How I Rate Books and Movies


This topic might seem a tad on the dry side, but I think it’s important. I’ve been doing a lot more reviews lately, and I could stand to clarify what my various ratings mean to me and how I think as a reviewer. I’ll be adding the link to this article to my about page for future reference, as well.

Firstly, my rating system is more lenient with movies than with books. I realize that’s a little odd. Shouldn’t they be exactly the same? The more I think about it, the more I realize the answer is no. Books are more of an investment when it comes to time and full concentration. Therefore, in my mind, a disappointing book becomes more of a beast to contend with than a disappointing film. With a film, you’re out a couple of hours. With a book, you’re out at least four hours. Maybe even more if you got stuck with a middling whopper. In that case, it seems important to differentiate. Though I do use a five star system for both.

Ratings for Books

Five Stars – Any flaws I felt this had were minor or easily overlooked. I don’t believe any book can ever be perfect, but this rating isn’t about that. It’s for books that made me fangirl. Books that make me want to vomit hyperbole. Books I can barely even talk about because they’re just so good.

Four Stars – Still very good, but with flaws I couldn’t ignore. If I know when I review the book I’ll be harping on things the author did wrong, places they veered off the path, but I’m still thoroughly enjoying myself, I know it’s a four star read. These always still come highly recommended.

Three Stars – Middle of the road. Meh. Left me feeling basically nothing either way. This typically isn’t a positive stance. In fact, sometimes three star books that leave me feeling empty are worse than books that get a big, negative reaction. Though I could probably still see the side of people loving this, too.

Two Stars – Very flawed. Lots of problems. Probably would result in a touch of ranting. Most of the books I really don’t like get this rating. Because ultimately it takes some level of competence to get published at all, and it’s there in the book even with all the surrounding issues.

One Star – I don’t hand out one star ratings lightly. A book has to be truly without merit for me to say that. It has happened, but not often. If I give a book this rating, run. Run far and fast from it.

Ratings for Movies

Five Stars – Enjoyed myself completely while watching. Didn’t glance at the clock. Wasn’t waiting for the movie to be over. I was completely engrossed and lost in the story. Probably I didn’t want the story to end at all. It’s also likely that a film that receives this high praise had excellent acting, beautiful cinematography, and lots of good points.

Four Stars – My book and film ratings are similar here. A good movie with some flaws, but nothing too terrible. You should still watch it, and I still enjoyed it. I may nitpick slightly is all.

Three Stars – Good movie, but turn off your brain. Don’t look for deep meaning or grandiose symbolism. Look maybe for things to be a little sloppy and silly. Probably has plot holes or a plot that was too complicated for the simple production. Some special effects failures. But still fun, I want to emphasize. It’s a lot easier to watch a dooberish movie than to read a dooberish book.

Two Stars – Good for one viewing maybe. No rewatch value. Far too many nagging problems in the mix. Not worth owning and likely only worth checking out if you’re very intrigued.

One Star – Terrible. Don’t watch it. Again, I don’t throw one stars around like candy, so to imagine a movie that is that awful… We’re talking The Room levels of stink here.

One last note: sometimes when I write a full review of a film or book (and especially when I’m reviewing TV shows), I don’t leave a rating at the end. The reason is that my thoughts have been so thorough and nuanced, trying to sum that up in a number can feel trite. Ratings work for shorter reviews, such as in monthly wrap-ups or my triple features, but longer reviews express my feelings better than a simple rating ever could.

I hope this clears things up for you if you were at all confused about my rating systems. And as always, happy geeking!

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