Should the star rating system be used by all book reviewers? The short answer is no. You don’t have to have a star rating with your reviews. Well, maybe that is not true.
It all depends on where you are posting your reviews. On sites such as Goodreads or Amazon, you have to put a star rating at the bare minimum. You cannot just post a review of your thoughts. Other than that, you don’t have to have stars. You can avoid them completely.
The star system is relatively simple. The standard seen online is comprised of five stars.
1 star = This books sucks
2 star = Has potential
3 star = Okay
4 star = I really liked
5 star = This is amazing!
Unless otherwise stated, this is the standard key to the star ratings used on most sites. Any site that has a different rating should state that for the reader. This aids the reader in understanding at a glance the reviewer’s thoughts on the book.
Some people think only five stars is a good rating, but if you follow the standard above it is not. I have had authors tell me that if they don’t get a five star review the reader hated their book. Not true. I can like a book and not give a five star. Here’s how I see it. If the book is so good that I think about long after I’ve read it and just have to tell others, it is a five star book. If I read a 100 books, most will not be five star. The number of five star reviews I have in a 100 books I’ve read should actually be a small percentage.
Pros and Cons
The star system of reviewing a book makes it quick and easy to see how a book was received. Without it, reviewers have to actually read the review. It is a quick and visual way to express the thoughts of a book. If you are in a hurry, stars are a quick way to pick a book.
Then there the big con. The problem with stars is that not everyone interprets them the same. Some only see five stars as being a good review. Not everyone is on the same page when it comes to the star rating system. I’ve known some readers who skip over any review that is not five star. They might miss out on a great read.
We all have our personal preferences. For me, I think stars should be avoided in reviews on your own website, but I can see the value on sites such as Amazon. Stars are quick to help guide.
It is all up to the reviewer. If you go with the star system, explain your system so that you and the readers who find your review are on the same page. If you don’t use a star system, give a thorough review so the reader can see exactly your thoughts on the book.