Maybe it’s no art.
I think some arrogance may be attached to book blogging and reviewing. We read a novel and review it, give it some numerical rating that means: I loved it or I hated it or somewhere in between.
Today I discovered a highly regarded reviewer on Goodreads whose highest rating that I saw after just looking at three pages of her reviews was a three. Most were twos or ones, on novels I rated 3s and 4s.
Which makes me sad.
Before I started blogging and writing intensely, I was probably scroogier with my ratings. Now, I understand.
Just to write a novel earns you a one. I don’t care if you misspelled every other word and changed John to Victor midway through. You get a one for having written the thing. Do you know how many people say: oh, that’s easy, but never do it, or they try, realize just how hard it it, but never tell us that they failed and that maybe writing a novel isn’t as easy as it seems?
Yep. You get a one just for having done it.
For a two, there has to be some heart. Maybe you don’t know that logically bears hibernate in winter and can’t attack your TSTL heroine. But you write well and you got me to finish your novel. You get a two.
Three? Everything is working, but there’s something missing, that certain je ne sais quoi, that means I will always remember this work. It’s average, but extremely readable.
Four? You’ve got me in your clutches ,and I am liking what I’m reading
Five. Yes! Tiny feet dancing, hallelujah chorus, what have you.
Ratings are subjective. I get that. But I think we also need to acknowledge the work it takes to complete a novel.
Or maybe I’m wrong. Am I?
Do I feel compassion for the writer who has slaved away for hours they can never get back and factor that in, when it may be undeserved? It’s possible I do that.
How do you rate a well-written novel when you just hate one aspect of it? You think maybe the heroine should be gutsier? The setting less…wet? The prose less flowery?
Should we rate novels at all? Should we pay attention to highly regarded reviewers on Goodreads when maybe they rate on quantity over quality?
When it comes down to it, how do you evaluate books and the people/reviewers who rate them.
I wanna know.
Addendum: I look at reviews on Goodreads much as I look at reviews on Amazon. If I think I might want to take on an ARC, I will look at the lowest review on Goodreads and then evaluate the reviewer, which is how I discovered today’s subject. Some reviewers are curmudgeonly regardless of their age, and this needs to be factored in. Likewise, some reviewers love everything…or say they do. However, I don’t let this review process prejudice my reading.