Thursday, June 9

To Compare or Not??

by Margie Senechal

When writers submit their query letters they're encouraged to compare their book or do a mashup--my book is Harry Potter meets Charlotte's Web.  This is conceivably so that the agent or publisher immediately knows what he's handling. In my example, apparently spider wizards.

And when a book is marketed, it's done again. "This is the next Gone Girl." How many times have you heard or seen that one?

I hate to be told it's the next Gone Girl. Because, number one, it never is. Not even close, usually. And secondly, because if I'm told it's the next Gone Girl, as I'm reading the book, I'm trying to figure out the twist instead of actually just enjoying the book. I begin the book not trusting anything I'm reading.

Yesterday, I received an ARC for Behind Closed Doors by B.A.Paris and it's been billed as 2016's Gone Girl or Girl On The Train. I've read just the first forty pages and already, I'm trying to outwit the writer, trying to puzzle out the twist I feel has to be coming. Okay, so maybe everyone doesn't read like this. Or do they???

This week, I read Kristin Harmel's When We Meet Again. I am a huge fan of Ms. Harmel's and ordered the book as soon as I heard it was coming and anxiously awaited for it to download Monday night as 9:00 PST is midnight EST.

Earlier, I'd read this review, Harmel’s newest book, WHEN WE MEET AGAIN, is perhaps one of the most moving and powerful stories of all time, and potentially one of her best entries in the field thus far.” (RT Book Reviews)

WOW. That is some review. Most moving and powerful stories of all time??? I mean, think of that. All time encompasses Gone With The Wind, Jane Austen, Hemingway...

By the time I received it and started reading, I was expecting an earth-shattering, life-altering experience. And while I enjoyed the book immensely, it didn't change my life--except for those hours that I did nothing but read. 

However, a couple of weeks ago, I read Harmel's novella, How To Save A Life and got a book hangover from the moving story. It was one of those times when I didn't want the story to end and I just savored the feeling the words. For me, it was a more moving and powerful story than the one that was labeled as such by RT Reviews.

As I'm coming to close, I'm not sure that I have a point to this post. So, I'll ask you, how do you feel about reviews and comparisons? If you hear it compared to something you've read and enjoyed, do you get unfair expectations that aren't fulfilled? Or do you even pay attention to the reviews???


  1. Now you've made me think... And I do what you do; I look for how the new story resembles the old one instead of enjoying it for what it is. It reminds me of those, If you like Nora Roberts, you'll like Liz Flaherty, things (how was that for subliminal?)...usually I don't see what one author has to do with the other.

    Good post, Margie!

    1. Phew! So, it's not just me :) thank you, Liz. And if it's any consolation, I choose you over La Nora every time.

  2. It's not just you and so many times when I read a review that starts, "If you loved..." then I'm nearly always disappointed. That's sad because if the book hadn't been presented that way, I probably would've enjoyed it on its own. Comparisons aren't really fair because they create expectations and then if a reader is disappointed, it'll show reviews and how is that fair to the author who probably wasn't writing the next "***," he or she was simply writing their own story.

    1. Ironically, I have less than 100 pages left on the ARC I mentioned above and it is perversely compulsive reading, dare I say it? Like Gone Girl.

      That said, had I read that in the review/description, I might not have selected it just because of my disbelief. But, since it was mailed to me for free..I tried it and got sucked in, but good.

  3. I don't pay a lot of attention to reviews online, but I do pay attention to friends' recommendations - either in person or on social media - much more than anonymous reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, etc. I'm not sure why that is...and the 'if you liked ___'...those always end badly for me. *sigh*

    1. I take friend recs more seriously than any reviews--because I know them and trust their judgement.