I use stars to rate the books I read. Some book bloggers have some awesome systems, though. There’s a book blogger out there right now who rates her books with cups of coffee – so cool.
Shana at Bionic Book Worm is asking us the question this week, what makes us rate books five stars?
Five stars usually mean the best of the best. The books that blew us away and had us dreaming about them weeks after we’ve finished. We put them at eye level on our bookshelves so we don’t forget to re-read them soon. The five star books are the ones that make us fall even harder for reading.
There’s loads of reasons to give a book a five star review but for me, there’s definitely five important ones I can list:
1. Impactful characters
It doesn’t matter to me if main characters are good guys or anti-heroes (although I do love a goody-two-shoes), but five star books have characters that pack a punch. The best characters are complex, have issues, demons but a determination to battle through anyway.
One of the books I read recently, The Blue Devil, (read the review here) had an amazing protagonist named Blue. She’s an anti-hero that could give Deadpool a run for his money. Riddled with inner demons, both magical and personal, she fiercely protects everything that is dear to her. I got so invested in her as a character and as a result, her story, which earned itself a full five stars.
Bear with me here because this isn’t true all of the time. Loads of books have twists that don’t quite fit the bill: twists that aren’t really twists because you can guess them chapters ahead, or twists with an unsatisfying payoff.
The five star twists are the ones that spring out of nowhere, that have you staring at your book wide-eyed and open-mouthed and drawing weird looks from family passing by. The twists that give you an adrenaline rush just from reading them. I love well executed twists and a well written book plus an epic twist often earns a five-star review from me.
3. Complex relationships
I’ll take romance in any genre unless it’s the romance genre. Getting together is that much more complicated if the characters are also solving a mystery or overthrowing an evil wizard – and therefore, much more interesting. At least, as far as I’m concerned.
I love couples that take ages to get together either because of their circumstances or because of their own flaws that they have to overcome before they let someone else into their lives. It makes the payoff that much more satisfying.
Having said this, relationships don’t have to be romantic for me to take notice of them. In fact, some of the more interesting relationships are the ones between people other than partners. But when all is said and done, the more intricate the relationship, the higher the star rating.
4. Straight-to-the-point prose
“Flowery prose” used to be the go-to method of telling a story 100 years ago. Authors used to be super wordy, explaining things in an over-embellished way that isn’t really necessary to propel the story. Unfortunately, some books still do this and it makes me lose interest so quickly.
The truly five-star prose is the kind that gets to the point and occasionally deviates for a second to a character’s wandering thoughts or an inconsequential but immersive detail that pulls you further into the book’s world.
5. No cliffhangers
I will straight-up admit that I have broken this rule for a few amazingly written exceptions but mostly, if the book ends on a cliffhanger I won’t give it five stars. A lot of the cliffhangers I’ve read have just been a push to buy the next book and while I can’t disagree with the tactic, as a reader it leaves me feeling unfulfilled.
If the story has a few loose ends and the answers are teased in the next book, that’s all well and good. But when everything the book has built up to finishes without a resolution, I feel a little cheated. I have invested time and feels into this book and it stiffs me on the ending? What is this, a book or a freemium game?
I’ve read so many five star books already this year and I can’t wait to get stuck into more. Fingers crossed you have a five star January, too!
Thanks for reading!