When I post a review here on my blog I don’t give the book a star rating but when I share the reviews with Amazon and Goodreads I do.
Of course without star ratings on a huge site like Amazon it would be very difficult (or next to impossible) for readers who are browsing for their next book to find something quickly. Without being able to see the general consensus through star ratings they would have to trawl through thousands of reviews. Clearly that couldn’t work.
Yet I am still a little at odds with myself over the awarding of stars. Quite often I have seen a book with great reviews get a one star for reasons that, to me at least, are unreasonable. Sometimes it seems to have been a technical difficulty with the download or, just as bad, because the reader didn’t agree with the outcome. Whilst, as a reader, I have a dislike of what I would judge as unlikely or rushed endings, and would make that point within a review I would never mark a review down because the main character dies in the end or doesn’t get the girl even if I personally thought that would have been a better conclusion. After all it’s the author’s story and as long it is well executed, that is how the ending is, as far as I’m concerned. Their decision.
So, here is the thing I am getting to. I read a book last week that I thought was perfectly written, good characterisation, a clever plot and a satisfying, clever and unexpected conclusion but, guess what? I really didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t the ending, it wasn’t the middle, it was all of it. (I should add here that a quick scan of reviews shows I am vastly in the minority)
Although I do try to read widely, I am wary of some genres, foe example, Science Fiction as there is a good chance the book won’t appeal to me, (although The Martian was one of my top reads last year). But when I picked up a book on Audible I thought I was onto a sure thing. A small town, lots of secrets, a disagreement that leads to murder. Perfect.
I don’t want to actually review the book here, that will come later, but I do want to say that the story revolves around a nursery school, the children, the mother’s and the minutiae of their lives. There are important issues, domestic violence, broken families but there are also outfits, shoes, money and the absolutely endless politics surrounding school life. I couldn’t bear these characters, their self importance and their duplicity anymore than I could in real life.
Now I ask myself, what is a fair star rating for this book as far as my reading experience of it goes? I have no doubt at all of the author’s talent. The book has a strong storyline and fast, witty dialogue. I know other readers loved this book.
I am giving it a three. I couldn’t give it less because the book doesn’t deserve it and I can’t give it more because I couldn’t enjoy it.
Is that fair?