About the Books
If you don’t already know, basically, The Hunger Games is about a girl in a dystopian society who is forced to compete in a competition, to the death, against 23 other players in order to win fame and fortune. She volunteers for the competition after her younger sister is chosen, in order to save her.
Fire & Flood is about a girl in a contemporary society who chooses to compete in a race because she is promised that the winner will receive a cure for any disease, and her brother has a mysterious illness that he could die from. At the beginning of the race, each competitor is given an egg that, at some point, will hatch into a magical animal that will help them succeed.
Similarities and Differences
So okay, yes, they both have some sort of competition in which there can only be one winner. But that’s about it. Personally, while I only read 25% of Fire & Flood before having to DNF it and therefore my opinion could be slightly wrong, I couldn’t really see the resemblance between the two. Some people obviously disagree with me, but I don’t think that it was like The Hunger Games at all. The setting was different, the family dynamics were different, the main characters were totally different, the fantasy element was different, the competitions were different…I could go on and on.
Why Does This Matter?
This is only one example of this problem, but my point is that maybe we shouldn’t be comparing books to other books. Occasionally it serves to make a point, like with issues of plagiarism/fan fiction/etc. But, more often than not, I think that it hurts both the reader and the book.
Because I’d been hearing, for weeks, about how similar Fire & Flood was to The Hunger Games, I went into the book with a completely different perspective than I would’ve if I’d heard nothing about the book. I went into it expecting it to be The Hunger Games‘ twin, but it really wasn’t. I was sort of caught off guard by my opinions on the book, because I was assuming that it was going to be so different than what it actually was. Maybe I would’ve liked it more if I hadn’t seen it compared to The Hunger Games so much! And that’s unfair to both me and the book.
Comparing one book to another paints a picture in a person’s head about a book. If you read a review for a book you were uncertain on, and they compared it to Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey, and you hate those books? I bet that you’re probably not going to add that book to your to-read list. And what if that person was wrong, or had a different perspective on the book than you might? What if you actually would’ve liked that book if you read it?
This is one of the reasons why I try to go into a book completely blind. Unfortunately, I just simply couldn’t avoid hearing the comparisons of Fire & Flood to The Hunger Games, because so many people have said it. But usually, by avoiding book reviews of books that I haven’t read yet, or tweets with certain books’ titles in them, I can read a book without having much outside influence. This helps me be completely objective about a book and decide if I like it without having the opinions of other people in the back of my mind.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
But, of course, it goes both ways…sometimes it’s helpful when a book is compared to another book. Like what if somebody compared a book to Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey and they were right? I bet you’d be happy to have figured out pre-reading the book that it probably wasn’t going to be for you. Those kinds of comparisons can help you narrow down your to-read list and save you from an ugly DNF.
But you’ll never really know whether a comparison is helpful or harmful unless you read the book for yourself. Everybody was comparing Fire & Flood to The Hunger Games. If I hadn’t already had an ARC of the book, I would’ve assumed that, because so many people had that opinion, that they were obviously right. But only through reading the book myself did I realize that I disagreed.
Personally, I’m on the side of not comparing books. But what about you?
Have you ever compared a book to another book in a review? Do you like it when you read comparisons like that in a book review? Has it ever influence your decision to read a book one way or the other? Which side are you on…pro-comparison or anti-comparison?