General Post

Discussion: Rating “Bad” Books You Love

Hello my book peeps! I’ve spent January trying to come up with various discussion posts; instead of trying to determine what might be popular topics I decided to go with questions I’ve been curious of myself and would like input on from other readers, bloggers, and authors. While sometimes discussions will be controversial, I only ask that we keep everything civil and respectful here; otherwise, opposing ideas, views, and opinions are welcome! I wanted to start off with a thought that has been eating away in the back of my mind for some time now… HOW DO YOU RATE BAD BOOKS THAT YOU LOVE?

Maybe I should clarify. I’m talking about those books that are bad, not from a moral sense, but just bad in terms of writing and plot. Maybe these books are completely predictable, use all the tropes reviewers love to hate on, or are just cheesy as all get out. Examples of these types of books for me are The Unbecoming Of Mara DyerThe Twilight Series, and The ACOTAR Series. Obviously none of these books are intellectually stimulating or cover current events that need discussing; they are 100% fluffy entertainment that I’m unashamed to say that I devoured. HOWEVER! How should this affect our rating scale? Do you rate the books high because you ate them up and found them compulsive and enjoyable? Do you adjust your rating scale because, while you devoured them, the other shortcomings in terms of lack of ingenuity and writing quality keep them from rating on the level of books you loved that also contained qualities of literary genius?

Now, how about those books that are compulsive and “unputdownable”, yet ARE problematic? I’m thinking specifically of ones such as Erin Watt’s Royals Series where the relationships that are featured and even glorified are harmful and abusive. These are the types of books that romanticize unhealthy relationships yet we can’t seem to stop reading them because the drama is so juicy and the writing is so enticing. Again, I ask, how do these types of books rank in your scale? I used a romance series as an example here but this could also extend to books lacking various types of diversity, ones that promote views of racism or homophobia.

***Do you have any specific books or series that come to mind while thinking of “Bad books that you love”? How do you fit them on your rating scale? 

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45 thoughts on “Discussion: Rating “Bad” Books You Love”

  1. Such a good discussion piece Chelsea. For me my rating is focused on my enjoyment, a 5 star rating for me is if i’ve not been able to put a book down, i’ve enjoyed the plot, characters and need to finish it then and there so I wouldn’t say i’m an overly critical reviewer. If the writing is poor to the point I can’t enjoy the book, I find it slow etc then that’s when I become more critical.
    If a book is also problematic and I find it problematic in a glorified way then I would think I reflect that in my reviews, that being said we all find different things problematic and poorly written. I still adored 50 Shades trilogy and twilight, 50 Shades I could read over and over again and rate 5 stars because I get so hooked on the story between Ana and Christian.

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  2. I rate books on how into them I am so if I devoured a book and loved it I will give it a high rating but if I noticed anything in the book that was bad I would mention that in my review and just be like despite “insert problem here” I couldn’t help but be sucked into this book.

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  3. Hmm I think for me entertainment is usually top of my list. There are plenty of books that are considered “good” for the prose and characters, but if I find it boring and have to push myself to finish I’ll end up being meh about it with the review. If there is content that is decidedly problematic or riddled with tropes, I’ll still usually give a fair or good review if the problems don’t weigh the book down too heavily.

    I guess if I were to try and think of books that I LOVED but objectively they’re bad would be The Kite Runner. It starts off strong, I got insanely invested in the characters, but the plot tries so hard for twists that it becomes almost cartoonish around the end and I didn’t even care. I cried the whole time and slapped that 5 star rating on there.

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  4. I started reviewing on Amazon so have always stuck with their ratings, which are beautifully simple – I hate it, I don’t like it, It’s OK, I like it, I love it. So all five stars means to me is I loved it – it’s not a quality assessment. It does mean that quite often some silly piece of fluff that I raced through and promptly forgot gets a higher rating than some brilliantly crafted, deeply meaningful (but slightly dull) great classic! But I’m OK with that… 😉

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  5. There are a few times that I definitely rate some books with their entertainment factor in mind. If I really truly was hooked on a book, but recognized that some of the characters, or prose, was lacking I might take a star off but the entertainment value of a book for me often factors pretty heavily into my final review scores.

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  6. Very interesting topic! When I rate books, I rate them by my personal enjoyment of the book, but in my review I will point out any problems in my review. I will also add if I think my enjoying the book is purely base off superficial reasons…

    I think dystopian books are a classic example of what you are talking about – they are so very readable, but many are cliché and predictable. So why do we keep reading them?

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  7. This is a great topic! All I can say is if I love a book, it’s getting 5 stars regardless. ❤ I’ve loved so many books including the Twilight series and even Fifty Shades. They’ve been bashed by so many people, but I say to each his own! 😉

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  8. This is really a thought provoking question, Chelsea. I don’t seem to read and love very many books that fall into this category, but I did devour the entire Twilight series years ago. Luckily, I wasn’t yet blogging so didn’t need to face this issue. I couldn’t have given them five stars, but could have talked them up for the right readers. I think these sort of books are like binging on an entire carton of Ben & Jerry’s. You know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t stop!

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  9. Great topic! I instantly give 5 stars to writing is gripping, unputdownable, insightful or there’s some message, characters good or too bad but complex and creative, predictability doesn’t bother me much but if unpredictable 1 point plus, and most important SHOULD BE INTERESTING. When it comes to cutting stars all this points I take into consideration. If plot is not at all interesting or boring, whiny or weak characters or I don’t feel anything while reading… That’s bad book for me.

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  10. Great topic, Chelsea. I’ve been meaning to revise/clarify my own review policy. I don’t think I’ve changed it in the two years I’ve been blogging. I’m not sure that I can think of any bad book that I’ve really loved. But there are plenty of books that I’ve enjoyed that have some bad elements. In the end, I rate the book based on my overall experience which is admittedly very subjective. Sometimes the rating gets adjusted because that element – writing in cliches, unsophisticated dialog, whatever, – impacted my experience in reading it. But sometimes the book is so good that I notice it but it doesn’t distract me too much and and it doesn’t affect how I feel about the book in the end.

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      1. Good point! It can be tough with genres that aren’t my usuals. I try to mention that in the review itself but still try to rate on my experience but that’s sometimes difficult. I don’t want to be unfairly negative.

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  11. Great question! Guilty pleasure reads are the hardest to rate. I try to account for who the book is marketed towards. I may rate it high for entertainment but give full disclosure of its lack of depth. I think the comments are just as important if not more than the star ratings.

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  12. This is a great discussion idea Chelsea! When I rate a book I typically give 5 stars to ones that I truly didn’t want to put down and that made me feel something, good or bad. There could very well be plot issues and I’d still give it 5 stars if I just truly loved it. The only books with poor writing that come to mind that I gave 5 stars to are the Fifty Shades ones because I’ll admit those were unputdownable for me. For me, poor writing typically stands out too much for a book to be unputdownable for me so they usually don’t warrant 5 stars in the end.

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  13. When it comes to ratings, I go with my gut feeling about it. A lot of it has to do with how much (or little) I enjoyed reading it. I don’t give any thought to whether a novel is intellectually stimulating or not when I’m reading it, but I suppose it is something I enjoy since I read a lot of historical fiction–those historical details are what I love most about them, and it often makes me want to learn more about an event mentioned in the book.

    Great discussion post, Chelsea!

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  14. I don’t think I’ll come across anything like this as if I’ve enjoyed it then i won’t class it as a bad book. we have all different tastes so if a book is bad in the sense it’s not written well or rubbish plot then I don’t like them.

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  15. i haven’t come across such books yet, so i guess i count myself lucky. 😂
    I don’t think i would bother with a review for those but maybe put them on a list with small comments or something

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  16. For me: I am a sucker for ya contemporary. They aren’t the most intellectual books, but when I am rating them I do so in the mindset for those who also read and appreciate ya contemporaries. For example, even though it’s almost always the same old story, if I FEEL for the characters it greatly increases my stars.

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  17. No particular book/s comes to mind right now, but as for the discussion question itself, in my Goodreads profile, I stated that I don’t believe that there’s a bad book, only bad reviews, which is unavoidable, since each of us has different taste. I, for one, have loved so many books that others don’t like or has so many bad reviews. But I review books according to my taste. Sometimes there are books that I enjoyed but has too many technical flaws. When it comes to this, I ask myself: WHY AM I READING? Because I want to be happy and escape reality :), Technicality be damned. 🙂 SO any books that made me happy (happy happy, or even sad happy) get high ratings. 🙂 And I just always state in my review why I loved it and that I understand why others don’t.

    P.S. Im really new to reviewing. 🙂
    This is a good discussion btw.

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  18. The first thing that comes to mind, for me, is the 50 Shades of Grey series. I know that they are problematic af and not written well (as they originally started as a Twilight fan fiction) but I can’t help but devour every single of the books that comes out. That series is one of guilty pleasures. I ended up rating them all 5 stars, just for the sheer enjoyment factor.

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      1. I know they are beyond problematic in terms of how BDSM is repped but I can’t help but enjoy them immensly. Reading those books actually led me to Anne Rice and her Beauty series which makes me want to read her Vampire Chronicles (which would make my bf most happy. lol!)

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