What I don’t get is why people can’t just be honest, say what they think and stand by it. The star rankings on Goodreads (and the same goes for everywhere else) are:
1 star – did not like it
2 stars – it was okay
3 stars – I liked it
4 stars – I really liked it
5 stars – it was amazing
Kids are different. We’re oh so protective of our offspring. We don’t mind if people don’t like us but woe betide anyone who doesn’t like our kids. And what more common metaphor exists for books than babies? We nurse them for years and then send then out into the world to face all those scary reviewers. Some of whom don’t like them. The thing about parents—and I am one—is that although we want the world to like our kids we’re rarely under any illusions about them; we know their failings. As far as I’m aware most people like my daughter. She’s never told me about anyone not liking her but maybe there are a few people out there who don’t find her as disarmingly charming as I do. Then there’s her husband who thinks she’s amazing, which is all that really matters.
I don’t give many books 5-star reviews. I didn’t even give my own first novel five stars on Goodreads. I really like my book but it’s not amazing. ‘Amazing’ should mean something. At the end of my review I wrote:
Oh, only 4 stars? That's because I've read my next three novels and I know I get better besides I'm pretty mean with stars at the best of times.
Looking back on Goodreads the last few 5-star reviews I’ve given have been for the following:
The Kiln – William McIlvanney
Docherty – William McIlvanney
Look at Me – Anita Brookner
The Ghost Writer – Philip Roth
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
A Man’s Hands – Andrew McCallum Crawford
All I’m saying is: Think about what you’re doing when you’re reviewing. Readers aren’t idiots and if they see a book with nothing but 5-star reviews their spider-sense start tingling: If it looks too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true.