This is how I rate the books I read:
Cover and Title
The old adage ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’ probably comes to mind but the truth is, the cover is the first thing that is judged. And authors know it too. That’s why the cover is the first thing that is released right after the title is. And as soon as the cover is released the book gets a barrage of comments, guesses and votes by the reader. Pictures capture the average human’s mind so much more quickly and effectively than a page of writing ever will.
That’s why in my reviews, the cover appears right after the title and the name of the author/authoress. But why do I rate book covers? And on what basis?
First impressions are the last impressions.
And nowhere is this truer than in the book world. If the book cover’s dull,boring,ugly or just plain weird, chances are I’m not going to even pick the book up. In the case of a book, a picture is worth much more than a thousand words. The average book consists of much more than a thousand words. And for most people (me included), if the cover isn’t beautiful, they’ll never give the text a chance.
But a cover has to be a description of the content inside. In a post-apocalyptic book which is run over by zombies, the last thing that should be on the cover is a pretty princess in a sparkling ball gown. Yes, I’ve actually seen covers like this! Not only is it pure stupid, its misleading. If you have to rely on a pretty but inaccurate cover to lure your readers in then it doesn’t matter how good your book is;You lead them there on false pretenses and your rating is going to suffer for it.
So my book cover rating is based on how pretty it is and on how much it delivers.
The plot section of my review is divided into two parts-the plot premise and whether the plot premise is actually a part of the book.
So what kind of premise do I want? I’m not looking for miracles here. I want a fresh and new idea, a promise of some juicy adventure and a good non-cheesy introduction to a book that leaves me curious and eager to read the book. On second thoughts, maybe it would be easier to ask for a miracle. Anyways these things account for a measly 2 out of five stars. More important to me, is how in-context a plot premise is.
Too often have I seen an amazing premise completely wasted because the author/authoress focuses too much on the action. Or maybe he/she’ll focus too much on the romance or the world building. My point is, the amazing story premise is just wasted because the author/authoress wasn’t able to balance all the aspects of a story. Or maybe, he/she did the opposite. Maybe they focused too little on the innovative and brilliant part of the plot that drew me in in the first place and instead focused on the dull and the mundane parts that everybody’s written about a million times.
The characters can make or break a book. Sometimes they can do both at the same time (think Elizabeth Norris’ Cracked). What readers want (or at least I do) are strong, independent, intelligent characters who are relatable and admirable at the same time. When I say relatable, I don’t mean a whiny,stupid (sorry, but its true) little girl who doesn’t know what’s going on but complains about her perfectly ‘average’ appearance anyways. And when I say admirable, I don’t mean a perfect Mary-Sue who’s smart,kind, beautiful, humble, talented and gifted at the same time. No, just no.
Please remember that the characters have to be like real people. By relatable I mean that they have to be the sort of people you could imagine sitting next to in the bus or passing by on the streets. They can have some character quirks but they can’t completely be made out of character quirks. By admirable, I mean they have to be the sort of person who reminds us of the best humanity has to offer. But ultimately they have to remain human too (I mean this figuratively not literally. Even if they’re vampires or animals, they still need to be somewhat ‘human’.)
The same rules apply for supporting characters. Just because they’re background characters for this story doesn’t mean they’re always background characters. Supporting characters are real characters too. They deserve to be more than 2-dimensional. There are no small characters in books, only small parts.
And here is where most young adult books fail. A good test for this would be to take away all the romance and examine the story afterwards. Let me try with a few well-known Young Adult books.
Twilight- if you take the love story out of this book, it becomes a story in which a girl with little self-preservation moves to a ten where it rains. A lot. Boring
The Hunger Games- without the romance, it’s a book about a evil dystopian government which hosts a Hunger Games every year. In the Hunger Games 24 children fight to their deaths until only one is left. The winner earns fame and riches for the rest of their lives.see what I mean? Even without the romance, it’s still pretty interesting.
I’m not completely against romance. I can enjoy it in small, good quality doses. What I mean to say is that the romance should never become the major plot of the book. A little romance in the background is great but you know its going to be a horrible story when the protagonist thinks something like this. ‘I think I love guy XYZ. He’s so sweet and charming. He really loves me too and he shows it in the cutest of ways. But wait, what about guy ABC? He says he loves me too. He’s a bit creepy but he’s so hawt. I can’t believe he loves me! But I can’t cheat with him on guy XYZ. He’s so sweet and charming. He really loves me too and he shows it in the cutest of ways…’ and on and on. That kind of love is unhealthy. Besides, its repetitive and boring to read about.
Some books have action and some books don’t. It would be unfair of me to discriminate between such books. Even though I’m the sort of girl who loves action, one of my favorite books Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. And it has a distinct lack of fight scenes. In fact, it would be weird if contemporary books like Rainbow Rowell’s had action scenes.
But I’m a discerning person. If there are fight scenes, i want quality ones. No ‘he cut him with a knife’ or ‘he screamed’. I want something…a little more descriptive.
Show me; Don’t tell me.
The main rules here are:
1.) be creative
2.) don’t infodump
And I use these as my criterion for rating the worldbuilding. At the end of the book, I want to remember the world. Use whatever means you have to. If you want to use cute and innovative terms like Scott Westerfeld did in Uglies, go ahead. If you want to create a creepy government like Marie Lu did in Legend, be my guest. If the book’s consistent with the above rules, it’ll get a high rating from me for sure.
If there are any unhealthy messages conveyed in the book or any gaping flaws (holes!) in the logic of the plot, I’ll mention it here. Nothing ruins the reading experience more than plotholes. If it seems like the author/authoress is withholding essential/too much information from their readers for the sake of the sequel, I’ll complain about that too. Depending on how bad this is, I’ll give this section a rating between 1-5.
In the book-reviewing world, not all criterion are equal but some are more equal than others.
I don’t just take the average of all the above ratings. No, that would be too easy. There are some things which are more important to me. For example, I care about the plot, characters and world building more than I care about the plotholes and action. And I care infinitely more about the plotholes and action than I do about the romance and book cover. Its all adjusted for in my system.
How do you rate and rank your books