I touched briefly on my lack of specific rating categories for different genres in the original post, but that's not exactly what this is about. Perhaps I'll discuss that at another time, when I've sorted all my opinions out. What I do want to talk about today is the harshness of my ratings when it comes to different genres.
Specifically, I have the tendency to be more critical of contemporary novels than any other genre. I don't know about you guys, but it makes sense in my mind why this would be the case.
Based on my experiences, there are less "categories" that I have to rate when it comes to contemporary. For one, there's no world-building to critique. Contemporary is about the present on this very planet, so there's not much world that needs building that we don't already know about. Also, although romance can be a part of contemporaries, it seems that there are more books without a romantic focus in the contemporary genre than any other.
In addition, since it's a story that takes place in our world, I want the story to have meaning. In my opinion, it needs substance; it needs an emotional plot and deeper character development than any other genre. While I know there are "cutesy" contemporaries that can be as equally as enjoyable to read, unless they're executed brilliantly, they rarely receive above 4 stars in my book.
Lastly, the characters play even more of a role in the story. Unlike science fiction or fantasy, the plot of a contemporary novel cannot be carried by the evil villains or magic and mayhem. In my opinion, the best characters in contemporaries have to be written better and must be more flawed, more raw, and often more emotionally hurt to make it a good story. They are the driving force of the plot, after all. And not only do they need to go through greater catharses than in other genres, but I also have to like them. Not that I want to read about horrid characters in other genres, but it makes even more of a difference in contemporaries.
So in summary, I guess what I meant to say is that my criteria for contemporaries is almost identical to my criteria for other genres, but said criteria matters even more for me in contemporaries.
What do you guys think? Do you rate specific genres more harshly than others?