prose is a big favourite of mine too, I adore it and will buy anything that promises beautiful writing, even if the premise isn’t usually my thing. There have been a few books that I hated where I’ve gone onto review and been really critical, but again that’s based on me not enjoying them. I give a book until half way, if I’m not into it, I toss it and don’t bother reviewing. That’s mainly why you only ever see higher ratings on my blog, anything less and I just don’t have time to indulge. Great topic Aentee, really interested to see how others have felt too ❤

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    • I also prefer reading reviews that are more subjective, as the sense of knowing the blogger behind the review is important to me! Otherwise, I’d just be sitting around on goodreads or reading professional reviews, like you said! I don’t really DNF books, but I should try and follow suit! No wonder all of the books on your blog usually sound so wonderful 😀 The response to this topic has been great, all my commenters (like your gorgeous self) are far more intelligent than I, haha ❤ ❤

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  22. I don’t think there can ever be a truly objective rating. A reviewer can try to make a rubric, like in school, to try to keep ratings uniform, but even that can be subjective. For me, I use my review as evidence for my rating. My hope is that the reader will decide whether or not my rating is justified (worthy of the book) based on how I explain myself and/or if I get stuck on one point.
    Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way for external forces not to affect a rating.

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  23. MY GOSH. This is fantastic. When I thought your discussions couldn’t get any better… you have wowed us once again. I pretty much agree with all your points. It’s hard to find the balance and I admit the subjective side takes over at times. It is just so hard!

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  24. I also feel like some of these can be subjective too, like even the objective ones you mentioned. Just because maybe for a contemporary reader the world-building in a fantasy is enough to rate it highly, but for someone who’s read tons of fantasy, the world-building has to be perfect.

    And you’re NOT the only person that reviews based on mood. Like if I’m having a tough time it will probably affect my rating. OH OH I also kind of rate books based on how my friends liked it. Like I don’t want to disappoint them if they rec me a book!

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  25. World building is one of my favourite things, especially when it’s done well and convincingly that I will rate a book highly. Flowery prose, drama, and research are all things that can influence the rating of a book, but they aren’t high on my list. What’s high on my list is character development, twists and turns, convincing world building and a book that focuses on the plot (rather than romance, etc.). Subjectively…yes I can say mood does affect me at times! I’m actually the opposite with contemporary, I’ve read SO MANY of them now it’s hard to rate them highly. This is such a fantastic post Aentee!

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  26. This entire list is spot-on with me, especially the author one. I don’t interact with authors THAT much, but when I do and they’re so sweet and nice, I feel kinda guilty when I don’t LOVE LOVE LOVE their books. It’s like a friend wearing an outfit they LOVE but you think looks sorta weird on them. ._.

    Beautiful prose can make me fall in love with a book instantly. To be honest I have a hard time reading books that have awkward prose even if they’ve written it that way purposely, because I love myself some purple prose.

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  27. I have a tough time with reviews a lot of the time because of the factors you mentioned above. Usually the objective ones more than the subjective though. I sometimes find myself so captivated by the worldbuilding and beautiful prose that I do not realize that the plot or characters could have been further developed… And sometimes the prose is so beautiful that I completely disregard the fact that the research is lacking and barely contributed to the worldbuilding in the way it should have. I honestly do not believe that I have had this problem too much, but I’ve read others’ reviews of the same books before and they often seem to point out flaws that I somehow miss when reading. Maybe they’re just pickier (or I’m just less strict), but sometimes it is really hard to determine whether your opinion of the book is clouded because you were so enraptured by a certain element of the book that you disregarded other important elements that may or may not have been lacking. Absolutely fantastic post, Aentee!!!

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  28. this is such a wonderful discussion and post! it seriously got me thinking about how i review my books… mostly subjective ahah. i’ll try to be more objective, but i realized i’m more of an emotional person and base my thoughts and opinions mostly on how i feel as opposed to what’s logical. oops. i really really love this post!! xox

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