I’ve read ALOT of books lately, and when I read a ton, it makes me think about my ratings. Why? Because I have to do this rating thing on Goodreads, and give it some stars. And probably write a coherent sounding review explaining why or why not it is has 5 or so stars.
Figuring out ratings is HARD work. It might make my head hurt sometimes. and make me ignore opening Goodreads until I need to write a wrap-up, and have to sort out my monthly reads. Or I just write a Review to Come in the rating spot and wait 6 months (or never) to actually write that review.
This isn’t a How-to-Blog post but reviewing and rating books is part of book blogging. SO, maybe it does fit into my how-to posts? I don’t know. We’ll see what you guys think!
What Automatically Takes Away Stars
First, there are always things that can force me to knock a rating down automatically. It might even make me DNF a book. Opps.
Bigotry or Racism
I tried to read an ARC in September that was just too biased. It was an Aladdin retelling and portrayed the Islamic culture in a horrible light. Not only was I unable to finish this ARC, but I gave it one star. (it was also terribly tropey, with incredibly flat character. But the racism and bigotry killed it for me.
me to writers who decide to be bigoted
Any hint of racism or bigotry will take away stars. It might make me rate it with an angry one star. lesson to writers – don’t be horrible people.
This can be hard to explain but I will try. If a character is just terrible – misogynist or racist, and they just get away with it, that makes me mad.
I will take away stars. People can have prejudices, but it’s important that characters grow. Don’t let it just happen in a story without some sort of consequence.
Example of a character who grows from their prejudice – Mr. Darcy. (you knew I was going to use him, right???) Anyway, Darcy is kind of terrible. He insults the Bennetts and looks down his nose at anyone who happens to not have money. (that’s like everyone, right?)
But by the end of the story, he’s totally realized how bad he is. He listens to Lizzy, and befriends her dad. He tries to be nice to her mom. He apologizes for being an awful jerk. And he even goes out of his way to help people that he would have normally just ignored.
I mean, just look how earnest he is? #adorable
Some other characters who improve and grow that I just LOVE
Emma from Emma 🙂 (I just love my Austen people)
Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices
Monty from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Carswell Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles
Helene from A Ember in the Ashes series
Using Pain Lightly
Life is hard. I don’t expect books to be clean or perfect. But I don’t want to read stories where pain is used trivially. People do go through horrible, horrible things. 1 in 3 women are assaulted. Genocide is a cruel part of history. Trans kids are kicked out of their homes. Systematic racism hurts people of color.
We don’t need to sugarcoat pain but when a writer uses pain as just as tool and makes it tropey, ugh, I just can’t.
When people of color are killed on page to motivate a white character to act, I want to throw the book across the room. When a woman is raped, just to give her a more powerful voice, I want to scream. People’s pain should not be used just to motivate characters who come from privilege.
Books should elevate the voices of those who are personally affected by pain. People’s pain should not be stolen and used to further your own story.
me, to writers using the white savior narrative
I am criticizing the white savior complex in stories. Stories that I have read – the Nazi prison commander who feels bad for the beautiful Jewish woman and feels guilty for killing people. Um, what? Stories of colonizers feeling guilty and trying to save the colonized. Um, what??? Fictional Stories of white people intervening and saving the lives of people of color. Um, what????
Yes, there have been people in power throughout history who have stood up for the oppressed. But as often as there was a person of privilege acting, there were also the oppressed fighting for themselves. Too often, we ignore their stories for stories of the privileged savior. Maybe because it makes us – I speak of the privileged – feel better.
When I read a writer who consistently uses the white savior narrative in their books, it turns me away. I will either not continue reading their work, or I will give it lower ratings.
Alright, those are really negative reasons I give books lower ratings?
And those reasons are kind of ranty? Opps, I didn’t mean to rant. Whelp. Here’s some other reasons, that aren’t so harsh, that make me lower ratings.
If I read an entire book, I better connect with the character. But sometimes, I just don’t. Maybe I can figure out why – their personality, the writing, a tropey character.
Or maybe I can’t figure out why.
I just know that I don’t connect with this character. I don’t understand the decisions they make. Or worse, I honestly don’t care if they live or die.
That’s reaaalllllylyyy bad. If this character died, and I just shrugged, this is bad news for this book. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Readers should connect with characters! I want to see myself as this character or their friend, or something. And if I just can’t, the book will loose a star.
How I might treat some book characters
World Building, or Weird History, or I Don’t Get It
This is the most intensively weird part of ratings. Because some people can love a book world, and other people just don’t. It’s very much up to you.
And I love world building. So if a book is just missing it, and the history just isn’t working, I am very annoyed. To me, it’s a sign of lazy writing/editing/lack of question asking.
For example, a book I recently read was set in the Roman Republic. But it had the Caesars? And the historical figure lived before a certain roman family took control of Rome? And yet I’m supposed to believe this guy lived at the same time in this book world? Also that volcano erupted nearly 200 years after this historical figure died?
OKAY, the history in Blood and Sand just DID NOT MAKE SENSE. Sorry, #notsorry. I’m a history nerd. if it’s weird history and leaves me VERY confused, the book looses stars. That’s just how the game is played.
Ahem, yes, me and history are double checking every book that has any sort in it. #historynerd
Tropes, Rushed Plot, Unfinished, TERRIBLE CLIFFHANGERS
I’m going to put this all under the same category, because I’VE ALRADY WRITTEN SO MANY WORDS IN THIS POST. Sorry, guys, I didn’t realize I had so much to say about rating books?
Just be advised against writing tropes – because that makes me throw out a star or two. If I can guess the plot, BAD. Sorry, but don’t make ANYTHING predictable. We, I mean readers, love the unpredictable cool plot twists. (right, readers?)
Also, in a hurry to finish that manuscript? Don’t rush it! I don’t want to feel like I’m running to get to the end of this book. NOR do I want the book to feel unfinished, like you’ve skipped over certain details and plots to FINISH IT UP ALREADY.
And be careful of cliffhangers. A certain book, ahem, Lord of Shadows, might have had too big of a cliffhanger. Sorry, but too much of a cliffhanger can lower a star rating. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Well, guys that a LOT OF INFO about my star ratings. Maybe too much? I don’t know, but I had NO IDEA what to publish this weekend. Because school has been HOMEWORK, HOMEWORK, HOMEWORK, and I had no time to draft something this week.
So, I had this title drafted. And lo and behold, I was able to write this in less than half an hour? Maybe because figuring out star rating is HARD work, so I had lots of opinions on the subjects. hehehehehehe.
Do you struggle figuring out giving out stars to books? What makes you automatically drop stars? Do you think some cliffhangers can be TOO much? What’s something personal to you that writers do that just ANNOYS you to no end? (for me, it’s probably weird history)