3 Star Ratings: the Reviewer’s Perspective

What does it mean to a reviewer to give a 3-star rating?

This post is part of the 3-Star Rating Event organized by Bitten by Paranormal Books. Today’s post, not just here but at all of the participating blogs, is the opportunity for the blogger/reviewers to talk about what it means when they give a book a 3-star rating, or the equivalent for their blog.

On Reading Reality, 3 stars would be an Escape Rating of C. That doesn’t mean a “Gentleman’s C” like they used to award at Ivy League schools (possibly still do), but, as it says on my review policy:

C: Good fun.  I enjoyed the time I spent with the story and/or characters.

So a C means I had fun. To me, that’s pretty important. I read genre fiction, it’s supposed to be fun! If I give a C that means the book succeeded. But, but, but, there was something that kept it from doing more than working beyond that most basic level of giving me a pleasant escape for the time it took me to read it. And my review is going to explain whatever it was that kept the grade from being higher than a C.

What makes a story a C rating, at least to me?

I have a tendency to give a C+ rating to novellas that I enjoy a lot, but frustrate me because I want more than I got. I can see that there should be more story, or more backstory, or more worldbuilding, and it got left “on the cutting room floor”. While I recognize that the author may have needed to make a word count requirement, as the reader, what I feel is that I liked what I got, but that the story cries out for more depth, or breadth or length, or all of the above.

I gave Break Out, by Nina Croft, a C+ rating. I also named it one of my best of the year. But only along with its sequel, Deadly Pursuit. Together, the two books had the worldbuilding that neither quite managed alone.

Sometimes my willing suspension of disbelief won’t let me go past a C+. Lust in the Library was a C+ book, not because it wasn’t fun, but because I know too much about libraries. Any real librarian who behaved like the librarians in that book would get fired.

Some stories get a solid C because while I enjoyed them once, and might recommend them to another reader of the same genre, they don’t rise to the next level. C and C+ books are generally terrific mind-candy, but don’t have the elements that would make me recommend them to readers who are not already fans of that particular genre. But whatever makes them C-rated books, the review explains it, usually in glorious technicolor detail.

But it’s just one reviewer’s opinion. YMMV.

Tomorrow, each blog will post comments they’ve gathered from authors about what they think and feel when their work receives a 3-star rating. More comments are always welcome, so that purple comment link at the bottom of this post, please click it and send me your thoughts on this subject. Or email me at marlene (at) readingreality (dot) net.

As a reader, what does a 3-star rating mean to you? I’d love to know what review readers think about the ratings!

The links to all the blogs participating in the 3-star rating event hop are listed below. Check them out to see what other reviewers had to say about this murky subject.



11 thoughts on “3 Star Ratings: the Reviewer’s Perspective

  1. Three stars for me is “I liked it.” It held my attention enough to keep me reading. It may not have wowed me, but there was something to like and I did. When I’m reading reviews, I don’t like to look at rankings so much as the opinions, because I’ve seen glowing opinions with low rankings, and harsh opinions with high rankings.

    1. I can tell when I pull together the database for Ebook Review Central, that some people consistently rate low, some high. But a 3 or a C is usually “liked” or “good” or “worth my time” or something along those lines.
      A+ or 5 stars is practically “stand on street corners and harangue passing strangers into reading the book”.

    1. Yes! If it was good, it should be a whole book. Sometimes I just feel so…teased. Of course, sometimes they are “teaser novellas”. But when that’s all there is, I’m left feeling a bit like Oliver Twist.
      And just wait til tomorrow, when they authors come back with their perspective on the whole thing!

  2. Great insight into your reviewing thoughts. So interesting. Of course, as an author, I wanted to be loved. LOL! But as a reader, I need this kind of fair assessment. It’s why I look at reviews. So thank you very much!

    1. Pauline, you are so welcome! And thanks for leaving comments on the author side. It’s great that you have both perspectives.
      p.s. as a blogger, I want to be LOVED too. 😉

  3. LOL! I do love reading and I like finding out what others think about books. When I became an author, though, I lost my ability to review. I guess I’m afraid of getting flamed. LOL!

  4. When I write a 3 star review it means I had a goos time with the book and it was an enjoyable read, but some things didn’t quite work out for me. It had the potential to be more, but doesn’t mean it’s bad!

Comments are closed.