(This image selected specifically for K.C.)
Been asked a number of times to read and write spec-fiction reviews, and as I’ve agreed, I wanted to clarify my rating standard upfront. No pretense to high literary appetite or vast knowledge. It’s purely subjective.
FIVE STARS – these only go to a book that has made a profound impact on my life, or displays such mastery over the storyteller’s craft I can’t help but not give it the highest rating. You’re talking The Bible, Mere Christianity, Os Guinness’s The Call, Stephen Pressfield’s The Gates of Fire, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Shakespeare. It’s a short list.
FOUR STARS – This is a good book, one I’d keep in my library and recommend to friends and family. “Good” has many and varied definitions here. Could be exceptional prose or characterization, might be well-conceived world building, or sheer ingenuity of plot. China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, Bernard Cornwell, Gene Wolfe, Jeff VanderMeer, Joe Abercrombie, and my new favorite, Louis Bayard are some of the authors inhabiting this Ring.
THREE STARS – This is where most books fall. Competent writing, decent story and characters, worth the money, worth passing on to a like-minded friend.
TWO STARS – We’re in the basement here. If I managed to finish a novel of this caliber, it’s because it contained promise. Somewhere. Or there’s an obligation of friendship.
ONE STAR – Couldn’t finish it. Most likely I didn’t make it past ten pages, because the work wouldn’t pass a HS Freshman English Comp class. Read Joel Olson’s foul-mouthed essay I will not read your f*^!ing script. and try again.