In all of my years book blogging one of the hardest things I have tried to do was implement a satisfactory rating system. When I started blogging at The Little Reading Nook I used the traditional five star rating system. I decided to experiment and switched to a letter grading system, based of the USA educational system and how students are graded. Both systems had their advantages and disadvantage. I ultimately switched back to the five star system because it was used (and still is used) by most book reviewer and review sites. But I have never been completely happy with it.
Off to Google I went to see how if others had come up with a rating system that suited my review style and desires better.
I found three rating systems that I thought would work for my style of reviewing, ESCAPE, ASPECT, CAWPILE. Like most systems, none of the systems are perfect. But they are less arbitrary than the traditional star rating system are all fairly customizable. There is the added bonus that since they are category based they are helpful to use as a guide when sitting down to write reviews.
In all of my year’s book blogging, one of the hardest things I have tried to do was to implement a satisfactory rating system. When I started blogging at The Little Reading Nook, I used the traditional five star rating system. I experimented and switched to a letter grading system, based on the US grading system. Both systems had their advantages and disadvantage. I switched back to the five star system because it is widely used amongst book bloggers, reviewers, and websites.. But I have never been happy with the traditional star rating system.
Off to Google, I went to see how if others had come up with a rating system that suited my review style and desires better.
I found three rating systems I thought would work for my style of reviewing, ESCAPE, ASPECTS, CAWPILE. Like most systems, none of the systems are perfect. But they are less arbitrary than the traditional star rating system are all fairly customizable. There is the bonus that since they are category based, they are helpful to use as a guide when sitting down to write reviews.
I decided to try out the CAWPILE rating system because (1) it has more categories to rate, (2) fairly well know amongst booktubers, and (3) because of the number of categories it’s easier to customize.
How Am I Using CAWPILE?
I’ve changed the CAWPILE, just a little from the original to fit my bookish taste better. I have combined a few categories that I think are intertwined, made some optional and changeable, and added a category to keep a seven category system.
So, for me:
Characters – Where the characters developed? Did they have growth either positively or negatively? Where the secondary characters unique and/or necessary? Where characters used for diversity cookies or tokenism?
When a story has more than one main character, this category will be a combination of two scores.
Atmosphere – How was the world building? Was it well thought out and presented? Was it confusing? Did it function as a character in the story? Was the atmosphere used to set a mood?
Atmosphere is tricky because not all stories require the same amount of world building or mood setting. If a book is set in New York, simply stating that is sometimes enough. My imagination will fill in the rest. Setting the mood is essential in thrillers, horror, or gothic stories, but not so much in contemporaries. Since atmosphere is not required, atmosphere is scored on a book by book basis.
Writing – What did I think about the writing? Was it well written? Was the writing bad? Standard? How was the author at descriptions? Did they overuse/underuse certain writing techniques
Storytelling is one of those elements that are sometimes invisible. In my experience, storytelling and writing go hand and hand for most writers. A good writer is also a good storyteller. But for some authors, it is obvious they can write, but they can’t tell a story. Or they can tell a story, but their writing is not that great. In these cases, the score for storytelling and writing can be combined and averaged out for the final score.
Plot – Did the story have a plot? If it was a character driven story, now was the plot presented? Did the plot make sense? How did the main character(s) fit into the plot? Was the resolution satisfying?
Intrigue/Enjoyment – Was I intrigued by the plot? Did I care where the story/characters were headed? Was I anticipating finding out the plot twist if there was a plot twist? Did I feel compelled to read?
The original CAWPILE rating system, intrigue and enjoyment are separate. But I found (for me) they go hand in hand. I can’t enjoy a story I’m not intrigued by and vice versa.
Logic – Do various story elements make sense? Is the plot progression logical? Are the character decisions logical and make sense based on the character’s personality? Are the conflicts both the internal and external conflicts logical? How about the resolution? Is it too convenient, is it rushed, is the reader left hanging?
Relationship – How do the characters interact? Do the dynamics work? If a romance does the romance work? Does the couple feel right?
How Are Books Scored?
All categories are rated on a scale 1 to 10. Because I’m a product of the USA public school system, the way I see numbers and ratings are on based grades. For normal people a 5 would be a middle of the road score, an average score but not for me:
|1 – 5||very bad||F|
The rest of the rating follows the regular CAW PILE rating guidelines. Which includes adding up all the scores and averaging them to find out their star rating.
|Average Score||Star Rating|
|1.1 – 2.2||1|
|2.3 – 4.5||2|
|4.6 – 6.9||3|
|7.0 – 8.9||4|
|9.0 – 10||5|
Half Star Ratings?
Half stars are discretionary If gets a 4 according to CAWPILE but I feel like it is more of a 4.5 stars. I’ll give a half-star rating. This also can happen in reverse If a book gets a 4 stars and I think it’s a 3.5 stars I will dock a half star.
There you have it, Darling Reader. My review/rating system.