Writing reviews is among my favourite activities, and I am going to post a few on this blog. Mainly books, but movies and anime are not excluded.
Even though I won’t necessarily come out with a rating of every story – I do that on Goodreads and NetGalley – when reviewing I mentally apply this scale: 0-5, with a valid 0 rating. Rating points explained as follows:
0: A mysterious object, not worth being considered a book no matter its shape may suggest otherwise. To be positioned under your table or used as disposable paper in more than one way.
1: Nothing memorable, you will be considered a cultivated person even without. Sometimes gifted with a few surprising nice pages – that make you forgive the author and keep reading on.
2: An average output – i.e., containing at least one or two areas of a high-starred one. It may be its characters. Or settings. Or actions. Or style. Something that remains with you after you are done with it. Not to be remembered in time, but enough for some hours of good entertainment.
3: A fine story. You keep the book and it will pop up in your mind even years after, especially when you read others in the same domain. If you are a structuralist fiction writer, you will use it in your pastiche. And even if you are not, because books always talk about other books, etc. etc.
4: A damn good one. You love it from the beginning to the end, and you can’t put it down until you finish. And then you start again. Also looking on Amazon for the sequel (or the prequel, as appropriate).
5: A masterpiece, something in between Dostoyevsky’s Demons and Paradise Lost (yes, Milton – poetry or not). Difficult to come across something of the kind nowadays, to be fair. But sometimes, you just end up with stories that produce the same magic – for you, at least. Who cares about the rest?
Caveat: As a writer, I know for a fact that putting down something on paper, and get to publish it, it’s thousand times more difficult than comfortably sitting on a couch, spitting sentences and churning criticism. Yes. We all know that. However, this is the way the game is played. Writers have all the right to speak (write) their mind, and, if they are fiction writers, dazzle the world with their creativity, style and amazing stories. But readers – that have taken the time, and sometimes the pain, to go through them – have equal right to say they have abhorred the experience. Nobody gets hurt – after all, everybody is happier after a good story. So I like thinking reviewers help writers publish better books. I force myself to take criticism (I get a fair share) to my own writing in this sense. It helps.