Friday, July 24, 2015

Authors 'Copying' Their Own Books

It's happened a few times now: I find a new (or, at least, new-to-me) author and I grab a book of theirs that sounds wonderful and read it. It was great, I mean really, really great. So I either wait impatiently for their next book, or start perusing their backlog. Which ever it is, I finally get my hands on another book of theirs. Excitedly I pop the book open and start reading.

But…It's strange, I feel like this story is familiar. (The people, the plot, something. Admittedly, it's usually the people.) It goes beyond the style of the author. In fact…it almost seems like this book is a rip-off. A rip-off of the previous book by the same author!

I've read some books that feel like copies of other, very popular books. And there's the fads and phases that always occur in books. (The vampire resurgence thanks to Twilight. The dystopia setting gaining popularity thanks to The Hunger Games and Divergent. The fairy tale retelling craze thanks to…hmm, I'm not actually sure what really started that. Cinder? Throne of Glass? Wicked? Something older?)

I'm not one of those people that will rip on a book just because it has some aspect in common with another book. Because, honestly, in this day and age, you won't find a book that's completely original. Everything's a copy of something else. (Even 'original' books like The Lord of the Rings was inspired by - and somewhat based on - Beowulf.)

However, I always can't help but to feel a little cautious of authors when two of their books (or more!) feel like copies of one another. I might have loved the first one, but the second one causes my interest to wane. (Weren't we already here?) What makes it even worse for me is when it's the characters and not the plot that feels recycled.

Because I'm a character reader. (I've got a discussion about that in the works, so I won't go into it any more here.) When the main character in book B feels like a copy (and, usually a bad one) of the main character in book A, I start to wonder - can't this author write any other type of character? Will I be doomed to - assuming I keep reading their books - be stuck with increasingly copied characters until they all seem generic?

So, sound off, readers. Have you ever experienced a 'copied' book by the same author? How do you deal with it, if you have? Have you ever had a secondary character's personality change before his/her feature book? (I have! Totally not bragging about that because, honestly!)