I’m finding more and more book reviewers comparing one book to another and focusing on similarities instead of letting a book stand on its own merits. That can be a dangerous pitfall as every book can be similar to another one and eventually will be. You can lose out on a great story, and you hurt the author’s work by judging it against something else instead of on its own merits.
Over and over my book, Deep Connections, has been compared to Twilight. Why? Because I had Native American men who changed into wolves and for a brief time there was a love triangle. Oh, and someone wanted to kill the main girl. There were no vampires, no teenagers as the love interest, and no story just based on the addiction of one person’s blood. My book is nothing like Twilight or at least any more than a million other books written over the last century.
Now what was the problem with them comparing the two books like that? Well, first of all it gives other potential readers the idea that when they read my book they will just get a rip off of Meyers’ books. That is so far from the truth. They might have liked the Twilight series and will not enjoy mine at all. Or they hated the series but will love mine. By comparing it to Twilight, the reader has a pre-formed idea of what my book will be like and might pass it over. That’s unfair to the book and to the reader.
Another problem is that every book can easily be compared to others. Aspects of many other books previously published can be found in the Harry Potter and Twilight books. These series were not the first to present these types of scenes, characters, and events. Yet if they were compared heavily to previously published works, readers would not have looked at them as the well-done works they were. They took familiar stories or scenarios and gave them a new twist.
Even the Hunger Games series can be compared to the short story, The Lottery. Many of the elements of that powerful and classic piece can be found in the basis of this contemporary popular book. Yet the stories are not the same.
When you compare books to each other, you ignore the creative aspects that make them different. Book A and Book B might have many similar aspects, but think on how they are different. Did they take a unique angle toward it? Did they add in characters that really helped the story develop? Is the story more modern? What if a writer gives you a book that is a modern Cinderella story? Do you get so hooked up on the fact that it is similar to the original tale that you will stop reading it or give it a low rating when you review it? No, you look at how they took a familiar story and made it unique. The same should be done with all books. How are they different and unique?
You can mentally note the similarities between works, but unless they are almost complete mirror images with a few differences or was written to be a spoof, don’t mention the other books. It might stop a reader from picking up a book they would have loved otherwise. Meyer did not write the first vampire book. Rowlings did not write the first magic book. Yet both were able to create unique works that brought in familiar themes but gave the reader a new perspective.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.