The Hotlist's Scoring System

Many people have complained about the scoring system over the years, yet the majority of people seems to feel that it's the only way to really differentiate which works I enjoyed the most out of all the books I've read. Having said that, no scoring system is perfect, and the same goes for mine. But I think (and I may be wrong) that overall it works reasonably well.

Unless you're new around here, or unless you don't pay attention, you should know that since the David Bilsborough review I vowed to never again read a book which I felt would get less than 7/10. The amount of time I can devote to reading is limited, and thus precious to me. So I'll never waste time on a bad book anymore. The only exception since then has been Jack Vance's Dying Earth omnibus, and that's because I lost that bet with GRRM.

As most of you should be aware, 7.5/10 is my threshold for a "good" novel. Anything over that mark means that it's a high quality work. Yet some bemoan the fact that few books get better marks. I'm not calling anyone a chump here, but during my years in Law School few papers and exams get a mark higher than 75%. The GPA in Law is less than 70% in most classes. You need to come up with something good indeed to warrant 80% or more. So this is more or less the approach I have here when I review a work. Unless it's an exceptional year for SFF, I feel it's normal that only a handful of titles merit a mark of 8/10 or more. Then again, I'm a dumbass and could be full of shit. . . For instance, I remember people bitching on message boards when they felt that my mark for Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold seemed too low. They felt that it deserved a perfect 10/10 or close to it. And yet, giving it a 10/10 would have meant that I put it on par with GRRM's A Storm of Swords. I mean, I love Joe and thoroughly enjoyed his latest, but it's not in the same league as A Storm of Swords. But I digress. . .

The whole point of this post has to do with the fact that I've received a shitload of emails complaining about the fact that I don't mark the Japanese animated features that I've been reviewing these last couple of weeks. And these people are trying to judge which ones I've enjoyed the most so they can give them a shot. Since I've mentioned that I've basically liked them all, they can't figure out which one comes out on top of the list.

Here's the list of those I've seen thus far:

- Princess Mononoke (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Spirited Away (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Canada, USA, Europe)
- My Neighbor Totoro (Canada, USA, Europe)
- The Cat Returns (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Sword of the Stranger (Canada, USA, Europe)
- The Place Promised in our Early Days (Canada, USA, Europe)
- 5 cm per Second (Canada, USA, Europe)

So if my scoring system is inherently flawed and obsolete, it should be a piece of cake to find out which one I enjoyed the most, right!?! If anyone can put these titles in the right order, from the best to the one I least enjoyed before I leave for work this afternoon, I'll throw in a couple of books as a prize.=)

Sounds easy, right? But you'll see it's a lot more difficult than it appears. . .

28 commentaires:

Neth said...

I give this post a rating of 7.25459, more or less. :P

Carrie said...

Do you want lists emailed, or in the comments? :) I'd like to give it a shot, especially if there are books in the offing!

Todd Newton said...

I recall disliking Princess Mononoke but thoroughly enjoyed Spirited Away. Probably couldn't have liked the Cowboy Bebop movie any more than I do.

Pretty sure scoring systems are supposed to be imperfect. Opinions are like elbows, after all.

Ryan said...

Easy, Pat, it's just the way you listed it is the way that you judge them. Subconscious man. Whoopee!! I've never won anything. Do I get to choose the books? Yeah. Awesome. You rock!! Let me know how to claim my prize. You're the bestest. Yeah, woot, woot. Thanks again, Pat.

Patrick said...

Come on, Ken. I thought I did better than that!;-)

Carrie: You guys can do it here in the comment section, and if there is a winner, that person can then get in touch with me via email.

Ryan: Sorry, dude. No luck!

Aidan Moher said...

I approve slightly more than Neth.




Antiquated Vagaries said...

I'm with you, Pat. Just say no to grade inflation!

The Mad Hatter said...

You mention you don't read any books that would be lower than a 7on your scale. How can you know every book you pick would be a 7 or higher? I read the final book in a trilogy recently where I would have rated the first book an 8 or so and the 2nd a 7. The 3rd got a 4. But I've also read many books that surprised me with their goodness even though I didn't think I would like them.

The Mad Hatter
Mad Hatter's Bookshelf

Unknown said...

you're doing well Pat. I actually prefer your rating system, since it lets me see what novels stand out from the crowd. Rating everything an 8-9 then blurs the lines too much.

Also people forget that its an "OPINION". Anyways good job with the hotlist.

To take a blind shot at it, I'd say you would rate the movies as follows:

Spirited Away
My Neighbor Totoro
5 cm per Second
Princess Mononoke
Sword of the Stranger
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
The Place Promised in our Early Days
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
The Cat Returns

I dont know if that's how you rated them, or how I would like them to be rated :P. Worth a shot!

ErrantBard said...

I agree that it is usless to read or differantiate between bad books, movies and so on. The solution is of course to set the limit for good books at 2 and everything below that is bad stuff. Then one have lots of room to grade the good ones among themselves (ofc, 10 are perhaps a bit to much, especially if you have the limit for good books at seven, why waste perfectly good steps on shit)

Blend said...

Sword of the Stranger
Spirited Away
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Princess Mononoke
5 cm per Second
The Place Promised in our Early Days
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
My Neighbor Totoro
The Cat Returns

...Heh, just a blind stab at it, but hey, why not try right?

This is Blend from malazanempire by the way, I just don't have an account with

Anonymous said...

5 cm per second
Spirited Away
Princess Mononoke
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
The Place Promised in our Early Days
My Neighbor Totoro
Sword of the Stranger
Cowboy Bebop
The Cat Returns

Paul D said...

I don't think I've ever complained about your scoring system,b ut I do have a suggestion, if you want them. I really think you need to do away with the .25 ratings. What's the difference between a 7.5 and a 7.75? I think you should go to no more than half a point, or, even better, integers only, or letter grades. I can understand the difference between an A and a B and C book, or a 10 and a 9 and an 8, but I can't tell the difference between an 8, a 7.75, a 7.5 and a 7.25. The other issue is that sometimes the text and the score don't seem to match up, but that's probably because sometimes the flaws of a book stand out alot, but having a few noticeable flaws doesn't mean a book can't be an 8.

Craig said...

1. 5 cm per Second
2. Spirited Away
3. Princess Mononoke
4. The Place Promised in our Early Days
5. My Neighbor Totoro
6. Sword of the Stranger
7. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
8. The Cat Returns
9. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Todd said...

There is no single order. You enjoyed them all!

Unknown said...

I understand where you're coming from, Pat. But for those of us who can't get past that, I offer the solution I worked out a few months ago:

When I started reading PFH, I was one of those who was immediately struck by the scoring system. I'm a math nerd - it bugged me. So I started using the equation y = 2x - 10 to translate the score into (what I consider) a more balanced 10 point scale. The original score is 'x', the revised score is 'y'. It works out pretty well, since Pat's threshold for "good" or "worth reading" (7.5 on his scale) turns out to be a 5 on the revised scale.

Anonymous said...

When are you going to get around to seeing Akira and Vampire Hunter D??

Patrick said...

Well, well, well. . .

No one was even close, I see. So I guess a scoring system is not that bad, after all.=)

Maurice said...

I second Akira! But I might be wrong, but have you mentioned watching it before?

I've not seen the whole of the Cowboy Bebop movie, but I have watched the series and the one after Samurai Champloo, which is a mix of samurais and hip hop. If you have time I recommend checking them out P.S. do you prefer watching your anime in english or in japanese with subtitles?

Cecrow said...

Darnit, am I too late already? Ah well, I would have said:

5 cm per Second ("As good as the three Miyazaki films ... even better in some ways. I never would have thought that an animated feature would touch me in such a fashion")
Spririted Away ("perhaps the very best animated feature ever")
Princess Mononoke ("I basically loved everything about [it]")
My Neighbour Totoro ("Treat yourself to something very special!")
The Place Promised in our Early Days ("Ranks right up there with the others, though it's not as touching")
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind ("follows more or less the same template as Princess Mononoke")
Sword of the Stranger ("visually impressive, although the various fight scenes are paced so fast ...")
The Cat Returns ("It may not be as good as the Miyazaki films, but it's fun and entertaining")
Cowboy Bebop ("nowhere near the quality of the previous titles I reviewed")

Or at least, this is the order I'd try watching them from top to bottom, based on what you've said.

Simeon said...

I think one should have at least basic knowledge of a medium before starting to rate. Pat doesn't know jack about anime yet (mostly because he refuses to watch tv series which are the core of anime industry), so I wouldn't find any rating he gives it informative in the least. For now at least.

Dream Girlzzz said...


This had nothing to do with Pat rating anime movies. It was just to show that without the scoring system, it's pretty damn hard to people to figure out which one he enjoyed the most, especially when he liked most of them.

Just to test this, I reread the reviews of his top 5 reads this year, and without the score I can't really say if for example The Angel's Game is better than Twelve or Dust of Dreams.

I guess the guy made his point...

Anon said...

I guess the guy made his point...
Not really. I don't think the point was ever "why do you use ratings?" It was "why do you rate books on a scale of 7.5-10 when everything that might get scored below 7.5 just gets rounded to the nearest 7.5?"

But really though, if a controversial(?) rating system that takes up all of three characters in a page long review is the biggest problem with Pat's blog, then he's got a pretty good thing going. Some people (such as me) like to tweak Pat about the scores, but I do enjoy the reviews, commentary, giveaways, interviews, etc.

Anonymous said...


So does that mean you'll give us the correct order now?

Larry Nolen said...

Well Pat, since you seem to want the commentary... ;)

I don't care one way or another if you (or another) has a rating system. Such things are nigh useless to me, in part because I prefer to focus on the particular reviewed object alone and not whether or not it fits into a larger "ranking" of other books you've read/not read.

You want people to guess in which "order" you'd rank the Japanese anime/manga that you've recently viewed/read. Doesn't work that way with me. I want to know if the particular story in question is of value; I don't consider other stories when trying to ascertain the value of the one particular book/anime being considered.

Anonymous said...

It was just a fun little contest Larry.

Though I tend to agree with you. relative ratings aren't all that useful, unless you know every item in the comaprison.

I've don't usually pay much attention to numbers. What matters to me is what the review reveals about the book and the reviewers reaction to it.

Craig said...

Larry I think you look at Pat and other reviewers use of a numerical rating system in an oversimplistic way. It is not nessesecarily used to rate different book or anime against each other but rather against a set of criteria (often unspoken criteria and not always the same criteria).

You yourself essentially do the same thing when you 'ascertain the value of the one particular book/anime being considered' as I'm sure you have criteria in your own mind to determine that value.

All in all numerical rating or no numerical rating it boils down to the same thing.

Patrick said...

The Mad Hatter: There's no way for me to know in advance if a book I pick will be worth more than 7/10.

I usually give a novel a maximum of 100 pages to win me over. If by then I feel that it will score below 7/10, I simply stop reading it. As I mentioned, I don't have time to waste on subpar works.

It happened 3 or 4 times this year...