I’m a bit torn over 5 star reviews. You see them all the time on Amazon and Twitter (because authors will hype how many 5 star reviews they have)… but they bother me.
To me, a 5 star review means the book was absolutely perfect, that nothing could have been improved. I believe a book that is super good should get only 4 stars, leaving the 5 star ratings for books that blew my mind. On the right hand column of this page, I’ve got the widget with my Goodreads books — if you click on it and follow through to my list, you’ll see 50-something books or so, with only about three or four with a 5 star rating from me. Even then, I hemmed and hawed over whether it was truly worth the 5 stars, or if a 4 would suit it better.
For me to give a book a 5 star rating, it has to be perfectly balanced in terms of narrative, action, tension, style, tone, and so on. If anything is slightly off, it automatically drops to a 4. In my opinion, very few books are that perfectly balanced. Here’s the thing — I love reading and I love books — and I enjoy reading most of the books that I read… but I’m still stingy with the 5s. I feel a book has to work hard to earn a 5.
As a reader, the 5 star reviews mean nothing to me. If someone is giving a book a five star review, then the comments will all be glowing and praising, not discussing the book’s strengths and weaknesses. I feel I get a much better sense of how a book will be if I read the 4 and 3 star reviews.
I generally ignore the 1 star reviews, as they register in my mind as being the opposite of the 5s. 1s will be entirely negative and just slam the book… not discussing its strengths and weaknesses.
What do you think? Do you rate books as 5 stars? Does the number of 5 star reviews matter when you buy a book?