I use a five point rating scale to evaluate my reads. I separate this scale into two categories: books I finish and books I don’t. The books I don’t finish (DNF) go into the discard pile. Everything that I finish gets between three and five stars. I give every book a fair start. I require myself to read five chapters (assuming they are reasonable length) before I make a decision to continue. Everything three stars and above is something I enjoyed reading enough to finish. When I’m torn between one rating or another, I resort to half star increments. In these cases, I round down since most places only have whole star options, but I always indicate the exact rating in the review.
1⭐️ DNF Did not enjoy. There were problems with this book’s fundamental building blocks: writing style, tone, plot, characters, and theme. I couldn’t find anything of merit to comment on.
2⭐️ DNF. Stopped at or after chapter five. Maybe I got a little farther than five because there were redeeming qualities about certain aspects of the book. Perhaps there were a few characters that held my attention but ultimately didn’t hook me enough. These books have problems with a number of their fundamental building blocks. However, they have things that were done adequately, and even well. But even those things were not enough to keep my interest.
3⭐️ This is a book I enjoyed enough to finish. There were some problematic aspects. Usually characters that lack well-defined purposes, there’s no hero’s journey, the story is lacking character arcs, plots that never resolve, or plots that don’t follow a conventional problem/solution outcome. Maybe the pace is too slow or too meandering. Maybe there are plot holes or poorly researched topics discussed in the book. Often times there are slight inaccuracies in the information presented, events portrayed, etc. Despite some of these flaws, I still wanted to know more.
4⭐️ This is a book was both enjoyable and satisfying. It still contains imperfections. The fundamental building blocks are nearly perfect. Some of the reasons this book didn’t get five stars are as follows: The voice might be awkward or there are problems with typos, dialogue, and grammar. Maybe there are a few characters I didn’t care for, but I liked the hero. Perhaps it wasn’t written as strongly as it could have been. Perhaps the book’s hero was incredible, entertaining, and addictive, but the backstory, story line, or some other aspect was a hard to believe. My point is, this book has some things against it, but it still has a hell of a lot going for it. It’s still a great book, it just isn’t one of “the greats.”
5⭐️ This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed, was potentially life changing, and keeps me thinking about the story long after putting it down. This is a book that has nothing working against it. There is a definite character arc, theme, and story core, all of which are well defined. The characters are entirely fleshed out, the world building is believable and well-developed, and plot is structured with the correct pace. This is one of “the greats” as far as books are concerned.