As I'm posting reviews here, it occurs to me that I ought to give a quick run-down of my ratings system -- how I decide the number of stars to give each book. 

I want to make it clear right now:
These ratings are only my opinion.
(I'd think this would be obvious, but recent debates about authors reviewing other authors have made me reconsider.)
These ratings (and, more accurately, the long-winded review that precedes them) are a reflection on my reading of the book -- what I do or don't find effective, whether something resonated particularly strongly with me, etc. If you disagree, that's cool! Leave me a comment explaining your perspective on it, and I'd be happy to have a dialogue with you. But the star system itself is mostly for use as a filing system. If it causes undue trouble, I'll just stop using them. Simple as that.

The ratings are far from an exact science, and ultimately I tend to go with my gut, but here's a couple lines on the reasoning behind each one:

Sorry, Brandon Sanderson -- I've loved everything else of yours that I've read, but this one couldn't even inspire me to finish it.

And that's despite the fact that it's a middle-grade* novel that would only take a couple hours of dedicated reading to get through.

On paper (this is secretly a pun, because it has a drawing-based magic system), this book should have been awesome. An academy setting, fascinating alternate-history worldbuilding, and a Brandon Sanderson Magic System (TM)? What's not to love?