Thursday, July 23, 2015

Been There, Done That. Exhausting the book genres and themes

For most readers, we hit a point in our reading where we pause and go "This book reminds me of "__X__" book.  Or even the point where every book of a certain genre (or more often sub-genre) that every book just blends with another book.  

Some popular examples are vampire novels and their over-the-top  popularity explosion after the Twilight novels.  OR dystopian books after the Hunger Games (and now Divergent).    I have heard from so many readers that they are burnt out of an genre or saying that the books are too similar and not original.

I think we all get burnt out of certain types of books once in a while.  Sometimes very specific (such as just avoiding a particular author or maybe just not into vampire romance, etc), and other times more broad (no more horror or fantasy or YA) might sum it up better.  My thing is to break away before it starts to effect your opinion of the books.   If you start to feel things are too similar or dull or over-used, etc change directions.  Pick up something completely different.  Maybe even break away from your comfort zone of reading.  

Also the more you read of a specific type of book, the more alike they can often seem.  If you have read a hundred Urban Fantasy novels then it is very easy to say it is sounding like another book.  But it doesn't mean it is the same.  For many authors, to write in a genre they have probably read their share that is already there.  So yes some elements may have stuck in their head and come out through their own writings.  And even if it is not, with all the books, movies, etc out there, it is nearly impossible to have a completely original idea. Someone, somewhere probably did something similar.  

I did a project with a group of 5th graders, to write a pirate story.  Between 2-4 pages long handwritten.  That is the only instruction they were given.  After  sharing them all, many of them had similar themes or character types to at least 1 or 2 other stories in the group of 14 kids.  So if that can happen in a small group, imagine what can happen when there are hundreds to thousands writing the same genre or theme!  Similarities can and will happen. 

For some readers, they like the similarities. Be it their comfort zone or they like to compare and contrast the stories.  Others get "burnt out" very easily.  I am somewhere in between.  When reading a book I can often find similarities to another book.  I like to focus on what makes the book original.  Are the characters unique or have some creative tick about them?  What about the relationships or the setting in which they live?  And once in a while I do get genre burnout.  All that means is time to change paces for awhile.  Sometimes a subtle shift like YA paranormal to Adult paranormal and other times a complete change is needed.  I feel it is better to do that than trudge through book after book all the while feeling that I have been here before with the last 10+ books.

What about you?  Ever suffer from this and if so what do you do.  What do you think or do with books that remind you of another book?


  1. For me, it's the dystopian books. I read the Hunger Games books after seeing the first movie, and I was very impressed. But I should have stopped there. I didn't find the Divergent series as compelling. I did enjoy Julie Kagawa's dystopian vampire Blood of Eden books, but as you pointed out, the plots/themes start running together. I just saw the first Maze Runner movie and it seemed completely unoriginal...

  2. It really depends on the quality of the book. I abandoned a book last week because it was poorly written and edited. Usually I'll search the internet and read other reviews before setting a book down. Every review I found was GLOWING. I was baffled. I did happen upon an interview the author did and she said she was inspired by Twilight. Ah, yeah, as soon as I read that I was like...yep, I can see that and I'd like to introduce you to my DNF pile.

    Sometimes reading in a comfort genre is a good thing. It relaxing being in a world you know. We can't go outside of our boxes all the time.

    Terri M., the Director
    Second Run Reviews

  3. I don't think I get burnt out all that easily. I don't mind when I see similarities between books, as long as they're well-written. But I love it when I see something brand-new and unique too!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  4. This definitely happens to me because I tend to binge on certain genres. I love dystopian (I have since I first read A Handmaid's Tale and 1984 in high school) so I was really excited when Hunger Games came out. I read other series, and some I like more than others (loved the Delirium series, but hated the second and third books in the Divergent series). I felt like I was reading a lot of YA in general, so I have been trying to read some of the other books on my shelves instead. My reading has been very diverse this year, especially because I am trying to read different genres, different authors, and more "adult" books as well.

  5. I seldom get burned out, but when it does happen it takes me a while to come out of it.

  6. I generally need a change of pace from one book to the next, even if the book is by my favorite author or part of a series. If I'm reading more than one book at a time, the genres may be the same but the author is different.

    I did get burnt out from Danielle Steel's novels. I used to read the newest one as soon as it was released but then I needed a break. They all seemed to have the same basic plot formula.


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