What Makes a Spoiler
Last July I ran a poll about spoilers in reviews and the DA crowd was pretty fairly split. I admit to being a spoiler ‘ho. It’s almost a compulsion and I know that sometimes I do actually spoil myself for a book by knowing too much before going in.
I received an ARC from Scholastic last week and it reminded me of the impending finale to the Catching Fire trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I’m a Gale shipper and I know that the first thing I am going to do when I get the ARC is turn to the end of the book to see whether I will be crushed or jubilant.
I’m an end peeker, a spoiler ‘ho, a have to know kind of reader and I do realize it is to my own detriment at times. In other circumstances, however, the spoilers make me interested in the story. I don’t think that there is anything that could have stopped me from reading that crazy mess known as Breaking Dawn because I had to be able to see the insanity for myself.
As KMont pointed out in our poll thread, spoilers in reviews can lead to a deeper discussion.
Another thing about spoilers, they allow me to get deeper into the review than no spoilers does, and hopefully that sparks some conversation.
Author Maya Banks actively wants spoilers in reviews
Yes, God yes. Love spoilers. It's the ONLY time a review has the power to sell me on a book. It's knowing story components and plot points that'll get me to either buy or not buy a book. An opinion pretty much means squat to me.
Alternatively Amy asks why a reviewer would ruin a book that they are recommending and for some spoilers can lead to a lot of ruination.
Sometimes giving away the plot is essential to give an honest review -‘ especially if it's something the reviewer thinks will ruin the book for people. That being said, I don't think I've ever read a great review where the reviewer gave away a major plot twist-after all, why ruin a book they're recommending?
And author Kate Pearce offers an author/reader differing point of view:
Well, as a writer when I've spent quite a while writing the book and setting up some hopefully interesting plot turns and dark moments and then someone gives them all away in the review I get a bit fed up, because it might put some people off trying the book.
BUT-as a reader if someone gives me a 'spoiler alert' I'm okay because I can choose to read it or not.
and Tee agrees because she wants to enjoy the discovery of details herself.
I don't like them and I know that reviews can be written without including them. Let spoilers be on message boards (CLEARLY LABELED AND FOREWARNED), but not in professional reviews. I read a lot of suspense and think that would totally ruin the story for me. One time someone nonchalantly spoke of the blindness of a character in a book I was reading and it spoiled that particular effect royally, when I should have been just as surprised as she was when she discovered it for the first time.
I think that the easy way to meet everyone’s split views on spoilers is to clearly mark them. But the problem is what makes a spoiler? Some readers think anything, even the blurb, is a spoiler.
From a review standpoint, it’s difficult to determine what is and is not a spoiler. Generally speaking, that the couple ends up together is not a spoiler in romances. But if I review a book that is NOT a romance, I almost always include whether there is a “satisfying” ending (which is Jane speak for THEY GET IT ON WITH AN HEA DUDETTES). So that’s a spoiler but I figure if you read a romance review blog, you kind of want to know that stuff. Also, generally speaking, I think anything within the first six chapters or so is fair game or if it is on the author’s website or if it is in the blurb. I don’t see that as a spoiler.
Sometimes I just KNOW what a spoiler is. When I read Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady, there was a big surprise in the early part of the book and I knew that if I were a reader, like Tee, I would want to discover the surprise for myself. But most of the time, the spoilers, or what readers may view as spoilers, aren’t so easily identifiable.
I recently reviewed Sarah Addison Allen’s book, The Girl Who Chased the Moon. The Publishers’ Weekly review tells part of the plot relating to Julia that I guessed but didn’t learn about until later in the book. I would have though that was a spoiler but PW did not.
What do you think is a spoiler? Do you have guidelines? A certain percentage of the book is fair game? Something that surprises you as a reader? Is the ending always or never a spoiler? What’s fair game?