Dishing Junk: Comparing One Book to Another
Why am I feeling self-conscious?
This week I read Touched by Corrine Jackson and I had to pause in my review, because the first thing that came to mind was…
It was just like Twilight.
I’m not one that coins these phrases in my review lightly. I don’t snidely compare other young adult paranormals to THE YAPNR with abandon and derision (only when it is VERY obvious, like here). I think it is an unnecessary joining of two books that might have no conjunction except maybe their genre and will only do this if the book was obviously used as “inspiration.”
I read a post about a year ago that went OFF on people that do this. Using terminology like “vomit” and “hate” it made me pause and frankly a bit self-conscious when I go to compare one book to another. I DON’T LIKE TO BE SELF-CONSCIOUS. I’m a pretty confident person, I usually don’t mind just saying what is on my mind and screw the consequences. You think I’m shit for saying that, so be it, you don’t like it, that is your deal, accept it or move on. Don’t hang around and make me feel like crap for my opinion, because I won’t make you feel like shit when you voice your own. I’m not going to link to that post because I don’t want to shine a negative light on it. It was her opinion and it made sense when she wrote it…but it did make feel self-conscious. Which…is a lesson that I have to remember when I write my own ranty pieces.
But, I digress. The topic is of course is BOOK COMPARISONS when writing a review, not rant posts that make me feel self-conscious. Especially when comparing books to Twilight or other big names, like The Hunger Games.
I’ve been known to do a “this book is like The Hunger Games mixed with The Vampire Diaries” type descriptions. And I think there is nothing wrong with this. I think it gives readers a good comparison, if you like those two things, you’ll probably like this book. I also include similar books in the footer of the review. You like this book, you’ll probably like these too..
Yet, on occasion…a book stands-out as using too many elements that you can’t look past the similarities. It is one thing to have a vampire in the story, or a love-triangle, it is another to have a family dynamic that is similar, congruent scenes and antagonists. Makes you pause and ask “what book am I reading?”
When things like this happen within a book, I love pointing out the similarities. It is obvious to me, why wasn’t it obvious to the publisher? Or was it, and they are just using the Twilight craze to sell their own rip-offs? Or, am I being unfair to the book? Should I just accept that there are no original ideas and certain books will probably overlap ideas?
Unfair, usually doesn’t come up when I review a book though. If the author decided to use a very popular book as inspiration…isn’t it my job to point out the similarities? I know authors like Kresley Cole (cue light breaking through the heavens music) will not read books within the genre/type they write within. JUST so she won’t accidentally use that book as inspiration. When she said this at a signing, I wanted to cry for her. Think about the great books she is missing with her genre!
Why can’t other authors be like the amazing Cole? Why must some resort to regurgitating ideas that were already popularized by other great authors? I think, it boils down to originators and parasites and takes the form in all walks of life. There are some people that have great ideas and they implement them with precision and class and their are others that find inspiration from these originators and offer secondary, half-assed versions of the original. On some occasions they actually take the idea and make it better and become quite popular for an idea that is not even their own. It sounds terrible, but even films like FINDING NEMO was supposably based on a “stolen” idea.
I do believe I’m talking myself into a circle with this one. I just know that when I went to write my Touched review, I felt self-conscious when I wrote Twilight for the first time. On pondering this pause, it brought me back to a year ago and a few rant posts that I had read. I shouldn’t have paused, I shouldn’t have felt self-conscious. The book is too similar to Twilight. I shouldn’t be afraid to say that.
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