I have spent a lot of time thinking about book reviews after some of the discussions I’ve had recently. I’ve decided to change the way I rate the books I review to try and give a more comprehensive and less subjective review.
Instead of giving a singular, overall star rating, I’m going to rate different areas on a 1 to 5 star scale and combine them for an overall total star point average, an SPA, for the book as a whole. I’ve seen a few other bloggers do something similar and I’ve liked how it gives a bigger picture as to how that rating was decided. There are a lot of times where I struggle to articulate what I liked or didn’t like about a book and then how I should rate the book in the end. I’m hoping this makes the whole process a little bit easier and more consistent.
There are several areas I’m considering using for the base of my averages. Knowing how I work, I’m very likely to modify, change, or update them as I try out this new system and I discover how easy it is to actually use. I may not even choose to use every area for every book because some genres have other areas worth evaluating.
Cover: Is the cover unique? Did it match the book? Did it grab my attention? As an artist, cover art plays a huge role in what books I choose as a reader.
Personal Opinion: This would be how I felt about the book in general, more along the lines of my emotional response to the book as a whole.
Characters: How well were the characters written? Were they likeable or relatable?
Plot/Themes: Did the author have a fully developed plot/themes? Were there any threads left unfinished?
Uniqueness Factor: I particularly like it when an author gives me a story that feels new and interesting or at least addresses something common in a different way or from a different perspective.
Problem Free/Editing: While this is an area that I really hate to harp on, it is also one of the things that will yank me out of a story faster than just about anything. Timeline screw ups, an abundance of or consistent grammatical mistakes, inconsistencies in character histories and any other issue that should have been caught with a good editing process. The cleaner a book, the higher rating this area is going to get.
World Building: This is one of those areas that I can see applying more towards fantasy and paranormal than most anything else, but isn’t exclusive to those genres. It is just a lot more critical to them than a contemporary novel. I look for uniqueness, believably and level of detail in this area.
Peeve Factor: Not sure how much this will get used, but I’m tossing it in there because I know I have a lot of pet peeves when it comes to books. There are times where a book will smash that peeve button over and over again, but still be a pretty good book. Others never even come close to any of my peeves. The higher star rating will go to books that are less likely to touch on one of my peeve areas with a very low rating being for the books that tried to break the damn button.
Believably: Did the author convince me to believe their story? Fantasy novels have to make me believe in that world, that magic system and how things work. Contemporary novels have to make me feel like the story is possible, even if it seems outrageous. Basically, did they make their story work?
Blurb: Not sure if I will use this one for sure, but I’m putting it here as a place holder as there are times where the blurb is problematic. Either it doesn’t match at all to the book, it is misleading or it pretty much gives a plot away.
I’m hoping that my final averages still fall within my original overall star scale groupings. If not… well, I’ll deal with that when it comes.
I feel like I’m missing something obvious, so feel free to chime in and make suggestions. This just gives me a starting point to see what works and doesn’t.
All that and I get to use some fun new star graphics, too!