Having posted two book reviews, on two very opposite sides of the spectrum, I probably should have written this up beforehand. But it was something I hadn't even thought about until my friend, Ashton (also a writer and an awesome person in general) wrote a post about her own star rating system.
It makes a lot of sense and, naturally, it's different than mine. Because you'd probably be hard pressed to find people who interpret a star rating system exactly the same way.
Some include half stars, some count to five, others count to ten. Even the setup of ratings can be very different from person to person.
So it is a good idea to put my own system into words somehow. So many things make up a book. Characters, plot, message, pacing, voice, style, and word choice just to name a few. When I read books and think about what to rate them afterward, some of those aspects tend to carry more weight than others, but they are all a part of the whole and it's important to consider each of them.
With ratings of 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5, three is obviously in the center of the group. Even keel, ambivalent, neither liked nor disliked. When I go into any book, my mind is typically giving it a three in my head. I don't start with one and work my way up, or start with five and take notches down. If I've heard good or bad things about a book beforehand, sometimes there might be a slighttt lean one way or the other, but I try to keep that bias in check.
So getting into what each star tier means to me...
5 Stars - Means I really loved the book. The characters were believable and interesting, pulling me into their world and the plot. Whether I get a happy, sad, thoughtful, angry, or whatever kind of emotion, I get the impression it's what I'm meant to feel from this book. I felt what the author was intending really 'vibed' with me. I'd be happy to pick up more books from the author and am chomping at the bit to reread the 5 Star book.
4 Stars - I definitely enjoyed this book. Maybe it's not one of my all time faves, but I have plenty of good things to say about its characters, plots, message, style, etc. It's one I would recommend to fans of whatever genre it is. I'm happy that I got the opportunity to read it. I would keep an eye out for the author and happily look into other books of theirs to see if they sound appealing to me. I would look forward to rereading a 4 Star book when I have the time (and a smaller TBR list, let's be honest).
3 Stars - The starting point and the standard. I didn't really like or really not like this book. There were pretty equal amounts of positive and negative aspects that blend into a pretty okay experience. I'm always glad to have read this book and experienced it even if the impression I get doesn't end up being a long-lasting one. May or may not read the 3 Star book again. Probably not before I'm done with other owned books I haven't read yet.
2 Stars - Eh. Can't say I'm much of a fan of this book. If I find characters a little lackluster or the plot a little difficult to follow, a book might end up in this kind of tier. But it's not to say I didn't find any good in the book at all. Be it a message or a theme or even some clever word choice. Probably not one I would pick up to reread unless there was a reason behind it. I found good points in the 2 Star book, but I just didn't like it all that much.
1 Star - This is a book I either A. struggle to find the good aspects of, or B. see the positive in but the negative points about it are too loud for me to ignore. These are books where the characters, story, and intent are clearly trying to make me feel one thing... and I'm feeling the exact opposite. It's a book I won't reread, a series I probably wouldn't finish, and a star rating I never enjoy giving. But it's another level of distinction and *Mufasa voice* Everything has its place in the great Circle of Reviews.
And this is all just me. And that's what's cool about things. Everyone has their own interpretation of what would put a book under which star rating.
Every book I love has people who can't stand it.
And any book that doesn't float my boat could sail someone else's over an ocean of dreams.