Steve Cox
Steve Cox asked:

I am new to Goodreads and I'm unsure about the five star rating system. Is there a standard definition for the stars? Am I using the system the same as everyone else? Is one star rubbish, or of some merit, but just not as much as two stars? Does five stars mean the book is perfect or just that I can't think of any improvements necessary to it? Also, am I asking this question in the right place?

C. (Never msg. Just comment! Email if private.) There are more ideal locations but I saw it and am happy to help. Five-star feedback isn't solely Goodreads but the standard review scale in many places. 1 is lowest and 5 is highest, so we work with that and gauges can be personalized. My advice is that you assess enjoyment first and foremost. A book can be something you're surprised to find yourself reading but if you are zooming through it with pleasure and nothing irritated in the writing style, or made you groan in content; it's a 5/5. It doesn't matter if it isn't a classic! It's about enjoyment.

An example for the other spectrum: I saw someone give "The Xilbaba Murders" 1 star because they thought "the heroine made stupid decisions". It got 5 stars from me and Lyn Hamilton became my favourite author of all time. I feel she should have detracted 1 point for what annoyed her and 1 point for not enjoying it a great deal, because 4/5 is still high praise. She should have credited the outrageous originality of the mystery, the realistic cultural portrayal, and the professional research that clearly went into it all.

2 stars are still terrible, 4 stars are still excellent. 3 stars are the middle ground, where reviewers personalize decisions most. I have loved books, or their concepts but given 3 stars because of irritants or not enough enthusiasm for it to be a favourite. I have loathed books but given 3 stars because I had to praise or recognize other talent or uniqueness.

Just never dock a star for "not being what you expected", which it isn't any author's job to do! Never for being "outdated", because a book is always current when published and can't help the continuance of time! The final reviewer faux-pas is docking a star because "I figured out the murderer". No. Guessing 'culprit A, B, or C' does not mean you figured out the entire motive, back history, psychology, and plot and none of this amounts to a poor book. Enjoyment is our truest gauge, which can defy convention anytime. A reader's misinformation has too often penalized authors so.... you made a good move to ask! :)
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