The 1 star debate

The  only reason I rate a book 1 star is if I cannot bear to finish it.


I might cringe right from the start of a book, but I still give it a chance to wow me until the 20% mark or so, sometimes less if I cringe really, really badly. Past this mark, if I still feel cheated, this is a guaranteed 1 star.

This is different to the book that “isn’t for me”, which I wouldn’t rate, because it would be unfair to the author.

The 1 star book for me, is the one where the characters are stereotypical, flat, immature and unrealistic. The plot would be a re-write of storylines used in other books (and done poorly at that) or so boring that nothing happens. The writing style can be decent, but it wouldn’t matter at this point.


I rarely give a book 2 or 3 stars though, probably because I tend to be a creature of extremes: either I like something, or I don’t. In a way, it would be easier for me if we had the choice between 2 ratings only: like or dislike. End of.

Some people manage to read a book until the end, and yet still deem that book 1 star. I do not understand this. If this was so awful, how did they manage to plough on? Surely they would have found some redeeming qualities in the story to be able to do it, unless they have a masochist streak? Or do they secretly like the satisfaction of criticizing a story in detail? Some 1 star reviews are written with so much wit and are so polished that it wouldn’t surprise me.

And we come to an unequivocal truth: those reviews are more fun to read than the glowing ones…Come on, don’t deny it. You too love reading them. 😉


But let’s be honest.

1 star ratings are as biased as 5 star ratings. What one reader will hate (me for example, characters I cannot connect with is a deal breaker, over a weak plot) will be another’s delight. Some readers love the cliché heroes and heroines…


I might never understand that, but I guess it’s our differences that make the world go round.

Why do you give 1 star to books? And do you read those till the end?

12 thoughts on “The 1 star debate

  1. I tend to read books completely and then give them one star if that’s how I feel. Most of the time it’s because I have some reason to believe it will turn around, for example I’ve read previous books in the series and loved them or its come highly recommended from someone I trust, but usually I finish it because if I’m going to give you a one star review I want to be able to say it’s based on your complete work and not a portion. I know there are authors out there that wish I would have just put the book down and kept my mouth shut…sorry guys!


  2. I don’t star books, since it’s either loved it or DNF. But movies are aasy to watch even if they suck, and I’d one star the ones that are so bad tey piss me off. I they’re just boring and flat, I’m fine with a two star, but if I want ro crawl out of my skin from sheer life-wastingness, that’s a 1. 🙂


  3. I never get how people manage to finish a book and still give it a 1 star rating, although I assume it has something to do with them either having a hard time DNF’ing a book or maybe hoping it will get better. I know some bloggers who easily DNF and also some who hardly ever DNF.

    I sometimes DNF a book before the 20%, sometimes you just know when a book isn’t for you early one, but I also have DNF’d book as late as 40% or father when I still had hope it would improve and eventually just give up.
    I don’t rate DNF’s as I somehow find it weird to rate a book I didn’t finish, so I set that as my policy for DNF’s to not rate them. All books I didn’t enjoy I feel like it just wasn’t a book for me, as there are always people who do like a book. No matter which book you look at there will be people who like it and some who don’t. Reading is so subjective.

    When I consider reading a book I often look at some 3 star or lower rating to see what people didn’t enjoy about it. If those are the same things I don’t like I might think twice before adding a book to my to-read list.


    1. You are so much kinder that I am. Although in my defense, I only rate 1 star to books who “can take it”, as in, they already have thousands of reviews and my rating would not damage their overall score. If it’s a small fry of an author who has produced something terrible, I abstain from rating them, but I think (I KNOW) it’s because I’m a small fry too and at our level, a harsh critic can only be taken personally. When you sell thousands, I feel that ruthless criticism doesn’t affect so much.
      I know, I’m a hypocrite.


  4. What’s worse is if you want to give a 1 star, but the author is a friend of yours. Ouch. I’ve been in that shoe before. Just once, but once was enough to know it sucks. Do you lie to the author or the other readers? I actually haven’t given a 1 star yet. As someone who has gotten them, with extremely harsh reviews to follow, I don’t know if I could give one. Lol


    1. That has happened to me too…she wasn’t a friend though, since we’d only exchanged a few messages, but I had bought her book with the intention of giving her a review to boost her profile. Anyway, this was really, really bad. I’m glad I never told her I bought the book, and I simply didn’t rate/review.
      And she hasn’t been in touch ever since.
      I only give 1 star to books who already have thousands of ratings, because I feel that at this point, the author would just be laughing with his/her middle finger up “who cares, I sold enough to buy myself a house in the Bahamas, sucker!” When the author only has a handful of reviews, I keep schtum.
      I’m a hypocrite. I know. But I think small time authors like me deserve encouragement to improve, not life and soul destroying critic. I always favoured the carrot to the stick! 🙂


  5. I absolutely agree with everything you’ve written in this post. I generally can’t finish 1 star books, but I won’t rate a book if I know it’s only because of my personal taste. Your pictures cracked me up 🙂 ♥


      1. See, again I agree with you. It’s hard to be critical for something that has been gifted. In general, I try to add a comment so that it’s clear why I struggled with it. I also let the author know I’m doing it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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