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:
This book is sharply different from any I would normally read, but I picked it up because a writing teacher claimed that it was her favorite, and that the novel I was working on reminded her of it—she wouldn't tell me how or why, only that I needed to read it for myself. So now I have, and I do see the resemblance, though I'll not go into it overmuch here.
Revolutionary Road is a very honest look at married life in the suburbs in 1950s America—certainly the best of that type I've ever read, though that would say a lot more if I'd ever read another book on the topic. The setting was, unsurprisingly, similar to that of Lolita, and the characterizations reminded me of those in Catcher in the Rye—except, where Holden Caulfield is a whiny, narcissistic phony of a slacker student, Frank Wheeler is a self-conscious, narcissistic phony of a slacker office worker. Not to mention the fifteen-year age difference. But that is neither here nor there.