Birth of the Galaxy Star Book Rating System

Image Credit:; ESA

(Header Image Credit:; ESA)

I’ve been toying with this idea for too long. Now it’s time to bring it into fruition: The Galaxy Star Book Rating System!

The problem with the stars

The traditional star rating system has always seemed limited to me.

It’s designed to provide a simple visual indication on our thoughts about a book. Whether we “like it” or not is a qualitative measure, but in effect the star rating is a mark out of 5. This makes it quantitative and asks for objectivity where this is none.

Hot star

chilli rating
Image credit:

Chilli ratings on the side of Indian food in restaurants is clear – 3 chillies means very spicy. 1 chilli means it’s less spicy; it doesn’t mean that that it tastes bad.

Does a 1 star book review mean that the book is bad (as we tend to interpret it) or that it’s got an element of chilli quality associated with it?

Multiple star systems

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein.

Further, how can a single star-scale cover all of the facets of a novel such as time travel content, writing quality, story line, humour, etc.? Who’s to decide these “categorical variables”, and how can they be meaningfully summed or averaged into a mark out of 5?

For example, if a book scores 1/5 for humour and 5/5 for writing style, an average of 3/5 doesn’t make any sense; this suggests mediocrity where there is excellence – and the book wasn’t necessarily written to be funny.

The Galaxy Star Rating System!

So I’m going to cast the star rating system to the fiery pits of hell (you may wish to call it a black hole! 😉 ) and propose a group of inter-related star ratings where there’s a separate rating assigned for different criteria. We can run around in ever decreasing circles discussing which criteria to include, hence the so-called galaxy rating system!

Off the top of my head, I’ll be including criteria such as:

  • Time travel methodology
  • Science Content
  • Writing Style
  • Writing Quality
  • Plot line
  • Humour
  • Extras

It’s not an exhaustive list, but these are generally the features I like reading and what I tend to base an “I like it!” star rating on.

I’m planning on making this a content-based approach; an additive system where 1/5 means I’ve awarded a star, rather than deducted any. But it also gives me space to add qualitative description to this quantitative judgement.

Back to Basics

For the die-hards I’ll keep in the traditional single star scale rating too; I’ll base it on the highly subjective question I’ll ask myself:

“How likely is it that I’ll recommend this book if someone asks me for a book in this subject?” – Paul Wandason

This means that although I don’t like war books, for example, I can rate it 5 stars if it’s written well.

Watch this space!

Well…let’s see how this turns out!

Galaxy star book rating system
Galaxy star book rating system. Image Credit:; ESA.

I hope this helps to shine some light on the objectivity in my articles on time travel books, whilst also giving me the space and freedom to continue to share my subjective thoughts!


Edit: Since writing this article I’ve been looking at a blogging plugin to help me implement this. Turns out it’s called a “multi set rating” so in other words, it already exists. But what’s in a name?! 🙂

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  1. I see the 5-star system (like on Amazon) as just a graduated Facebook “Like”.
    If the population of contributors is large, it accurately rates the popularity of a book in the general population but it does not provide any other details. Most especially, it doesn’t reflect popularity in a select group, like “those into time travel stories” or “people who prefer great prose.”
    Like the Amazon system, if the sample population is small (as it is for the works of most independently-published authors) then the rating is meaningless and open to abuse.
    I will be interested to see this system at work on your blog posts … another reason to look forward to your next review!

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