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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Spoil Me This

In my review of Divergent, I didn’t reveal a significant choice the main character, Tris, made early on in the book. When I linked to a review by Presenting Lenore, I said “Warning: slight spoiler there about what faction Tris selects. So don’t click if you don’t want to know; on the other hand, Tris makes her choice by page 47.” In the comments to my review, Lenore said, “Oops! I guess I should’ve had a spoiler warning. icon smile Spoil Me This  I just thought her choice was so obvious, I didn’t even think about it!!”

For Divergent, I was probably being ridiculously cautious. It did get me thinking, though…

How much — or how little — to give away in a review or discussion or book talk is hard!

I once listened to a book talk that began, “Melinda was raped at a back to school party…. ” and I was like WHAT? You’re kidding me! How can you tell that up front!

Sometimes, for some books, I like discovering things for myself. Other times, though, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not I know the outcome of a book. As a matter of fact, knowing the ending can make me like a book more, because I get a better appreciation for things like plotting and characterization.

I also look at my blog posts as a mix of review (what works for the book), recommendation (hey, here is a cool book!) and discussion (can you believe what happened?).

And, to be honest, it also depends on how new the book is. At this point, given that Hunger Games is now a trilogy, it’s hardly a spoiler to say who won the Games in book one . . . unless, of course, you’re booktalking it as a recommendation.

What do you consider a spoiler? Does it matter to you as a reader? As a blogger, how much do you tell about what happens in a book?

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. adrienne says:

    I think I’m like you in that what I am okay with knowing about a book shifts depending on what the book is. Every once in a while, if I’m really enjoying a book, I read the last couple chapters to slow down my obsessive reading so I can do things like sleep and go to work. I don’t find that diminishes my enjoyment of the whole. That said, sometimes I’ll avoid reviews of a book I know I want to read or a movie I know I want to see until after I’ve read or seen whatever it is. With books I am unfamiliar with, sometimes it’s the spoilers that make me want to read the thing. Fine line, I guess.

  2. Sondy says:

    I tend to decide by how early in the book the “spoiler” occurs. For example, in Twilight, Bella doesn’t learn for quite awhile that Edward is a vampire, so normally I’d be hesitant to mention that. However, the book’s own cover copy gives it away and it’s very widely known.

    A book I just read by Angela Cerrito has on the cover: Ryan was dead. I am a murderer. So it’s not a spoiler to tell that Ryan dies. But the whole book is about finding out what happened, so I’d better not tell too much about that.

    With the Queen’s Thief series, telling about any later book is almost always a spoiler for the earlier books, so it’s very awkward.

    I guess it’s a judgment call as to how much of the enjoyment of the book involves finding out the particular thing you’re referring to. Anything that’s obvious at the start is fair game, but things that happen 47 pages in? Well, that’s a judgment call.

  3. Kaethe says:

    I tend not to read detailed reviews about plot, or even dust jackets, because discovering what happens next is part of the pleasure. But, if it’s about a book I don’t want to read, I’ll usually search out spoilers so I know what I’m missing. So go ahead, write whatever you feel like. If you liked it, I’m sure I will, too.

  4. Doret says:

    I hate spoilers. If someone says warning spoilers, I won’t read the review unless I have no plans to read the book. I never want to know the ending before I get to it. Never ever. I try my best to avoid spoilers. If its a book that’s filled with revelations, to avoid giving too much away, I use the book blurb and what’s on the jacket flap as a guide. Sometimes I will even check whats on amazon or the publisher page. I figure as long as what I write is within what’s already been written I am avoiding spoilers.

    And I love the Spoil Me This title, its reminds me of the original Batman, which I loved.

  5. Personally, I really only worry about spoilers in heavily plot-driven books. If someone had revealed the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Mockingjay to me before I’d read them myself, I would have been monumentally disappointed. I also don’t want to know who the murderer is in a murder mystery, or who the girl will choose in a love triangle. Knowing those things ahead of time defeats the purpose for reading the story.

    But sometimes – at least in the case of much of the contemporary children’s and YA fiction I read – a book is mostly about the character, and I’m reading the book, essentially, to spend time with that character. In those cases, knowing the ending doesn’t matter, because the destination isn’t important. The journey alongside that character is what makes the story.

    But personal preferences aside, my blog is spoiler-free. I don’t want to be that annoying person who inadvertently ruins something for someone. I want my visitors to feel comfortable reading what I post. So basically if the publisher hasn’t revealed it in its own summary of the book, I keep it under wraps as well.

  6. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    adrienne, “slow down my obsessive reading”. I think I’ll try this line in the future, because I usuallly get appalled looks from authors when I mention I sometimes read the last few chapters of the book.

    sondy, great point about what is on the cover/book.

    kaethe, thanks! and I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets “i may want to read that book, so i won’t read anything about it”

    doret, then I will continue with my “spoiler” warnings. Let me know if when I do that I need to leave some more “space” before I go on.

    katie, terrific observation about whether or not the book is plot driven in terms of whether spoilers matter. I find myself caring more about not being spoiled with books like HP & rushing to read it before spoilering can happen.

  7. Jodie says:

    One of the few things about spoilering that does bother me (I’m mostly ok with knowing plots as long as the book being described isn’t something like Liar, where 50% of the effect of the book is dependant on sudden twists) is when people spoil books in reviews of unrelated books. The other day I was quute happily reading a review of something only to find out the ending to The Hunger Games trilogy. I can avoid HG reviews myself, knowing that spoilers are probably inevitable, but when spoilers are revealed in unrelated reviews what am I to do?

  8. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Jodie, good point. Also, at what point is a spoiler warning no longer necessary, in a “rosebud is a SPOILER” way? I also find that I’m less concerned with making spoiler warnings in comments.

  9. MotherReader says:

    I like to go into a book pretty blind, which means that I skip a lot of online reviews – or skim them – so that I don’t get something spoiled for me. Yet, at the same time I depend on these blogs to show me good books. It’s a quandary.

  10. I’m torn about spoilers. I try to avoid them in my reviews, but it’s some books are hard to properly review w/o spoiling something. I don’t get upset about spoilers b/c my students unintentionally spoil books for me all the time :) Most of them ask me first if I’ve read it (and most times I have), but there are some who are just so excited they jump right in to telling me everything about the book.

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