The Great Divide: 2 or 3 Stars?

This is one of the biggest dilemmas for me as a book reviewer: when should I assign only 2 stars?

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I don’t do half stars so my ratings have a 60% chance of being positive, then 40% chance of being negative. I consider a 3 star review to be positive and usually assign them to ‘meh’ books that are at least reasonably well written but just don’t appeal to my tastes – I always make it clear in my review that this is the case.

I reserve single star ratings for books that are completely unreadable or downright offensive, there’s only ever been one book that I’ve found that offensive before – I decided not even to review it in the end so I didn’t promote it by proxy.

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A 2 star review isn’t something I take lightly because you’re telling the world that you don’t like an author’s work, so I’m trying to come up with some criteria to follow when I’m dithering over it

  • Very poorly edited; typos, repetition (doesn’t count in ARC form)
  • Story is clearly plagarised from other books or media
  • A book I had to skim read to even finish

It’s an incomplete list, as you can see so I need some help! How do you decide when to assign 2 stars to a review? Do any of you just refuse to publish reviews below a 3?

12 thoughts on “The Great Divide: 2 or 3 Stars?

    • Nia says:

      I’m thinking that may be the way forward for me, the whole ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’ principle.

      Do you let the authors know you’re not reviewing the book, if they approached you originally for a review?

      Like

      • dave says:

        I’ve often let the publicist know, especially if I’ve requested a copy of the book, or agreed to be part of a blog tour. Unsolicited books just go to one side!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. stacey garrity says:

    As you know I publish all ratings. I know a lot of blogs that only publish 4/5 star reviews, but when I decided to start the blog I decided I wanted to be completely open and honest with the reviews. Unfortunately that does mean that some reviews fall short of that mark.

    I think out of the hundreds of reviews on the blog, there are only 2, one star reviews, and a handful of 2 stars.

    I feel it’s only right that if someone has gone to the trouble of reading a book, then the review should be done.

    My only exception is those books that DNF. These I just tell the author we won’t be writing a review. Mainly due to the fact that you can’t write a proper, honest review without finishing the book.

    I’ve also only every had one author who was not happy with his two star rating, and let it be known everywhere the review was written. Believe me, I could of been worse in my assessment, but I didn’t want to cause any issues. In the end I just blocked him everywhere, and told his publisher not to send me his new book.

    In a nutshell, go with your gut instinct, do what is right for you and right for your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. noveldeelights says:

    I don’t post reviews with less than 3 stars on my blog but I do rate them on Goodreads.

    I don’t often use 2 stars though. They are usually the books I skim-read because they’re “meh” but part of me is too curious and wants to know how things end. However, more often than not, it’ll end up being a DNF and thus it gets no rating whatsoever. I have way too many books to read to waste my time on something I’m not enjoying.

    My ratings tend to go 3 = ok, 4 = great and 5 = awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

      • noveldeelights says:

        Not yet, no. I emailed a publisher once about a book I couldn’t finish and they were very understanding. And I’ve had an author contact me via Goodreads because I gave her book 1 star but she didn’t understand how I could rate it when it wasn’t published yet so I had to explain netgalley to her. 😄

        Also, I should point out that I don’t use a rating on my blog which is incredibly freeing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ellie Warren (@patchworkbunny) says:

    I think “A book I had to skim read to even finish” is pretty accurate. I don’t post many 2 star reviews as I only review books I finish. I think sometimes if I have high expectations of a book based on an author’s previous work, I’m more likely to finish in case it suddenly improves but usually I won’t carry on with anything that’s not going to be a solid 3 stars at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nia says:

      I need to be more brutal with my DNFs, I somehow make myself finish almost everything I pick up no matter how dire.

      I’ll have to learn from your example!

      Like

  4. Lainy SMBSLT says:

    I post all reviews on my blog, what makes something a 2 star for me can be a sale for the author because what I didn’t like can be someone elses love. I have also bought books on 1 & 2 star reviews because the brutal honesty they slated is things I love in my books.

    I think all reviews have their place and as a blogger I try always be respectful but always honest.

    It is hard as you say because it is someones work but I have had many authors thank me and say they hadn’t seen it as x,y,z or they can use the points to strengthen their next read. And that kind of attitude, even if I didn’t love/like the book ad buy another for a friend who would or as a giveaway prize. There are authors who go nuts at less than 4 stars and become hostile but at the end of the day even masterpieces aren’t loved by all. It isn’t always about the writer or their talent, sometimes a book just isn’t for that particular reader. It is very rare I won’t recommend a book but my 2 stars I recommend to plenty. I highlight what I did like or what was done well and what didn’t work for me.

    When deciding between a 2 or 3 I think what is my criteria and look at my 3 stars previously,is this on the same level? If no then it has to be a two.

    Some folk hate star ratings but most sites use them and it is our written content that balances and shows why we have chosen as we have.

    I always remember,one mans junk is anothers gold and after all it is just *our* own personal opinion xxx

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nia says:

      This is a brilliant and well thought out answer, thank you!

      I think it’s that honesty with yourself of ‘if it’s not as good as that 3* the you owe it to everyone to drop the rating’

      Like

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