How Similar Is Too Similar || On Reviewing Books That Feel The Same

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Hey loves! It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a discussion post, but this one was just demanding to be written after the past few books I’ve read, so I’m here to discuss. The topic I want to talk about today is books that are very, very similar, so similar that they almost start to feel like the same book!

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What Are Some Examples?

A lot of books these days feel very similar. Some tropes are used time and time again, some love stories feel like one another. With so many books out in the world, stories are bound to seem slightly similar!

With that being said, there are some books that feel just so similar that they start to feel like rip offs and plagiarism.

One such book that I’ve mentioned before is Carry On (I gave 3.5 stars).Rowell’s take on the “chosen one” story is really just a take on Harry Potter (I gave 5 stars). There are so many parallels is feels like the same story! The orphan boy goes to live in a magical boarding school, and meets all the same characters: counterparts for Draco, Hermione, Cho, Dumbledore, Hagrid, and more that I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

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The next book that I recently read was a book that’s been extremely hyped lately: The Gilded Wolves (I gave 4 stars). Some of the similarities to Six of Crows (I gave 5 stars) include: a six person (four guys and two girls) heist, and characters that read exactly like Kaz, Inej, and Wylan.

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Finally, I recently read The Girl At Midnight (I gave 4 stars), which ended up exactly like Daughter of Smoke and Bone (I gave 5 stars). It’s about a human girl raised by monsters, two races of creatures at war forever, and characters that felt exactly like Karou, Akiva, Brimstone, the White Wolf, and more.

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What About Rating Them?

Now the thing is, I really enjoyed all six of the books I mentioned here. All of the original books I feel were ripped off were five star reads for me, and as I really enjoyed the plots and stories of those books, I also really enjoyed the plots and stories of the other ones!

But, while reading these books, I couldn’t help but drawing comparisons for the other books. Every time something similar happened, I immediately thought of the other book so that I couldn’t even fully immerse myself in that new world. While on their own these books were good, they were nowhere near as good as the other ones, and that made them seem all the worse by comparison.

Another thing was I felt a bit hesitant giving them glowing reviews while they were so similar to the other books. I can’t help but think that surely they must have read the original books and taken bits from those for their stories; I know that there are coincidences, different people have similar opinions, but these books are so widely known and their stories echo so similarly it would be insane if it were coincidence! I just feel like if I were an author and I read a book so similar to mine I would be upset, and that it would almost feel like plagiarism, like someone too my idea and sold it and made money. And so because of that I don’t feel completely comfortable giving them amazing reviews and ratings

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What Makes Books Distinct?

So now I’ve come to wondering just what exactly makes a book so similar that I feel I simply can’t love it. For me, I think that ultimately it’s the characters. Above, I stated that all of the books that so closely mirrored the other books had characters that seemed like essentially the same person with a different name.

With so many stories in the world, some of them are bound to have similar plots. There are so many, hundreds probably of stories about chosen ones, wizards saving the world. There are tons of heist stories, both in books and movies, that people love to read. And urban fantasies about monsters and wars are hardly scarce.

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But the characters…

  • Draco and Baz: both The Chosen One’s enemies, obsessed with him in school, coming from wealthy almost noble families, cruel on the outside but with more depth beneath.
  • Inej and Laila: both performers, spies, the close confident and love interest of the leader of their crew, determined to work for him temporarily to accomplish their ultimate goal.
  • Akiva and Caius: in the past and now again they were both in love with a member of the enemy race, one of them now being the main character human girl, both fought in the war and killed many of her family, both searching for a peaceful end to the war.

Characters really drive books for me, and while I know that many books share the same premises, I feel like characters and their personalities should really be unique to a book. Maybe if one is the same it’s okay, but above I just listed one of many duplicate characters from the books, and with these similarities I just can’t read these books without comparing them to the other ones, and, consequently, don’t feel right giving them high ratings.

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Let’s Chat

This post ended up a lot longer than I intended it to be! Have you read these books and do you think they’re really similar as well? Do you feel comfortable giving books that are so similar to other books high ratings? What makes a book too similar for you? I’d love to chat in the comments below ❤

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15 thoughts on “How Similar Is Too Similar || On Reviewing Books That Feel The Same

  1. Great post! I think Harry Potter and Carry On are extremely similar and well, I didn’t like that but I felt that while Carry On was kind of a spin off of Harry Potter, it is another book because of the writing and the romance.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I definitely have stumbled upon this too and it can get awkward?! Like sometimes there’s no way the stories were influenced (due to being close out or something) but other times it’s like, yikes 😂But then sometimes it’s just the tropes that are similar and I guess no ONE book can control a trope (like Harry Potter being the only magical school allowed) so I don’t know!! It’s good to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! The only time I’ve reviewed a book that’s similar to another book is with The Gilded Wolves vs Six of Crows. I also found them to be really similar, but I think the thing that let me give The Gilded Wolves 5 stars was that I found the characters to be really different.

    I think similarities among books are bound to pop up, especially when you have similar tropes in play. When I was a kid my dad convinced me that Percy Jackson copied Harry Potter (magically protected location meant to teach children, a chosen one, a male friend, and the smart girl keeping them alive, the wise teacher running the show, etc.), but ultimately looking back on them now I can see they are different books with different characters serving different purposes.

    I’m not sure I really answered your questions, but those are my general thoughts on the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great discussion. I think similarities in books will happen and now more often in YA. In the case of Carry On, it was intended that way I think. It is almost a parody and there are also other nods to popular series incorporated in it not jus Harry Potter. The others you mentioned I have not read yet but The Gilded Wolves is awesome. I know it is difficult not to compare but same tropes used in different books may may bring about the similarities despite them entirely different books.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great post! Carry On is essentially fan fiction, but I hear there were some problems based on legality and ownership. I agree with all your points… I think it can become easy to write something that’s worked before, that might be why it’s done.

    Liked by 1 person

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