I want to speak to you all about an issue that I've had to confront recently. Earlier this week, I discovered that quite a few of my reviews had been plagiarized. I was appalled. As bloggers, we represent ourselves solely through our words. They are our connection to our readers, and the authors and publishers we work with. I put a lot of time and effort and a lot of myself in my reviews.
Seeing someone steal my words and pass them off as their own was horribly disheartening.
The most important part of the online YA community is the passion for the books and stories, and telling others about great reads. It's not about having the best reviews, or the most books. It's certainly not about plagiarism.
For those of you who are fuzzy on what plagiarism is: it's not just copying someone's work. It includes copying the structure and the message. You can use a thesaurus all you want, you can paraphrase everything someone else says, but that is still plagiarism, and it is still just as serious. Being subconsciously influenced by another person's review is not a good excuse for your actions--it's a downright lazy one. We all possess a mind, and are capable of coming up with our own words.
If you are having a hard time articulating your feelings for a certain book, there are a few options for you that DO NOT involve imitating another person's review that you admire. First of all, stay away from others' reviews until your own is written. Try doing what I do--grab an index card and use it as a bookmark. Then, while reading, if you come across something you like or dislike, or have a thought that you would like to include in your review, write it down. By the time you are done reading that book, you should have at least two index cards full of your own, original thoughts, and writing the review will be a cinch.
But do not plagiarize.
There may be a lot of us, but the YA book blogging community is a small one, and you will be discovered sooner or later. And believe me, it is not something anyone takes lightly.
ETA: Steph Su and Adele from Persnickety Snark have each written very excellent posts about plagiarism as well. Also be sure to check out The Story Siren's post, Lenore's, and Liz's. Ladies, thank you for the support.