Do you like my graphic? There was no literal way to represent the topic, so I went with a visual metaphor, which is pretty fitting considering my blog name ;-) but I digress.
I admit that I am notoriously stingy when it comes to giving out 5 star ratings for books.
Well, notorious may have been a bit of an exaggeration as I’m not exactly famous and most of you probably didn’t even know that about me, but that’s not the point.
I’m surprised people even send me their books when they see how few books have gotten 5 stars from me. I mean, I expect 5 star books to be damn near perfect. Getting 5 stars is an honor.
But I’m starting to wonder if I’m being too harsh. So, as per usual when I’m unsure about something, I turn to you all to get your thoughts and opinions on the matter. Now let us discuss!
As I mentioned, I set very high standards for 5 stars. I expect the book to do everything right with only very minor flaws, and I expect it to live up to all my personal preferences. And I feel that’s fair, to only give 5 stars to books that meet my personal preferences. Ratings are subjective, and I think my ratings should in fact show what I personally like because that ultimately helps other people figure out whether the book is right for them. So that’s not my concern here.
What I’m wondering is, what about those books that aren’t perfect in execution, but I just freaking love them anyway?
It’s not like I have a strict rating system, I literally rate books based on how they feel. That one feels like 3 stars. This one feels like 4.5 stars. And my feeling is always a combination of both how well I think the book was written by somewhat objective standards and how much I enjoyed it. I don’t average out scores for plot and characters or anything like that. So if I wanna start giving books 5 stars based purely on how much I enjoyed them, I easily could.
But I still feel conflicted.
One of the problems for me is that I’m a strong believer that series are more than the sum of their parts. That’s why I love them so much. Each book builds on the previous one to make something greater. But each book in a series gets rated individually. And so I rate each one based on how solid the plot for that particular book was, how deep the characters were, how much sense everything made, etc., regardless of how much I loved the previous books. I’m not one of those people who automatically gives high ratings to later books in a series. And if there are cliffhangers that come before everything gets wrapped up, questions are left unanswered for that particular book, etc., I feel like I can’t in good conscience give that 5 stars. But what should I do when individually each book is 3.5 or 4 or 4.5 stars, but altogether it’s one of my absolute favorite series and I reread it over and over and I can never stop thinking about it because that’s how strongly it has impacted me and collectively it’s like 10 stars in my mind?!
On the one hand, it seems like the books that we love the most and can’t get enough of deserve 5 stars, that any flaws they have are overshadowed by how enjoyable or memorable or impactful they are overall. But on the other hand, it seems like giving those books 5 stars would diminish the effect for the books that really did do everything perfect.
Maybe those types of books deserve 4.5 stars instead? That way they would get credit for being amazing, since 4.5 is a great rating, but the absolute perfect score still gets reserved for the absolute perfect books? (And for me, they’d still get a 5 star rating on Amazon and Goodreads since I round up.)
*sigh* This post is probably a little all over the place, but I really don’t know how I feel about this!