What makes a 9.0 book? This is an A- in comparison to an A+, and so we’re still dealing with an exemplary book here. It might not be perfect, but it very nearly is. It’s still a keeper. It has a place of prestige among its 10.0 counterparts, and it’s the sort of book that you regularly read every few years. You might not obsess over the characters that live inside its pages, but you gladly revisit them on those idle nights when you’re searching for something to read among your shelves of books, and you happily exclaim, “Oh, I loved that book! I haven’t read it in ages!” It’s an amazing book that transports you. It makes you laugh and cry and cheer your protagonists onward. The plot is nearly flawless. The characters are almost real. The writing is luminous, and you sigh wistfully after reading the last page.
And so what makes up all of those tiny decimal points that separate a solid 9.0 from being a 10.0? It’s subjective, of course, and differs from reader to reader. A book of this high quality isn’t lacking in anything too substantial. Maybe the author uses a turn of phrase too often? Perhaps the entire book is phenomenal save for a slow part in the middle? Or maybe 99 % of the book is a masterpiece, but the last chapter ends on a bit of a dud? Maybe it’s just this feeling of incompletion, like maybe an epilogue should’ve been added, or there was a note of dissatisfaction at the end? Maybe the ending itself felt rushed or was consumed by clichés?
Again, a 9.0 is a near-perfect book, and each little decimal point separating it from a 10.0 is subjective, but I think, for the sake of the upcoming RITA judging, a demotion in decimal points needs to reflect a small disappointment in the story, or a loose end that the writer didn’t tie up, or a minor continuity issue. Or perhaps a deviation in the plot that didn’t really make sense.
And so which books do I own that merit a solid 9.0 rating, in my opinion?
Kristan Higgins’ Fools Rush In and Just One of the Guys. I loved, loved, loved these early books of Kristan Higgins’. I adored the first-person narration she used. I giggled at her frequent use of exclamations, and I adored the awkward date stories. Her heroes and heroines were three-dimensional and sympathetic. My only complaint? I didn’t feel like I got enough of their story. I love me some good ol’ angst in a romance, but if it wraps up too quickly, I feel cheated. Kristan’s heroes and heroines always manage to get together, and that’s fantastic, but not until the end of the books. I always wanted more of their time together. And so if the only complaint about a book is that the reader wants more, well, I guess that’s nothing to feel too bad about!
Stay tuned for next week’s exploration into 8.0, or “good” territory. That’s a solid B rating, folks!