When it comes to book reviews, much like any other community, there are a certain set of rules in place. Some are outlined pretty clearly in writing, such as do not pirate or share books given to you by the author. Others are more understood, unspoken rules acknowledged throughout the community, such as if an author gives you ARC or a complimentary book, it is in good taste to leave a review.
One of these unspoken rules, is that if you do not finish (DNF) a novel, it is “unfair” to leave a rating. Reviews are fine, as long as they specify somewhere that the book was DNFed, but for some reason, ratings are taboo. Now disagree with me if you will, but I think that is a ridiculous rule. It does not make sense not to rate a book that was so awful, triggering, or just plain bad that you couldn’t finish it.
I see 5-star ratings with glowing reviews for books that readers could not get enough. There 1-star reviews for novels that were such garbage, the reviewer wished there was an option for no or negative star ratings. I agree that having a negative star rating system would be a terrible idea. The internet can bring out the worst in people, and I personally do not feel like seeing trolls tear someone down.
I digress, however. I have a massive to be read list (TBR). I do not have time to waste on books that do not catch my interest. If I cannot get into a book within the first couple chapters, then I will set it down. If I decide to try again later, cool. If not, that is fine too. These books, I forgo ratings on. I am a moody reader. Whether I am interested in a novel can depend on what mood I am in. Sometimes, I am just not in the mood for historical romance, while other times, that is the only genre I want to read. I cannot fault the author just because I am not in the mood to read what they wrote.
That being said, that is a completely different situation than me DNFing a novel because it was so bad I could not finish it. Kate Douglas’ Wolf Tales series for example. I read the first novel because I found it at a thrift store, and, after continuously seeing it in bookstores, was curious. I DNFed the 1st book at page 76 because it was so awful, I could not force myself to read another word. In a matter of 76 pages, the writer managed to shove in every taboo she could think of (that was not illegal), including the lead male’s fantasy of being r***d by a fellow male shifter while said fellow male shifter was in his wolf form.
I do not begrudge people their fetishes. If you have a rape fantasy, that is not my business. But I drew the line at bestiality, and I did not want to read about it. I think my biggest problem is that there was no warning anywhere that stated the nature of the novel. Sure there is a “this novel is hot!” disclaimer on the back. I figured I was getting an erotic werewolf novel. What I got was something completely different.
Because of these reasons, I put down the book and never finished it as a whole. In cases like this, you best believe I left a rating. Again, disagree with me if you will, but I felt that the fact that I could not finish this novel was so telling that it warranted both a review and a rating.
Why do we put these constraints on ourselves? I am not sure who starts ideas such as not rating DNFed books, but I feel that we as a community feel pressured to conform to such ideas. I do not agree with such limitations on myself. If I have such negative feelings towards a novel so much so that I could not finish it, I am going to give it a rating.