A 5.0 book is, according to the RITA guidelines, a marginal book. It’s borderline unpublishable. Remember those one or two potentially interesting scenes we had to skim vast portions of our 6.0 book in order to find? Those fleeting sparks of potential don’t even exist in a 5.0 book.
Marginally-rated books are difficult to read, either because the plot is confusing, or the main characters are unsympathetic, or the author’s writing itself is substandard. Perhaps the author doesn’t even have a distinct voice or writing style, and you start feeling as if their book is no more interesting than reading a wearisome grocery list.
A 5.0 book comes across as a slapdash affair that suffers from a lack of editing and occasionally, even copy-editing. A few misspelled words crop up in a 5.0 book. The dialogue is painfully boring, or just plain silly. The main characters don’t feel like real people. Or maybe they do come across as real people, but they’re off-putting because they’re immature, obnoxious, and generally unlikeable. A 5.0 book has very little to recommend it. You might read a few paragraphs that vaguely stirs your interest, but such paragraphs are the exception, not the rule.
I haven’t come across too many 5.0 books, simply because something so substandard rarely sees the publishing light of day. In fact, I can’t remember if I’ve even come across a 5.0 book. If I have, I can guarantee I never finished reading the thing, and it probably quickly joined its 6.0 sibling in the recycling bin.
Next week, we’ll explore the flaws and virtues of a 4.0-4.9 book. Fun times!