Rating my reviews

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Something has been nagging at me for some time. To score or not to score, that is the question (hum... not really... but how to do it)! When I first started reviewing on the blog, the rating system I decided to go with came to me naturally, without much second thoughts. After several reviews, I started to like it, probably because it was the kind of thing I looked for when reading other reviews.  Then, on some occasions, I started to have problems with the 10 points review scores, more so when putting half points.  I don't mean to say that I don't like it anymore but I'm thinking that maybe I ought to make some changes. 

First of all, let me say that I really like to put a number on a review. I won't stop scoring or rating them (I even caught myself on some hasty browsing looking down at the score before deciding to read the full review...).  However, I think that a five star (or something like that, it doesn't have to really be stars...) system could be a better fit and I would like your input on this. Judging a book by an 8.5 vs an 8 is not always a hundred percent fair. I mean, is there really a big deal between the two or is it only used for sorting them out from best to worst?

I found on some instances that a couple of months after giving a score to a review and reading many more novels, the score that I gave earlier became problematic in comparison with a score I would like to give a new review. Both books could have been 4 or 5 stars novels but since I gave the first one a 9 and the other book was not near perfection, I struggled to put an 9.5. Maybe they both deserve to be five stars and I should say that both were "Highly recommended" and the actual review will clear things out...

A five stars rating system could come out with a better expression of my feelings.  But then, you could argue for the contrary... All of this may not be of much importance but if you could give me your insight on the subject, it would be appreciated. So, is a scoring system on 5 more interesting with "Amazingly brilliant", Highly recommended", "Nice read", "Put it at the bottom of the pile", "My god what was that" or "Touch this novel only at your greatest peril" (ok... that would not be the real labels I would use but I'm sure you grasp the meaning).

Another question would be the 5 categories of rating I usually put up (Characterization, World building, Magic system, Story and Writing)... still of interest? Maybe it would be more meaningful to "score" these aspects when they are more significant in both ways...

Here's some examples of what it would mean for a couple of my reviews :

5 "stars"
The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie (9.5/10)
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (9.5/10)
The Crippled God by Steven Erikson (9/10)
City of Ruin by Mark Charan Newton (9/10)

4 "stars"
The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan (8/10)
The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (8/10)
The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (7.5/10)
The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett (7.5/10)

3 "stars"
The Unremembered by Peter Orullian (7.5/10)
The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sarnderson (7/10)
The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (7/10)

2 "stars"
A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans (6.5/10)
Imager by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (6.5/10)
Midwinter by Matthew Sturges (6.5/10)

1  "star"
Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson - (4/10)

0  "stars"
Confessor by Terry Goodkind (2.5/10)



Bryce L. said...

I support rating systems mainly because I don't have time to read every single review (but I read all of yours of course). Then, I also think that sometimes you focus on the negatives during a review but still rate the book higher or the other way around. So a rating and the review really can gel together quite well.

darkul said...

I think a rating system is a good filter. Why bother with 3 or less stars? Just to waste time on a less good piece of literature?

But I have a few other notes.

Books clearly better than others should be the milestones.
For example if I think one of Erikson's books is the best fantasy I've ever read (to me that is without any doubt the most rewarding of all time) then this book get's 10/10 or in your case 5/5. A book I really liked but is nowhere near that should be rated relative to the peak defining output.
To keep up with your examples: in my eyes Joe Abercrombie is also very good but nowhere near the quality and dimension Erikson creates. For me 8.5 stars or less though it is still way ahead of most other fantasy books which are rated way too high. And I really highly recommend it.
The amount of books with few stars is not high enough. We rate mostly 6-10 stars even if that seems not realistic. Where are all the 1-5 stars?
And also: Too much high rated books, compared to those milestones.

Points instead of stars:
I would call it like that instead of stars, a 1 star book has not earned a "star", literally.

10 point-system without half points:
6,7,8,9,10 are wonderful numbers to make differences. A difference between 4 and 5 stars in your new system is not fine enough in my eyes but 8 or 9 points are a very fair difference.

10 points with half points:
A ten point system with half points would be a 20 point system which is really not needed because finally we would end up with 100 points.

If I could vote, I would say: make a 10 "point" system with more quality differences.

Dave said...

On my web site we use a 10 scale rating system but we're going to switch it to 5 stars. We use bars right now and sometimes you can't tell if it's a 6 or a 7 at a quick glance. The stars will make it easier to get a quick read and, as it seems to be more in use around the web, will hopefully be more intuitive for our visitors.

I don't want to give up the 10 scale though so we'll be using half stars which allows us to keep the 10 scale but the display will be easier to read. It has the added benefit of simplifying the conversion too. A 10 becomes a 5 and a 9 becomes a 4.5 and on down the line.

Anonymous said...

I like the current system 1-10 with 0.5 points

a Fantasy Reader All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger