So, last week, in addition to posting my very great sadness about the divorce of Madonna and Guy Ritchie*, I posted some reviews. One of those reviews was for Personal Demons, and I noticed, when reading it, that it sounded rather familiar.
So I saw the name of the reviewer was Lisa, and remembered that the League's good buddy Lisa, who also posts and reviews at Urban Fantasy Land, did some work for Bitten by Books, the site I quoted last week on my blog. It was the same review she posted there. (And by the way, I see UFL is looking for some new team members as well; I'm sure we have some readers at the League who would be of great value to the site. We love UFL here [AND Bitten by Books, and all the sites in our sidebar], and think it's awesome, and you should visit it several times a day and help it grow! Sorry, just my little plug there.)
Anyway. I forgot to mention in my lj post that it was the same review, and it gave Lisa quite a start. Oops.
But it reminded me of something. Once before I got a review which seemed to me, at least in one particular line, to be very similar to a review I'd gotten elsewhere; I hunted around until I found that one, and compared them, and looked at a few others, and decided that it was simply an innocent similarity (I noticed several review sites used the same sort of line: This is an excellent book about [subject A] and [subject B]; the A and B being something like "vampires and love", or "demons and love"; or whatever.)
Am I the only writer who does this? I kind of feel like it's my duty to; I'm the one who sees all the reviews, after all. While I imagine most reviewers also check other review sites, I'm also sure that they write so many reviews they're not necessarily going to remember exactly what they said about every book; they would recognize their own words, of course (as Lisa did) but they may not recognize a similarity with a review they wrote months before, especially as I believe most of them read a LOT, write a LOT of reviews, and quite possibly have their own writing projects they work on as well.
What do you guys do, in this case? If a line in a review strikes you as familiar, do you hunt around for others to compare? What would you do if you found outright plagiarism in a review?
I assumed what I would do would be first to not post the review on my blog, and next to contact the site administrator and copy both reviews, and let them see what they think and handle it as they see fit. If it was really, clearly a case of plagiarism I would contact the original reviewer as well. But beyond that...what? And how clear a case would it have to be, especially as some reviews are simply more formulaic than others, which would necessitate similarities like those? (Note: I'm not saying reviewers are formulaic or implying anything, just that some review sites have particular rules about how reviews should be written and what they should contain, for the ease of their readers--which is perfectly acceptable. It's not meant in any way to say that sites that do this aren't good or their reviewers are hacks or anything of that nature, at all, so please don't take it that way.)
Just as I would hope a reader who spots what appears to be another writer stealing from me would email me and let me know, I would think the reviewer would need to be informed. But at the same time, just because a review uses the same phrases, doesn't mean it was stolen; there are only so many ways to say "This is a very sexy book", for example.
What do you guys think? Do you look for this sort of thing in reviews, is it a concern for you? How would you handle it if you noticed two matching reviews written by different people?
*And by "my very great sadness", I mean: It was just something to blog about, and I couldn't give less of a fuck about Madonna or Guy Ritchie and his lame movies.