Originally I was against putting a letter grade or star rating on my reviews (which might have been because I started out writing purely small press reviews, and I didn’t really want to give people’s personal work a straight-up letter grade :S ), but after using the star rating system on Goodreads for a couple of years now I’ve gotten used to it and actually find it pretty interesting.
I enjoy looking back over things I’ve given similar grades to and realising things like, for example, where my cutoff point is for ‘I have to own this!’ vs. being happy to just borrow it (or even, ‘I own this, but now I must get rid of it as quickly as possible’)
So here’s a brief ramble about what my each star rating actually means to me:
5 stars – I love this series! If I don’t own it its on my to-buy list. I probably felt some kind of connection to each 5 star entry that went beyond just ‘this is a good solid story with good solid art’. Some of these will be universal recommendations that I think practically everyone could get something out of (e.g. Yotsuba&!), but others will be a purely personal thing, so I might still recommend that people try one volume before jumping all the way in.
4 stars – I really liked this book. It was above-averagely entertaining with a good solid story and good solid art. Recommended.
3 stars – I liked this book. This is probably the most volatile category. A lot of entries here will be very strong in one element, but fall down on another (e.g. Benjamin’s ‘Orange’ – I adore the artwork, but couldn’t stand the story). The other reason for a book ending up here is that it was still an all-round entertaining read, but it just didn’t quite hit the highs of a 4-star. A 3 star review certainly does not mean the book was bad though – an awful lot of what I read day-to-day ends up as 3 stars, but I still enjoyed reading it.
2 stars – This book was OK: the book was alright, but I wouldn’t recommend that anyone bothered getting hold of it unless there was something in particular about it that piqued your interest. Usually 2-stars are books that are either a bit boring, with lacklustre art and story, or too confusing to continue reading. This is probably my least used rating – I can’t remember many books I didn’t hate but didn’t like enough to give a 3-star rating to either.
1 star – I didn’t like this book. If I own it, its probably in my ‘take to a bring-n-buy at my next con’ pile. This is probably because either I found the art too horrendous to stick with, or the story too non-existant, or a particular combination of art and story being way too confusing or boring to bother with. Some of these will be ‘I found this book to be bad in general, don’t bother reading it’, but others will be ‘I personally didn’t get on with this book, but others might’, e.g. Natsume Ono’s ‘Ristorante Paradiso’ (conveniently forgetting that I actually gave it a 2 rating, not 1) I don’t really like that book, but it still has merit for other people to try.
So that’s my rating system in a nutshell!