Why I Find It More Difficult to Rate Romance Novels

If you read my blog posts regularly you might know that while I do focus mainly on fantasy, I tend to break up long periods of fantasy reading with NA/Adult romance reads. If I’ve read too many heavy fantasy books in a row, I need a change of pace. Romance books tend to give that too me. They are easier, and much faster, reads -in my opinion. But while I almost always feel confident in my rating of fantasy books, I often doubt my ratings of a romance book. Why is that? 

I just want to make clear that this is not a romance-bashing post. I’m not at all saying they are an inferior genre. Please bear that in mind! I do love to read romance books 🙂 

ROMANCE BOOKS DESERVE AN HONEST RATING BECAUSE…

…they are also books. Just like any other. This really shouldn’t even be mentioned. But I feel like a lot of people tend to look down on the romance genre. That’s ridiculous. Why would a romance book by any less worthy of a rating than a general fiction or fantasy one? There is no doubt in my mind that they deserve an honest rating. Yet I find it much more difficult to decide on what that rating should be, than with other genres. 

IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO RATE THEM BECAUSE…

  • I don’t know which aspects to base my rating on. With fantasy books, I rate on the world, the plot and the characters – but what do I rate on with romance books? Should I rate on the chemistry? How the people treat each other? The side characters as well? I have no idea. The plot usually revolves mostly around the romance, so you can’t say much about that without giving anything away. 
  • I find it much harder to give them a 5 stars rating. What is the perfect romance? Does it exist? I know this is kind of a hypocritical point, because there is also no such thing as the perfect fantasy. 
  • Because romance is something a lot of us can relate to, I tend to judge it more harshly. It’s easier to rate a fantasy, because the world and everything is made up and you can’t relate to living in it. But a romance I can relate to! So it needs to be more realistic and that definitely makes it harder to create/read the “perfect” romance. 
  • What if I missed something really problematic, and I recommend the book? With romances, I can sometimes get caught up in the chemistry and the quick read. And at times, that leads to me overlooking something really problematic that happened in the book. What if I recommend a really problematic romance to others? 
  • Often there is a bad start to the characters meeting, and so the main male character can come off a bit rude. I love the banter, but I don’t think being rude/acting like an asshole is okay. There is no reason to ever act like a dick. Ever. 
  • Maybe I’m even a little bit afraid that people will judge me. There, I said it. People tend to be really judgey when it comes to romance. And while I think that’s completely unfounded, I don’t want to be judged at the same time. 

So maybe I should just start looking for a completely separate way to review the romance books I read! You know I use world-plot-characters for my fantasy ones. Why not use 3 other aspects for my romance reads? I’ll definitely stick with characters. Maybe add chemistry? What else could I add?

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18 thoughts on “Why I Find It More Difficult to Rate Romance Novels

  1. This is a really great post! I have such trouble with rating in general, so I feel you. I think it IS hard to use the same rating scale for multiple genres. I find that I also tend to rate romance lower, because it usually doesn’t have the emotional pull or complex world building or whatever that another genre may have. BUT I also think I almost never rate them as LOW, either, because there is less to mess up? Like, you can’t really have shoddy worldbuilding in a contemporary romance, and you can’t have magic that doesn’t make sense, etc. SO I think in the end, it probably all evens out? I DO have a few romance books on my favorites shelf, and it’s pretty proportionate to the amount of romance-y books I read in general compared to other genres, so I will just pretend it’s working 😉

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  2. I admit that i don’t like rating at all! I find it really difficult to pin down a book to a certain number – whatever the content. I don’t really read a lot of romance but I have in the past – I guess you just have to go off how realistic the romance feels for you and how it made you feel at the end of the day.
    Lynn 😀

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  3. I definitely don’t give any of the books I rate that deep of thought! I think of myself as an emotional rater. For me, pretty much the only deciding factor in what I rate a book is how much I enjoyed it and, sometimes, how much I wanted to keep reading it/made time to read it. I’ve always thought I should weigh things out – kind of like you do with your fantasy reviews – but the fact is, that’s not the kind of reader I am. I will admit, with the way I rate books, that has resulted a few times in my emotions settling a bit and ultimately me disagreeing with my own rating!

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  4. I totally hear where you are coming from with romance novels. Sometimes I want a quick, light read that will make me smile, but one that isn’t necessarily complicated and if I were to compare it to a book from another genre, it probably would receive a lower rating. As it were when I rate a contemporary novel, I don’t refer to the last book I read (assuming it was a different genre), but I compare it in my mind to the other contemporary novels I’ve read. I think I have different expectations depending on the genre. And if I’m honest, a lot of my opinion on contemporary romance novels relies on how it makes me feel. Great post, Jolien!

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  5. I rate books the same way as Lorraine, a 3 star book to me is a good book. I save the 5 stars for the truly extraordinary. So a 3-star from me is not a bad rating! I rarely read romance, but I do have a hard time using the same 5-star rating system for the wide variety of genres that I do read. I keep in mind the genre when choosing my rating.

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  6. I don’t like rating books generally. I do it on my Goodreads account but I’m not sure how reflective a star rating is of my enjoyment of a book. I give a lot of books three star ratings, which some people see as a low rating, whereas to me it’s a good, solid read. Plus, I enjoy some three star reads more than others. I feel you on the difficulty 😀

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  7. Hmm interesting problem you have here I can see where you are coming from. I don’t think I really have a difference in how I rate books but maybe I just haven’t thought enough about it before. I usually just rate on my enjoyment. Maybe you can rate on Chemistry, Dialogue and Believability? I’m not to sure really. Sorry I’m a useless help!

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  8. Great post. I use the same style for rating all books that I read. I check characters as you have mentioned. I also check the narrative style, the perspectives given, use of dialogue etc. The general feeling of the story e.g how the pacing is, is it too slow and unnecessary long? Is it realistic or unrealistic? How did the story make feel?Did I connect with it or…. I agree with you though, romance genre is just like any other genre and should be treated just as seriously!

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