Two different things, evaluating a book and having an opinion of it, I think. Hmmm... "opinion" probably wasn't the best word to use there.
Whether I "like" a book or not is purely a visceral response for me. There are some prerequisites such as the grammar and overall use of the language mustn't drive me crazy! (This is primarily why I no longer am even tempted to read Indies.) Other than that, though, you'd be amazed as the, um, "low caliber" books that I've enjoyed (and even re-read often.) That "feeling" I represent in my star ratings -
"0" - IMO, the book should be removed from shelves and never again be seen by the human eye. Yes - I have "awarded" this level to some documents masquerading as "books." This is not a censorship statement, this is an absolutely-devoid-of-merit statement.
"1"- Usually "awarded" when the actual technical aspects of writing were so awful that I could hardly bear the book. This provokes a deeply visceral reaction in me!
"2"- Here is where I get more emotional - The work didn't accomplish what the author intended. I just didn't like it and found little if anything to admire in the work. I am especially prone to grant this "award" to author of series who start phoneing in the next issue, for example.
"3" - Almost all my awards go in this bucket: I found the read to be enjoyable and/or it met its purpose (I read a LOT of non-fiction); I found it worthy of recommending to others; I would read more by this author.
"4" - Oh boy - something about this work really moved me; It will, unless something extraordinary is involved in the work, meet my criteria for excellent writing and I experienced a real thrill from the read.
"5"- Of the multiple 1000s of books I've read in my long life, I've awarded 5 stars to no more than 12 books. These are books that just overwhelmed me (they all happen to be fiction) and have that some nebulous and inexplicable quality that makes me just amazed at all of the story, the writing, the characters, the message, etc. This is the "magical" time for me. It is very odd but I may not even really like a book but would still be almost compelled to grant 5 stars. I have to admit that I am stingy in this area though and usually give such a work the 4 star rating. I think if an author can really make me hate a character without making that character a farcical villain, then the author has really accomplished something. One of the books (no villain) that moved me (gave it 4 stars though) in this way was White Oleander - http://www.shelfari.com/books/11938/White-Oleander . I just didn't "like" ANY of the characters in that book but the writing was so impressive that I couldn't put it down. There is another book however, (one of the low-caliber types) that I despised thoroughly BECAUSE there was not one character (human or canine) in that entire book that even understood the concept of integrity. I felt is was a written form of Married, with Children which added dogs. However, the writing was very very good. Hated that book and all it represented about what Americans find acceptable and humorous. Sigh. OK - off my soap box now.
However, if I am asked specifically to do an evaluation of the book, I use Red Adept's model. It helps me think of various aspects of the craft and its presentation in the work under consideration. This does apply to fiction. I modify it somewhat for non-fiction. I don't often agree to do this kind of thing any more but the framework sticks in my head when I reading anyway. Each element gets its own star rating and, if I am doing a pre-publication review, I will also offer suggestions about corrections or areas of attention I believe would bring up the rating of that particular area.
Rating ala movie style:
Sorry - guess I had diarrhea of the keyboard or something! This reply is too long!
posted 2 years ago. ( permalink )