In this post, I will attempt to quantify the internal standard I have set when it comes to my personal review and rating of the books that I read.
An Important Note
First off, I think it is important to note that this is my personal measure for what constitutes a good book. The term ‘good’ is very subjective to the individual, hence my writing this post to break down the specific metrics. I like to believe I set a very high standard and the metrics you will see below are intended to quantify that standard.
This rating system *could apply to any genre, however for me personally, I tend to read fiction, specifically romance and fantasy, and my personal favorite, the wonderful mix of romance and fantasy. These metrics are geared toward those genres.
1: A five star rating is the gold standard in which all authors want to aim. Naturally, it will have the basic literary components that make up a plot such as a beginning, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution, told from a clear point of view/views from beginning to end.
2: This book will have a compelling, unique plot, one that grips the reader and urges them to keep turning the page to see what happens next. It will be unique, in that it will be something unlike anything they have read before. Not that certain, necessary literary devices won’t be applied, but that the way in which those devices are woven together will be different than all the rest of the books to which they have already been exposed.
3: This book will be written well with minimal to no grammatical errors at a reading level that is above average. The sentence structure flows smoothly, word choice varies, and dialogue is both realistic to the character and setting, as well as remains consistent throughout the story.
4: This book will have a vivid setting. One that draws the reader in to experience with all their senses, the people, places and things that are occurring within the story. If it is a fictional world, a map is a must, especially if the characters are on a journey through that world. The world building will have the perfect mix of descriptive detail while also leaving room for the individual’s imagination and built up in such a way that it does not impact the flow of the story.
5: This book’s characters will be clear players in the story, fulfilling a specific role. Again, they will be described in detail, but not so much that there is little left to the imagination. The main characters will have certain defining qualities that set them apart from the other characters and will either grow through the story (in as believable a transformation as possible), or they will remain the same, acting according to their character type depending on their function within the story. The main characters will be written in such a way that readers connect with the characters on a personal level, befriending them, relating to them and either rooting for their success or their demise.
6: This book will also incite an emotional reaction from the reader. Scenes will carry the weight of the emotion behind the action, as if the reader is experiencing the moment for him/herself. They will get lost in the story, gripped by all the elements above to live vicariously within the pages of the book. Ultimately, the story will bring them the joy of having read a good book that will compel them to want to share the experience with others.
7: Finally, this book will have an extra “oomf” for lack of a better word. A surprise the reader truly didn’t see coming, a unexpected twist of character development, a golden nugget that is difficult to pinpoint unless the author has successfully included it in order to bring the story up to this five star standard. It could be such a connection to the character or the story, that the story or character stays with them long after they have finished the book. It could be a cliff hanger that surprised and excited the reader so much that they can’t stand the wait for the next installment of the story. It could be such a radical plot twist they didn’t see coming that it completely changed their emotional reaction to the story (both in the positive or the negative depending on the situation.) It is difficult to quantify this factor, nevertheless it remains an important component to a five star rating.
What Five Stars DON’T have
In addition to the above, I also must address what a five star book does not contain. A five star book does not include such dark elements that bring the reader down spiritually. These include explicit crime scenes that do not go unpunished, explicit drug and alcohol use, grotesque, gory descriptions that are better left to the imagination, and demonic themes that twist and ultimately prevail over good.
These books also don’t include fowl language that is replete throughout and used without purpose. Cursing in the appropriate context is acceptable, but when characters curse without cause, merely to converse, it is unnecessary, no matter the character’s speaking style.
Finally, these books do not contain any perverted relationships found in the LGBTQ agenda. These books may include everything a five star book has, but for me, if there is even a small mention of a side character who promotes a perverted relationship, I will give it one star, and that’s only because I can’t give it less than half which, in my opinion, is what it deserves.
A four star book is characterized by a failure to meet one or two of the metrics found in a five star book. However, where the author falls short, the other metrics are done so well, the reader can overlook the failures and therefore it doesn’t take away from the overall story and negatively impact the effect it has on the reader.
1: This book will still include all the basic literary elements mentioned above.
2: The plot will also be unique and compelling as outlined in a five star book.
3: In regards to the writing, this is one area where the writer may fall short. There will be a few instances where the writer fails to “show, not tell.” Grammar may not be the highest standard but it’s still written well enough that the reader can overlook the shortcomings, especially when the plot is so compelling. The writing is still overall smooth with only a few instances where it becomes choppy.
4: A four star book will tend to fall to either extreme when it comes to world building. It will either have too much detail that the reader has no room for imagination and it will bog down the flow of the story, or it doesn’t have enough detail and the reader is unable to picture and experience the setting. The four star book could be a mix where the author adequately describes the rooms/places in the story very well, yet fails to detail the grand scheme of the setting, especially if the characters are physically journeying through the world. This book will have a map, but the author may rely too heavily on the physical image and fail to include descriptors in the story that place the reader in the world they have created. Overall, all the senses with experience the setting but either too much or not enough.
5: A four star book will still have exceptional characters as outlined above. As the leading player of the story, it is imperative the reader connects to the character in order to drive them on the journey throughout the book.
6: This book will also incite an emotional reaction from the reader. When the author effectively connects the reader with the characters and plot, an emotional reaction is a given.
7: This is another area where the author’s book might warrant four instead of stars. It will be missing that extra “oomf,” that wow factor, that difficult to quantify, rare bit of sparkle that sets the book apart.
*This book will also not include the elements listed above that five star books don’t have.
Three star books are common, average works that don’t particularly stand out.
1: They still include all the basic literary elements mentioned in a five star book. These elements are necessary to tell a story to begin with.
2: The plot in three star books are basic. We’ve heard it before, there’s just different names and different places but the overall story is the same. we know what’s going to happen and we’re not surprised.
3: The writing is also basic. Oftentimes, three star books can be described as an easy read. The grammar is lacking, and the sentence structure is short and choppy at times, however, those things do not get in the way of the story. You can still get what’s going on and enjoy the overall book.
4: When it comes to world building, three star books usually lack detail and leave too much to the imagination. There is some basic details given, but the author fails to include all our senses when describing the setting. We may see the place and hear the place, but we don’t smell it or taste it when we read the details. There may be a map, but it doesn’t provide enough context for the reader and there isn’t enough description within the novel to experience the setting to its fullest.
5: This book will have decent characters, however they may be very surface level. The main characters serve their role within the story, but they have no depth. We don’t really know their background, or why they do the things they do, but then again, the basic story doesn’t require it so we don’t care in the first place. Instead of these characters being our best friends, they’re more like acquaintances we are following in a story we’ve heard many times before.
6: The emotional response from these books are lacking. You don’t really feel one way or another about the story, you just know you had a nice time reading a book that told a story.
7: Three star books have no extra “oomf” factor. They are basic, easy books that quite honestly, anyone can write, especially when they have a decent editor.
*This book will also not include the elements listed above that five star books don’t have, OR, if they do, they will be very minimal and a content warning will be included at the start of the book.
A two star book is similar to a three star book. They are basic books that tell a story, but where the author falls short in certain metrics, those things tend to get in the way of the overall story. Many people tend to not finish these books as a result.
1: They still include all the basic literary elements mentioned in a five star book. These elements are necessary to tell a story.
2: The plot in two star books are also basic. Like three star books, the plot is nothing new. We know what to expect because we’ve heard it countless times before. However there may also be some small holes in the plot. Questions left unanswered, things that don’t make sense or add up. Believability also plays a role in this metric. The author fails to adequately help us suspend our belief for the sake of the story, thus we don’t feel compelled to finish the book.
3: The writing is the biggest area that may get in the way of the story. Typos are replete, grammar is awful, and dialogue is stiff. There’s hardly any showing and mostly telling in this book and the story is so choppy, it’s hard for the reader to overlook.
4: The setting in two star books leave much to be desired. There is no map and while the reader may see the setting through basic descriptions in the story, they don’t feel, smell, or taste their surroundings. We cannot fully immerse ourselves in the work and is therefore another reason why many fail to finish the book.
5: Like three star books, two star books will have very surface level characters with no depth. Rather than acquaintances, these characters are strangers. They may show some responses and behaviors that we can relate to which is what compels us to attempt to read the story in the first place, but their growth and development within the plot is very slow and otherwise frustrating. They may also occasionally act out of their established character which further contributes to the frustration we feel when reading these kind of characters.
6: Two star books elicit negative emotions. You’re either frustrated with the characters, the plot, or the writing. It’s hard to want to keep reading, but yet somehow you remain hopeful that it will get better so you trudge on despite your better judgement, only to be left wishing you had just did the unthinkable and DNF’d it.
7: Two star books have no extra “oomf” factor.
*This book will also not include the elements that five star books don’t include, OR, if they do, they will be very minimal BUT there will be no content warning at the start of the book.
One star books vary based on the content. In my personal experience of these books, I have found that they are a mixed bag of good and bad. Many people manage to finish them, while others quickly decide not to.
First of all, these books often include those things that five star books DO NOT include which contributes to their dismal rating. There are dark elements, explicit content, overall gory scenes, dirty language and perversion. These books may also not include content warnings at the beginning.
1: They still include all the basic literary elements mentioned in a five star book. These elements are necessary to tell a story.
2: The plot in one star books are basic which tend to trick the reader into thinking it will be at least a three star book. Like three star books, we know what’s going to happen. These books surprisingly don’t have many gaping plot holes. If there are any, they’re small and we don’t recognize them until the very end when we’re left with many unanswered questions.
3: The writing can also be deceptive. While it can often be described as an easy read, either the sentence structure flows well enough to warrant such a description, or the grammar is adequate but never both, leading you to think the book is better than it is. There are typos throughout that people will either hate or choose to ignore, however they are in such abundance that you can’t possibly not see them.
4: The setting in one star books also trick the reader. It may start off fantastic, but then the effort to describe the scene or setting tends to wane near the middle/end of the book. The author may appeal to a few senses here and there but is not consistent in their efforts throughout the novel. There is no map with these books and descriptors also become bland as the story progresses. In many instances, the descriptions are very basic from beginning to end. For example, “The green tree…the bright sun… the cold wind.” As opposed to: “The tree stood tall and stately in its emerald splendor under the golden rays of the sun as a crisp breeze plucked at its leaves, tempting the gems to turn over their color to the new season approaching.”
5: Another area that can be good or bad: one star books have characters you either love or hate right from the beginning. However, with their lack of depth, or unbelievability of their actions, readers slowly lose interest in the characters. Sometimes the character will be relatable just enough that you will follow their story to the end, but the conclusion doesn’t add up to their character, or it leaves you feeling that something was not quite right. They may also behave in such a way that is just down right irritating as the main character, but then there’s another main character you love so you stay in it for them, only to be let down by their anticlimactic conclusion in the story. Additionally, physical descriptors of the characters are also lacking detail and originality.
6: One star books leave much to be desired. These are the books where when you get to the end (if you make it to the end) you’re left feeling incomplete. You feel as though there must be more to the story and wonder if this really is the end. You don’t feel any resolution with these books because the author failed to weave all the necessary components of a story together in a way that felt cohesive.
7: It goes without saying but one star books have no extra “oomf” factor.
Whether you agree or disagree with the parameters listed above, I believe there has to be some sort of standard measure when you review books. Otherwise, you are simply sharing your emotional reaction to the book and those feelings vary from day to day. You may like a book one day, but if you read that same book another day for the first time, you may think otherwise.
What, in your mind, constitutes a ‘good’ book? I encourage you to seriously consider the differences between a good book and a bad one and get clear on what sets the best apart. You can read reviews from other book reviewers all the day long, but if they have no clear standard of measure, what does their review really mean? Furthermore, how will you know if you’ll like the book the highly recommend when there’s no basis for their recommendation? Just food for thought…