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.
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.
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?