Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bookish pet peeve: Blurb comparisons

You know what I love? An incredible, original new book! There's nothing quite like reading something new and finding it completely unlike anything else you've ever read. Obviously there are common tropes that make appearances in a lot of YA fiction, but as long as they're done well and the author puts his or her own spin on it, I'm happy. You know what I don't love? Books that claim to be something else. Books that compare themselves to other books.

For reasons I cannot understand, publishers like to begin or end blurbs with things such as "for fans of..." or "this popular book meets that popular book!" I'm not talking about retellings, in which case it would make total sense to compare the book to the tale being retold. No, I'm talking about books that directly compare themselves to other books or even TV shows, and authors that compare themselves to other, popular authors.

"But Tracy," you ask, "what brought on this post?" Allow me to share with you one of the craziest things I've ever seen.

Here, let me copy that quote just in case you couldn't see it clearly:

"Celaena is as much an epic hero as Frodo or Jon Snow." --Tamora Pierce

Listen guys, I get it. A lot of people adore the Throne of Glass series and a lot of people love Celaena. I understand, I do! But somewhere along the way, someone thought THAT quote was the one that should be used in advertisements? A quote comparing Celaena to Frodo and Jon Snow. I have read some of the Throne of Glass series and, even if Celaena is a fantastic protagonist, comparing her to Frodo? That's just too much.

I have also pulled together a few other examples of these kinds of comparisons from recent and upcoming books:

The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab. 
A genre-bending thriller from Stefan Bachmann for fans of The Maze Runner and Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods. (A Drop of Night)
The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. (Blood Rose Rebellion)
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike comes a truly original new novel—Breaking Bad meets Marie Antoinette... (Glitter)
It's the Salem Witch Hunt meets Mean Girls in this deliciously suspenseful novel by an author who is a descendant of one the real trial's most infamous accusers. (How to Hang a Witch)
Honestly, I'm even less inclined to buy a book that compares itself to something else. Why? Because I don't want to spend the entire reading experience comparing. If a book's synopsis says it's perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, chances are I will be looking for ways it's similar instead of focusing on the possibly fantastic story between the covers!

What I would really love is for someone in the publishing industry to weigh in and let us know: does this actually help sell books? Why wouldn't it be better to focus on what the book unique instead of comparing it to other things? The world wants to know!

Personally, I find it much better if a book sells me on its own merits instead of trying to pull me in with a gimmick, but I'm curious to know what you think! Do you buy books based on blurb comparisons? Have you ever avoided a book because of a comparison? Let me know in the comments!