There is a conversation I’m getting tired of hearing ’round these parts. “These parts” being my place of work, of course. And that conversation goes something like this:
Girl A: Oh, you’re reading a new book? What is it?
Girl B: [shows cover] It’s good, but it’s just like Twilight.
Girl A: Really? Is it about vampires?
Girl B: No, there aren’t any vampires.
Girl A: Oh. Are there werewolves?
Girl B: No. It’s more like [fills in the blank with “zombies” or something similar].
Girl A: Oh. So what about it reminds you of Twilight?
Girl B: Well, it’s about a girl who [does something that never happens in Twilight] and then she meets this guy, and some weird stuff happens, and eventually they start liking each other.
Girl A: *snort* You’re right. That is TOTALLY a Twilight rip-off.
Okay, so here’s why this drives me up the wall: Just because a YA novel happens to A) involve something paranormal and B) include a love story of some kind DOES NOT MEAN it is a rip-off of Twilight.
Sure, maybe the author of the novel was inspired by Twilight. Maybe they read the series and loved it so much that they wanted to create their own world, their own paranormal monsters, their own love story.
But unless their book is about a high school girl who moves to Seattle, lives with her dad, meets a family of good vampires, is subsequently hunted by evil vampires, falls in love with a vamp-boy, goes through severe depression when vamp-boy leaves her, starts to develop a thing for her Native American werewolf friend, goes to Italy to rescue vamp-boy, marries vamp-boy and births vamp-baby, then becomes a vampire herself, well, IT’S NOT A RIP-OFF.
(And if I just threw out so many spoilers that the series is ruined for you forever, well, I’m sorry. But if you were going to read it, you probably would have by now.)
Just because Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy includes vampires doesn’t make it Twilight.
Just because Amy Plum’s Die For Me involves a family of paranormals doesn’t make it Twilight.
And just because Anne Riley’s The Clearing includes a quasi-love triangle doesn’t make it Twilight. (No, nobody has said that. I just wanted to see my name up there with Kiersten and Amy.)
Now, I did recently get an ARC that smacks of Twilight a bit too much for me; so obviously there are some cases in which the “inspiration” of a book turns into borderline plagiarism.
But what they say is true: There are no completely original plotlines left. All we can do is try to make an original twist, an original character, an original motive, an original conflict.
And that, my friends, is much easier said than done.