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Oct 21, 2013

M.E. Monday RANT #40–Stop Hatin' on 3-STAR Reviews!


Truth is, I give most books I read three or four stars. Why? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Because most books aren’t worth five stars. It’s just the truth and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Over the last few months, I’ve reviewed several books on my book blog, DJ’s Book Corner. I get lots of emails from authors thanking me for reviews or asking me to further elaborate on something I said in one of my reviews. As long as they’re not asking me to change anything about my original review, I actually have no problem with doing this. But one email made me raise a brow. 

The author thanked me for taking the time to review their book and said they really appreciated how thorough I was. But they also said they don’t freak out over negative reviews and that they would take everything I said into consideration.


I gave this book 3 STARS. How is that a negative review? I guess this would depend on what others define as “negative”. But on my blog it says that a 3-STAR rating means “I liked it. Had some issues.” 

So I say again...what?

I’m not going to name names or anything, but believe me, the review was not negative. I did as any good reviewer would. I talked highs and lows, good shit and bad. I rambled on about the characters, pacing, and the overall plot. I even mentioned an interest in the second book. Trust me, if I really dislike the first book in a series, I ain’t reading the rest of ‘em!

Nothing against the author though, because I see this a lot. Authors really think 3-STAR ratings are B.A.D. No, people. 1 and 2-STAR ratings are bad. 3-STARS are G.O.O.D. A lot of authors (and readers) see a 3-STAR review and immediately write a book off. 

Why do you do this??? 

Those are the books you need to check out. Books with all 5-STAR ratings are the gambles and chances are, you’ll probably lose big. I have. Many times. Example? City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I gave it 3-STARS when it probably deserved two. It had its strong points but the amount of 5-STAR reviews of this book are misleading. It ain’t all that, believe me.

Brings up another point. Does anyone else besides myself feel like people give books high ratings simply because everyone else is giving the book a high rating and they don’t want to be the odd reviewer out? I think so. In fact, I know so. I found myself about to do it for a couple of popular books before and stopped myself like “WOAH. What the hell are you doing?” Most will deny they do this, but some will be like “Damn. She’s talking about me.”

Yup. I know.

But to get back to the point. 3-STAR ratings are NOT bad. The only time they have a negative impact is when the review doesn’t match the rating. Either the reviewer gave a really great review and a lower rating, or a negative review and a higher rating. I know most authors won’t complain about the latter, but it doesn’t do an author any good really. Once people read the review, they’ll see how off the rating is and pass judgment that way. Not a good look for you as an author, let alone the reviewer.

Bottom line? Stop hatin'! A 3-STAR review from ME is a positive. I rarely write 5-STAR reviews and those books that I do rate that high, absolutely deserve it. So just think twice about brushing off a 3-STAR rating. Really dig into the review and understand what the reviewer is saying about the book, before you throw up your hands and call it a “bust”.



  1. HECK YEAH. A good majority of my reviews are three stars, and yeah, that means I liked it. So many people act like it's a terrible thing, though! I'm so disappointed by that attitude - sometimes I even wonder if star ratings are reliable or even worth it. Like, maybe if we didn't do star ratings it be easier to classify books? I don't know about you, but lately I've been having trouble picking a rating.

    And totally. I think that people are afraid of the haters, so they rate it higher. It's like... this need to follow the people or something? I don't know. I hope that I don't do that, though. The proof is in the books I hate! ;P (Also, City of Bones was a 3 for me too.) Awesome post, girly! Glad that you spoke up about this. <3

    1. Without star ratings, people would actually have to read reviews, which I think would be much more effective in choosing books that fit their tastes and likes. I'm down for it whenever the industry realizes how useless star ratings are.

      I follow you and read lots of your reviews. You're sort of like me. It takes a lot to get us hype! *LOL* Glad someone else called CoB for the "just okay" book it was! Thanks for swinging by, lady!

  2. Thank you!!!!! I, too, reserve 5-star ratings for a book that is just sensational!!! It has to really move or surprise me, be one that I am thinking about long after I have finished reading it, or one that I can't wait to go back and reread. I am amazed by people who think anything less is a bad review.

    I had my own work reviewed on a blog tour and was flattered by all the high star reviews I was receiving. After following those reviewers for a time, I have realized that they give virtually everything 4 and 5 stars. Somehow I can't believe that they are finding all these super books to read!

    When choosing a book, I do go and look at ratings. But I go to the 2-3 star ratings and see what people liked and disliked about the book. I have found that works really well for me and I have a better expectation about what I am getting,

    So, thank you, thank you, thank you, for telling it like it is. And just for the record...I gave CoB 2 stars. It was just okay. :)

    1. 2 stars eh? Congratulations. You are SANE ;)

      I too have noticed the ones that give most books high ratings just because they don't want to be seen as "hardcore". Ha! I WANT to be known that way *LOL* But regardless, I have respect for reviewers despite the rating as long as they clearly explain why they gave that rating. I hate 5 star ratings where half of the review talks about things they hated about the book WHAAAA??? I've never understood that *LOL*

  3. I am a reviewer with my own website and I recently posted a 3 star (3.25 I gave) review at Amazon and Goodreads etc. for a book I reviewed for a blog tour. The author contacted the blog tour operator and demanded that I remove my review from all sites as well as my own review site stating that she was 'guaranteed' only positive reviews and my 3.25 star review was not positive. According to the blog tour operator-the 'author ripped her a new one' and demanded that the review be removed from all sites.

    I will say that the book did have some issues: character development (none) and too quick to finish (300 page build up that ended in 3 paragraphs) as well as a heroine whose personality was so ping pong it was aggravating. I noted some of the problems in my review but I also said that it was an interesting storyline and build up.

    I will point out that many blog tour operators are now telling reviewers that if the review is anything less than a 3.5 or 4 star review NOT to post with the blog tour but wait until the tour is over. This screams control and I have issues with the demands of authors only allowing 4-5 star reviews. There was also one author who demanded only 5 star reviews. I have a policy outline on my website that states: we do not guarantee a positive review. I also give all of my reviewers the option of not posting a review if the book is so poorly written that there is nothing positive to write. We then contact the author and give them the option of whether or not we post the review, as I feel it is not my responsibility to destroy an author's hard work.

    I would also like to point out that many of the 'Street Teams' and 'alpha/beta' readers for some authors feel obligated to post 4-5 star reviews to stay on these teams. There is NO order or demand, but the author pushes for 4-5 star reviews to keep their books on the top of the 'list' at amazon and goodreads. Also, I have spoken with a few street team members who feel obligated because they receive books for free from the authors and believe the author would be disappointed. It is as though they do not want to disappoint the author because many become 'virtual online' friends and this makes it difficult to be objective.

    In the end, I didn't remove my review from the review sites, but I amended it and removed some of the 'harsher' points. I am disappointed in myself and the author because I feel it is now misleading= but my review basically outlines the storyline premise and doesn't say anything else and I changed my 3.25 stars to a 3 star.

    We have all seen the posts about book banning and issues of content etc but I would rank an author's demand to remove a less than 4-5 star review in a similar category. Yes, it is the reviewers choice whether to remove or amend the review, but when the blog tour operator is 'threatened' over a review, I felt disheartened. I will not read any of this author's future books although I don't expect to be

  4. I review non-fiction for a national magazine. Recently I turned in a 3-star review of a book that had some very fine points but wasn't clear about the audience it was trying to attract. My editor told me to cut about 300 words, because "we don't want to give that much space to a book we're effectively going to pan." I did the cuts, but all the while I was thinking, "What?? I didn't consider that a pan at all! I just pointed out there were some issues."

    I also seldom give 5-star reviews. I think it's part and parcel of growing up in a culture where it was super, super hard to earn an "A" in school. You really had to deserve it. I think a lot of people who don't read critically hand out 5 stars as a matter of course. What really, really gets me is those "top reviewers" on sites like Amazon who take their blurbs directly from a book's back cover and add nothing at all of their own. It makes me wonder if they've even read what they're purporting to review.

    For an author to demand you remove a less than 5-star review is reprehensible. It's like my (English teacher) husband's students demanding that he change their grades when they haven't rewritten their papers.

  5. When I'm not sure whether to buy a book, I'll go look at the 3* reviews. If they're mostly favorable, I'll usually go ahead and buy it. That's where you'll find a serious airing of any issues the book has. If I don't have issues with the issues (heh), but there were good points, I'm ready to go.

    I did give a book 5* recently, because it kept nagging me to go back and read it some more, read it some more, ONE MORE CHAPTER DANGIT. That, or the author doing something really audacious and pulling it off, are the two things that prompt me to give a book top ranking.

    Then there are the authors who get all pissy on Amazon over a "bad" review, and just won't let go. I got pointed to one of those on Twitter today. *facepalm*


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