Review Rating System

A 5 star rating review system, which is what I use on Tales from Absurdia, can be ambiguous. People interpret these ratings differently. So, hopefully, this clears up any questions on my review rating system.

Some reviewers choose to use ⭐⭐⭐ as a middle ground; an ‘okay’ rating. Whilst I can understand this, I do think that it results in noncommittal feedback. It’s a bit too ‘safe’ for my liking. The reviewer might default to a 3 star rating if they don’t have too much to say, or if they’re unable (or unwilling) to express their opinion fully.

I don’t think this benefits the author, reviewer, or potential reader.

I also think that 3 stars is actually a very positive endorsement – if a book is ‘average’ or ‘okay’, I’m often left scratching my head as to why other reviewers would give it the merit of ⭐⭐⭐.

On this point, I don’t need both ⭐ and ⭐⭐ to demonstrate that I didn’t like a book. If it’s not worth my readers’ time, or it really didn’t click with me, I will simply explain why and award it a rating accordingly.

I believe that the rating system, set out below, is a far more constructive way to appraise books. Please consult this for any further clarity.


An Excellent rating is the highest accolade on Tales from Absurdia.

I’ll usually award this to a book that is written impeccably, makes me reconsider my viewpoint, or leaves a very positive lasting impression. 

As written on my About page, I put great value in writing that demonstrates passion, emotion, reflection, and thoughtfulness. A ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating will address at least one of these to a very high standard. 

Or, you know, perhaps I just really loved the book…

Recipients of this rating include The Sound Mirror and The Lord of the Rings.

N.B. Please note that Excellent does not mean ‘perfect’.

Very Good

A Very Good book is well written, explores interesting ideas in great depth, and – crucially – it must be memorable.

I award ⭐⭐⭐⭐ if a text really impresses me. It has to stand out.

It will contain the qualities that a Good rating doesn’t quite achieve, but falls short of an Excellent rating. 

Atomic Number Sixty and The Playmaker Project are fine examples of this. Very good books that do fun things with form and plot respectively.



Good rating is a positive endorsement.

A ⭐⭐⭐ book does some things very well, and others less so. Maybe there are some really intriguing ideas, but they aren’t explored fully. A Good book has potential and is mostly an enjoyable affair, but it just lacks the qualities required above in order for it to reach ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

I may recommend this book, but only to the right audience.

It’s a pretty good read, but not quite enough to leave a lasting impression.


Disappointing means that I had a level of expectation which was not met.

Books that receive this rating might still have a few flashes of brilliance and some redeeming features. However, they are unfortunately undercut by poor writing, derivative ideas, or clumsy execution.

A ⭐⭐ is not entirely without merit, but it ultimately fails to capture me, so I would not recommend it.   


Avoid is fairly self-explanatory – I really did not like this book, and I do not recommend that you pick it up yourself.

Criteria might include: very poor writing, dull characters, uninteresting plot or themes, or simply wasting the readers’ time (amongst other things).

Fortunately, I don’t give out too many of these out, but memorable recipients of the ⭐ club include The Alchemist and Robinson Crusoe.