“The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.”First line in Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Hi, everyone. In today’s post, I’m taking a closer look at the site Storygraph, which is a place where you can track your reading and leave reviews for the books you’ve read, much like the popular Goodreads. And don’t worry if you’re not on Storygraph, I’ll explain how it all works because they have a very special way for you to leave a review on their site. Basically, you’re asked to answer some questions about the book that can help other readers figure out what kind of book it is. The list of questions is:
- What is the mood of the book? (sad, lighthearted, hopeful ect.) (you can choose multiple answers)
- How would you rate the pace of the book? (slow, medium, fast)
- Is the book mainly plot-driven or character-driven?
- Is there strong character development?
- Did you find the characters loveable?
- Would you say the cast of characters is diverse?
- Are the flaws of the main character(s) a main focus of the book?
With each book, you’re able to see the percentages of what people have answered to the different questions, so even if not everyone agrees, you can see what the majority thinks. That is what I’m going to be reacting to and see if I agree with Storygraph reviewers. I have picked seven books at random, the only criteria being that they needed to have a substantial amount of reviews and I needed to remember the books. And I think that was everything explained, so let’s get started.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Starting with moods, I’m relieved to see that 91% felt that this book was emotional and 87% thought it was sad. It probably should be 100% but I’ll accept it. I’m a bit more confused by the 12% who thought this was lighthearted. It does have its moments of dark humor and hopefulness, but it’s about a couple of terminally ill kids, so I think “lighthearted” is stretching it.
Lastly, I also want to appreciate that no one found this mysterious. We all picked up this book knowing exactly what was going to happen.
I would definitely call this book character-driven, although you could argue that it becomes plot-driven when their illnesses take over but I don’t think that’s the main focus of the book. It is more about them choosing to live their life and deciding for themselves what that means. So I guess I can understand the 28% who said it’s a mix, but the 7% on all plot? They are way off.
The answers to ‘diverse cast of characters‘ are interesting to me. What diverse is, is of course quite subjective. I personally think terminally ill teenagers count as diverse in this case. They aren’t the type of characters you typically read about, and they’re hopefully also very different from the typical reader of this book. So here I’m with the 18% that said yes.
I love how people clearly didn’t know how to answer the last question about flaws. Is an illness a flaw? I don’t know, and I actually don’t remember enough about the book to say if it focuses on their personality flaws. So I’m probably on “it’s complicated”.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Excuse me, but 2% found this book lighthearted?? And 20% didn’t think it was sad? Did we read the same book?
I also have questions about why ‘adventurous’ is so high. There might be a bit of that in the book but ‘adventurous’ is very far down the list of words I’d use to describe The Book Thief.
I assume the 10% funny is about Death because he is very fond of that macabre humor. Not much else about the book is funny, though.
I’m so confused about the pace. I remember this as one of the slowest books I’ve ever read, but apparently, I’m in the minority. Medium? Really? I would also like the 8% who said ‘fast’ to tell me what a slow book is if they thought this was fast. That’s just wrong.
The plot- vs. character-driven question is hard because it is a book very much about the characters. However, they are also constantly affected by circumstances out of their control, so I think ‘a mix’ is the most correct answer, although I might be leaning more towards plot-driven.
We have that complicated question about diverse characters again, and again, I would say ‘yes’. Not only because I remember at least one Jewish character in it, but also because the characters aren’t Americans or Brits or other nationalities we often see in popular literature. They are Germans, and the book is very much about the everyday lives of Germans during Hitler’s reign. That makes it diverse in my mind.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I’d probably call Mockingjay more emotional than adventurous but I agree that they should be the top 2 moods. It is definitely the least adventurous book in the trilogy, but the second half gets quite action-filled. Other than that, I think this is quite fitting. I probably wouldn’t have picked ‘funny’ myself, but I believe Haymitch has a few one-liners so I’ll allow the 1%.
I agree with the medium pace, but I think it leans more towards slow than fast because it is significantly slower than the two previous books. Collins’ writing still makes sure there is a certain pace, but I think saying it’s fast-paced is incorrect.
‘Loveable characters‘ is interesting here because for me it’s a definite ‘yes’, but still, 22% felt it was complicated. Is it just Katniss they don’t love? Because we do know that introverted characters rarely get the ‘loveable’ stamp, so maybe that’s the only reason.
Finally, that average rating of 3.88 is too low! It deserves to be above 4 at least.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Am I the one who just doesn’t understand the word ‘adventurous’ because this is already the second time it has come up when I don’t think it’s fitting? To me, that means going on an actual adventure, full of action and excitement. And yes, this book does feature people traveling around but there’s just a very casual air to it as far as I remember. It’s not an adventure. I agree with the rest of the moods, though, especially reflective and hopeful which I think should have a higher percentage.
I think people should be more confident in saying this is a mix in terms of plot- and character-driven. I think it’s the same case as with The Book Thief where we have a heavily character-focused book that isn’t necessarily character-driven all the time and I think people mistake the two sometimes.
People generally seem to be very divided on this book, and it’s probably because it takes place in two very different time periods with some very different characters. So I understand why ‘it’s complicated’ is such a popular answer. Loveable characters? Sure, but there are also quite a few that aren’t. However, I definitely think it’s a book where the flaws of the characters are the main focus, so that percentage should be higher than 50%.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What? People thought this was dark? Such a shocker!
I was surprised to see ‘funny’ so high up but it’s actually true if they mean the “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry”-kind of funny. However, I just need to know if I’m the only one who’s a bit worried about the 1% who found this informative? (it’s about a serial killer if anyone was unaware). And don’t think I didn’t see that ‘adventurous’ lurking there again. Please tell me what’s adventurous about this book!
Loveable characters and 11% said it’s complicated… It’s really not. It’s the least complicated question you could ever answer.
The question about strong character development is interesting, though. My memory tells me there is development, just not in a positive direction, but does it need to be? I don’t necessarily think so, so I’m probably on ‘it’s complicated’ but leaning towards ‘yes’.
I’m quite surprised by the low rating, though, but then again, not really. I’m sure there are readers who think they condone serial killers if they give this a high rating, and I do acknowledge that you need to have a strong stomach for this. It’s just so well-written that 3.51 hurts me a little.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Oh, look, this is adventurous too! Is every book adventurous or have I just managed to read all the ones that are? I guess I can accept it here because the book does feature travel, but it isn’t my go-to word when describing this book.
About the other moods, I want ‘reflective’ to be higher while ‘dark’ and ‘funny’ should just pack up and leave. That it’s sad, doesn’t mean it’s dark. I actually think it’s quite hopeful, but not so much that we should be describing it as ‘funny’.
Isn’t this a very slow-paced book? I remember Miller really taking her time to develop the characters and we spend a lot of time with their emotions. I guess I can accept that it’s medium-paced but it is most definitely not fast.
And now I’m mad. Loveable characters and only 79% said ‘yes’. That is not complicated! Patroclus and Achilles are some of the most loveable characters ever so it’s completely outrageous to answer ‘no’ to that question, even if you didn’t like the book.
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
I’m just going to pretend that I don’t see the top mood, and say yes, this is dark and tense. And quite mysterious too, but maybe not so much here in the series’ first book, so it makes sense that not everyone picked that.
I agree with the other moods too, except maybe ‘hopeful’. I imagine those reviewers are of the forever-the-optimist kind so they just naturally assume that things must get better after what they just read. I hope they’re okay.
I’m sorry, this is a slow-paced book. There’s no need to call it medium. With all the characters Martin needs to introduce, it is very slow-going. He takes his time with everything.
And yes to strong character development! It might not be a development that readers like because almost everyone is a bad person on some level, but it’s still strong. And that is also reflected in the loveable characters question where ‘it’s complicated’ actually is the most popular answer. I feel that’s kind of iconic.
‘Adventurous’ is my new anti-buzzword. But do I agree with Storygraph reviewers in general? A tentative yes, but definitely not always. I disagreed with the pace a lot and I feel that people have a hard time judging whether a book is character-driven or plot-driven. Loving the characters doesn’t mean it’s character-driven necessarily. And some of the moods with low percentages were off too, but I recognize that they don’t matter as much. It’s all very subjective, of course, but it still matters on Storygraph because of how much these reviews are used in other aspects of the site. For example, I can look at some statistics about what I’ve read which will tell me the pace and the moods of the books. According to those, I mostly read fast-paced and adventurous books, and that couldn’t be more incorrect. I’m more into the slow and sad ones, which proves that the stats feature on Storygraph is pretty useless, at least to me. It looks very cool, but I think this has taught me not the trust it completely.
I’d love to know if you agree with these reviews if you’ve read the books, and most importantly, I need you to tell me if you find them adventurous. If you use Storygraph, what do you think of the stats they provide and this way of reviewing books? Hope you enjoyed this post and happy reading!