Hello everyone! ♥ Welcome to another discussion post. Today I want to talk about double standards in rating books. I thought at first it was just me, but now I’m pretty sure it’s not just me. Wait, I should give you some contexts 😛 Ever heard or read these statements before?
“I don’t normally give 5-stars to contemporary books”
“I’ve never given a contemporary book 5 stars before”
There’s even a meme about it.
My two favorite genres are contemporary and fantasy and I read both daily. But when it comes to rating and reviewing, I feel like I’m (or should I say we are?) a bit unfair at giving ratings.
I read Tell Me Three Things a couple days ago. I absolutely loved it and even if there’s flaw, it’s not significant and no way changes how I feel about the book. I rated it 5-stars, at first. But then I proceeded to write my review and before I hit publish I decided to change my rating into 4-stars. WHY, you asked? There’s nothing wrong with the book. But unconsciously, I was comparing the book with my other 5-star reads on my mind, like Crooked Kingdom. And I thought there was no way this book could earn the same stars as CK. That’s why I decided to change the rating.
Talk about unfairness. It’s like, if a fantasy book is so great that the flaws don’t matter, I would rate it 5 stars with no doubt. But when a contemporary is that great, I rate it (mostly) 4 stars, unless it’s COMPLETELY mind blowing. Like my 4-stars for fantasy isn’t the same as my 4-stars for contemporary. And apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so. I mean, looking at the statements above, it seems like a contemporary needs to be at least twice as great to earn the same ratings as fantasy.
For me, a fantasy book is always more ‘productive’. It has A LOT of other elements that books from other genres (except probably dystopian/sci-fi) don’t have, such as world building and plot twists.
WORLD BUILDING is a really vital element from a book and it is one of those elements that could make or break a book. If there’s no world building, or the world building is super vague, I’ll be very likely to rate it low. But when the world building is flawless and the plot not so much, I’d still give the book an extra star for world building alone. I was instantly in love with all Victoria Schwab’s books because her world building is just incredible.
On the contrary, contemporary doesn’t have world building. Almost all of contemporary books are set in high school. I mean, of course it takes a lot of work too, authors don’t just throw random high school into the story. They have to do research and imagine everything. But still, it’s simpler. It seems that fantasy takes a lot more work and I just can’t rate them the same (and believe me I feel bad about it).
Fantasy books are known of their incredible PLOTS AND THE TWISTS. Plot twists are mind blowing because they suprise me. I love to be surprised. On the other hand, contemporary doesn’t have this element. Most contemporaries have predictable plot. High school problems, lovers quarrels, best friends trouble, family issues. I’m not saying these issues are less important (because it’s not, it’s REAL), but most of the stories are predictable. Most of them end happily, which is totally fine by me, because I don’t read contemporary expecting some major twist or something.
On top of these two elements, fantasy still has what contemporaries do, such as love interest, family issues, diverse characters, FEELS, etc. So fantasy is like contemporary + all the other cool, magical elements ♣
The question is, is it really fair to compare different genres like this and then base my rating on it? I know it’s not. And I’ll give you a list as an explanation 😛
- Contemporary and fantasy (and science fiction and dystopia and historical fiction and basically every other ones) are each very different, independent genres. Each genre has its own characteristics, so theoretically, we can’t rate them based on the same standards
- In my case, in which I basically rate books using my standard for fantasy, it’s like saying that a contemporary will never be as good as fantasy. Which is SILLY because like I said, they’re just different.
- And being different doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the others.
And yet… YET I still feel like it’s unfair to rate them the same, which clearly is unfair because they’re not the same?? I don’t know, are you following me? I think I’m confusing myself, this topic is more difficult to write that I thought it would be :’)
BOTTOM LINE IS, I fully understand that every genre has its own standards and it’s probably unfair to rate them based on my standard for one particular genre, yet I still have trouble doing it. I still feel… reluctant (?) to easily rate contemporary books 5-stars because in my mind I keep comparing them to my 5-star fantasy books. So yes, I realized I’m some kind of a bit unfair rater. But seeing how people say they almost never rate a contemporary 5-stars, I assume it’s not just me who feel and/or do so 😛
To wrap it all up, I’ll present you some of my 5-star contemporary reads. It’s not easy for me to throw away 5-stars, so you know it’s legit 😛
P.S. I decided to rate Tell Me Three Things 5-stars! It’s just so good ♥
LET’S TALK! (1) Do you do this too, or do you have different standard for each genre? P.S. This question applies to every genre you can relate to, not just contemporary & fantasy. (2) I noticed a lot of people (like me) don’t normally rate contemporary 5-stars. But don’t you think contemporary books deserve to get their own 5-stars? (3) Are they really lacking of some things or are we just being too harsh on it? I’d love to hear all your thoughts! ♥
Also, have you read the books on my recommendations? If you have, do you like them? If you haven’t, I definitely encourage you to! They’re awesome 😀 and as usual, I’m open to any recommendations! ♦♦♦
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