The recent reviews I've posted got me thinking about the common method of rating books, movies or just about anything else: Star ratings.
What's funny about star ratings is that different sites can take the same star rating system but use each rating to mean different things. Take Amazon, for example. A three-star rating at Amazon means you think the book was OK and a two-star rating means you didn't like it. But go to Goodreads, and a three-star rating there means you liked the book while a two-star rating means it's OK. Neither site allows you to leave a "zero star" rating or indicate that you didn't finish the book for whatever reason (though you ma indicate as such in a review).
I could get into those people who used rating system on a scale of 1 to 4, or those who go with a 1 to 10 scale (though the latter types don't use stars -- maybe because they'd run out of room for a 10-star rating?), but I'll keep the focus on a five-star rating. Though I don't put up star ratings on my reviews and instead talk about what I like or didn't like about a book, I will give you my ideas of what a five-star rating system means to me, to include the "zero star" rating.
Five stars: Strong book overall. The strengths greatly outweigh the flaws. The characters are easily identifiable and the writing flows well.
Four stars: Great book overall. Strengths still outweigh the flaws, though the flaws are somewhat evident. But they don't take away from the overall quality of the book.
Three stars: Good book overall. Strengths outweigh the flaws, but the flaws are crucial ones. Improving those flaws would have made the book better, but it's still worth reading.
Two stars: Mediocre book overall. The flaws are greater than the strengths, though the strengths are easily identifiable. But it's not a book I would recommend.
One star: Weak book overall. Too many flaws that overwhelm what strengths there are. Take a pass on this book.
No stars: Didn't finish it. Flaws were so bad, they made me stop reading.
One's view of a star rating may differ, though. That's why I appreciate that most review sites explain their star ratings to people. But it's important for people to understand what reviewers consider when rating a book, rather than go into their own perceptions about what a star rating is.
It's also important to remember that some stories may not work for certain readers or reviewers. If somebody liked the concept of a book and somebody else didn't, the former person will give it a better rating than the latter. After all, people do take into account what appeals to them or what they are looking for the most when they review anything.
And that's where star ratings can sometimes be a problem. If people just look at the rating and don't take a deeper look at what reviwerers are saying or what they judge a book by, they aren't going to get the bigger picture about the book and whether or not it might appeal to them. Star ratings need to be looked at as one piece of information about a book, rather than the whole picture. And that's where the review itself comes in.
Even though I explained above what I consider a star rating to be, I'm not planning to put them up on my reviews here any time soon -- though sites like Amazon and Goodreads want you to do that, so I guess I'm stuck there!
Seriously, remember that what one person or site gives a star rating for may not be what another person or site may consider -- and that everyone looks for different aspects when considering which books appeal to them.