Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Book Talk: How Do You Determine What to Rate a Book?
Historical fiction is my favourite genre, as well as being the one I read most often in. As a result, it also tends to be the genre in which my standards and expectations are highest. While any book I rate highly, regardless of genre, must be well-written, have well-developed characters and an engaging plot, I generally won't give a work of historical fiction 4 stars or above unless it also satisfies the following two criteria:
(1) The novel must evoke a strong sense of both time and place (I love attention to historical detail); and
(2) The novel must be, to the greatest extent possible, historically accurate. I don't mind the odd liberty taken for the sake of a story, but major liberties turn me off.
That's not to say I don't enjoy novels that don't fulfill all of my criteria for great historical fiction, because I do, it's just that my rating of them might be lower (3 to 3.5 stars). When it comes to the fantasy genre, another favourite of mine, I look for novels that enable me to get completely lost in another world, a world that is so well-built that I have a hard time believing it's not real.
Recognizing that everyone has different tastes, and that what makes a book a great read for me won't necessarily be the same for other readers, I'd love to know what you consider when determining what rating to give a book? What elements must a book have in order for you to rate it 5 stars?