Have you ever finished a book, only to be struck with a rush of anger? You start to think about all the things you almost loved. All the things that were thisclose to being amazing. All the ways you could have just raved about the book, if only it had fully realized it’s potential.
This seems to be the case with so many of my 3-star reviews, and apparently I’m not alone:
So many of my 3 star books involve 90% complaints and 10% happiness. You’d think there’d be a better balance – Bookmark Lit
So why the anger? Why is a 3-star read so much more frustrating than a 1 or 2-star read? Because they had so many opportunities to be better!
So many chances to change my mind, and encourage me to give them at least 4 stars. But then I get writing about what didn’t work, trying to justify why I had to knock off a couple stars, and before I know it I have a full review of everything that didn’t work.
But 3-Stars is a Positive Rating, Right?
For me, 3-stars means that the book was “good, but not particularly memorable.” Which means I should have a lot to say about what did work. I should be able to rave about what went well, and only touch briefly on the things that bothered me. And sometimes, that does happen! Sometimes I finish my review and wonder, so why isn’t this getting at least a 4-star rating? And then I realize it’s because the read fell on the “not particularly memorable” side of my rating scale.
“Not particularly memorable” reads don’t give me a chance to get angry with them. They’re good reads – I enjoyed them while I was reading them. But when I’m not moved by the plot, when I don’t connect with the characters, when I’m not left with any kind of lasting impression, I almost always default to 3-stars as my baseline.
So when does a 3-star review really grind my gears? When it falls on the “good” side of the scale. Where it could have been great if only certain things had been tweaked, omitted or improved upon. When it was oozing with untapped potential that, in the end, was wasted by not being reached.
Do you ever find that you’re
unreasonably angry with your 3-star reviews? Or that your reviews end up being mostly negative, despite enjoying the book?