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What Makes a Spoiler

I like spoilers in reviews.

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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?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Gina
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 04:22:07

    It depends on how the spoiler is done. Is it just glimpses to wet the appetite for more or is it so much that you feel like you know all there is to know?

    Most of what I read has an HEA – a spoiler in itself to know that at the end of the book everyone will ride off into the sunset on an orgasm – so getting juicy peaks at the story within either solidifies my desire to read or my knowing the book isn’t for me.

    Some spoilers though – big giant ones – like the end of Sixth Sense or Shutter Island – those enormous, alter your perception of everything that came before – those secrets should be taken to the grave.

  2. Lynne Connolly
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 04:54:17

    Some books are best read unspoiled. They just are. If anyone had given away the ending of the Lymond saga in “Checkmate,” it would have significantly spoiled my first reading of the series. Dunnett keeps you guessing almost to the last page. And yes, read it. Plough through the first book, if you have to, it’s so worth it.

    I just read a Harlequin with “pregnant” in the title. Well the heroine doesn’t get pregnant until the last third of the book, so they spoiled themselves, and frequently do in title or blurb or both.

    I voted “no,” above, but with a lot of reservations. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, and I really don’t want to know the details before I read the book, but sometimes there’s an issue later on that can make or break a book for a reader. So yes, I like spoilers in reviews, but I want them concealed so I can come back later, after I’ve read the book, and read it then. I want to choose when I read the spoiler. What if I’d known all the twists when I first read “Great Expectations”? I hurtled through that book, breathless to discover what came next and the twist gobsmacked me. I was nine years old and totally taken up by the book. But that is regularly spoiled, and I can’t help thinking that Dickens, who brought the books out in monthly “episodes” would have been disappointed.
    At one time in my career, I used to work at Granada TV, which produces the soap “Coronation Street.” I worked in script archives, and we kept a copy of the advance storyline and future scripts in the safe in our office. The copies were guarded carefully, and limited in number, and anyone who came into contact with them had to sign an agreement that if they gave it away, that would be grounds for instant dismissal. A couple of the actors were fired for doing just that while I was there (well, they’d wanted to get rid of one of them anyway).
    Nowadays, “Coronation Street” and other soaps are regularly spoiled. Shame, I think. One of the delicious parts of reading a book for the first time is not knowing what happens next.
    So do the spoilers, but please warn first.

  3. library addict
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 05:02:06

    If it's a book I know I am going to read, I tend to avoid all reviews until AFTER I have read it so I discover the story for myself.

    I have read a number of new-to-me authors based on books reviewed here at Dear Author. And many of those reviews have contained what I would consider minor spoilers, but not anything that truly “spoiled” the book for me.

    For what it's worth, I do not consider the names of the hero or heroine of the book to be a spoiler. I hate love triangles and have been caught unawares by one author in particular who wrote an on-going series into rooting for the “wrong” point of a triangle. Had I known the author was going to write said triangle, I would never have started reading her books. I enjoy reading mysteries and like twists and turns in a story and to be surprised. But when I read a romance, I want to know things will work out in the end for the protagonists. I do not want to read a book, or series of books, thinking I will be getting a HEA for one couple only for the author to pull a bait-and-switch and stick the hero with some other woman and the heroine with another guy or kill off one of the h/h characters.

    So though I am much more reluctant to start an ongoing series by a new author who isn't firmly in the romance camp nowadays, if I ever did find myself in that situation again (where readers are waiting to see which “team” wins) you can bet I would flip to the end of the book and see if the guy or gal I wanted “won” or not. If not, I simply would not buy the book. I understand why authors want to drum up continuing interest in a series. But I do not understand the desire to pit one half of their readership against the other half with these love triangle situations. Seems to me half your audience just ends up mad or disappointed. And though they may not all quit, many do stop reading your books because they feel they cannot trust you as an author.

    A spoiler to me is a major plot point or twist in the story. If the book is in the suspense category, naming the killer or all of his/her victims I would consider a spoiler. Or as Gina said, those things which, once known, change the perception of what has happened. But I am fine with even those in a review, so long as they are clearly labeled so the reader has a choice as to rather or not they continue reading the review (or click or highlight the text to reveal the spoiler).

    I would much rather read a review that has spoilers and discusses the plot and characters than an “OMG this is the best book ever” type of review that doesn't really tell me anything about the book. The former type has convinced me to try out new authors and sub-genres I would not have if I had not read the review. The latter never has.

  4. Shana
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 05:38:37

    PW isn’t writing reviews for readers. They are writing for people who buy books for other people — bookstores and librarians. Avoiding spoilers isn’t a criterion. It’s giving a feel for what sort of book it is, and how well done it is of its kind.

    As a librarian, I read PW, Library Journal, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews every month. The question isn’t will _I_ like this book — it’s will our patrons want to read it. (And if money is tight, what is essential and what would be nice to have in the collection.)

  5. SandyO
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 05:52:44

    I usually don’t care if there is spoilers, I tend to read the end of books (not as much with romances because I know there will be a HEA). But I remember a few years ago, when another site reviewed Laura Kinsale’s Shadowheart. The review was printed before the book was released and it contained specific details of what was the more “controversially” elements of the book. Those elements didn’t bother me, but I will always be a bit resentful that I did not get to discover them myself but rather was spoiled by, what I consider, a bad reviewer.

  6. GrowlyCub
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 05:56:16

    @library addict:

    Yup, I haven’t bought a book by Brockmann since then either.

    Not only because she pulled that bait and switch but because she claimed that it was meant to be that way from the start and that readers who didn’t see that were idiots. I don’t give money to folks who disrespect me, for books or other products.

    I voted ‘No’ because for me a book is a journey of discovery and if I know the major twists and turns before going in, the emotional impact will be reduced and the book a flat reading experience.

    However, there are some things I want to know so I can avoid reading a book: infidelity by either partner once the h/h have been established as a couple makes me physically ill, so while that would be a major spoiler, I’d rather know so I can decide not to read the book. That’s one of my absolutely visceral reactions that can upset me for days or weeks after.

    Also, I’ve been complaining for days on Twitter about a book I recently read in which the cop hero is found out to be the totally gruesome serial killer, who guts his victims, by the cop heroine who’s also his submissive – in the last two paragraphs of the book. Revealing this twist would have been a major spoiler, but I sure wish *some*body had clued me in because this reading experience really disturbed me (my poor twitter friends can attest that, I haven’t been able to shut up about this for days).

    I’ve seen a couple of reviews on DA that I felt were spoiler-heavy, but those were all for books I had already read, so it didn’t bother me there, but if I had not, I think I would have been upset.

    I also try not to read any reviews of books I anticipate reading, because I don’t want to be prejudiced going in, but that also means that I miss out on interesting discussions when they happen.

    While some reviews (not only on DA) have actually made me buy books by authors I hadn’t read before, having read those same reviews also made some of these books less of a totally engaging read.

    In sum, I really don’t know what the solution is. :)

  7. Ros
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 05:59:43

    Oh, interesting question. I am generally all in favour of spoilers. All my favourite books are those I read and reread over and over again, because I’m not reading to find out what happens. I’m reading because I want to spend time with these characters in this world. And especially with respect to romance, I’m reading for comfort, familiarity and the security of a HEA. So I want to know in advance if there’s going to be something that will spoil my enjoyment (‘romantic’ rape scenes, for instance). I’ll often read the end of a book before the beginning simply in order to increase my enjoyment in the actual process of reading, rather than feeling like I need to race through it to find out what happens. Plot is the least important part of a book for me.

    BUT… your example of The Spymaster’s Lady is a good one. There are occasionally twists in a book that really do need to be a surprise to work. Heyer’s The Masqueraders is another one, I think, which could easily be spoiled (though the secret does come out pretty early on in the book).

    Also, I want to take issue with Amy over ‘why a reviewer would ruin a book that they are recommending and for some spoilers can lead to a lot of ruination.’ I think there is a BIG difference between a review and a recommendation. If you’re just looking for recommendations of things to read, I’m not sure you should be reading reviews. When I come to Dear Author, I’m looking for real reviews, that assess the strengths and weaknesses of a book. Yes, there are books I’ve read on the strength of the reviews here, but there are also books and authors I’ve struck off my list. And the reviews I enjoy the most are the ones for books I’ve already read, so that I can see them from a different perspective. It would be a real shame if the reviews became more coy about revealing what’s actually in the book.

  8. Jennifer Estep
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 06:15:23

    I don’t mind spoilers. Most of the time, I like getting a little sneak peak at what’s coming up in a book or on my favorite TV shows. And sometimes, I think they’re necessary to give an accurate review of a book/movie/whatever.

    Like some other folks mentioned above, the only thing that I would draw the line at spoiling would be a huge, clever twist at the end, like The Sixth Sense. If the whole point of a book/movie is to do something shocking at the very end and turn the whole story on its head, then I’d rather discover that for myself.

    But other than that, spoil away!

  9. Jorrie Spencer
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 06:22:29

    I’m not much of a rereader, so I prefer to go in without spoilers. Like some others, I’ll avoid all reviews if I think it’s likely I will read a book.

    Otoh, it’s true that for a review to persuade me to try a book that I previously wasn’t interested in or aware of, there needs to some specifics that capture my interest. And some of those are likely to run into spoiler territory.

    But I already figure if I’m reading a review that I may be spoiled at least to some degree for a book. Sometimes, if a review has convinced me halfway through it, I’ll skip reading the rest of it.

    I actually think DA does a good job of balancing writing effective reviews with specifics and avoiding major book spoilers. Plus you often have warnings within the body of the review.

  10. Selene
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 06:25:14

    It depends. If it’s an author I love, or a book I plan to buy, I don’t read reviews until I’ve read the book, simply because I don’t want to risk any spoilers. In these cases, I consider even the blurb of the book to be a spoiler, and I think it would be extremely hard to write a review without even giving anything of the plot away. One might speak of the writing, characterizations, worldbuilding and so forth, I suppose, but it will likely not be of interest to anyone who hasn’t already decided to read the novel.

    When the above case doesn’t apply, I use reviews to try to determine if the book will be to my taste. It’s often very hard (if not impossible) to judge this without some spoilers. Often a negative reivew might point out aspects of the novel the reviewer didn’t like, but by using direct examples (spoilers), I know it’s something for me. And vice versa, of course.

    On the flip side, sometimes a review will summarize a novel to such an extent that it’ll feel like there’s no point in reading the book itself. After all, we all know how it’s going to end…


  11. Jane Lovering
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 06:37:33

    DA reviewed my book ‘Slightly Foxed’, and Jane was extremely careful, to the extent of answering a commenter’s question with warnings and SPOILER markers, for which I was grateful. As an author you don’t want your careful set-up ruined by a throw-away remark, but you do want readers to have enough information to, hopefully, want to buy the book.

    So I say, trust the reviewer’s judgement. If they think it’s necessary to give a spoiler in order to whet appetites then we should let them do it. After all, as Library addict says, no-one has to read reviews of a book they may fear will be spoiled.

  12. Maria Zannini
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 06:38:54

    I prefer spoilers. Because it’s not about the ending, it’s about the journey.

    Tell me what happens. And I’ll be the judge on how well the author made it happen.

  13. Aoife
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:06:54

    The bottom line is that what constitutes a spoiler is so fluid I’m not sure there’s ever going to be much agreement about it. I’ve read a couple of reviews recently that were labelled as being spoiler-free that really weren’t, not that I was bothered by it. Personally, I like spoilers, since I’ve read so many books over so many years that the element of surprise is mostly gone for me anyway, and there are certain plot points that will make me stop reading a book or series. As long as a reviewer gives advance warning that spoilers are ahead, I think s/he’s done her job.

    And, like Jane, one of the first things I’ll do when Mockingjay comes out is find out what happens with the Gale/Peeta/Katniss triangle, except I’m firmly on Team Peeta. I hate triangles, and am going to be pretty upset if this one doesn’t end the way I want it to.

  14. Terri
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:10:37

    Spoilers: Just. No.

    Reviews can and should be written without them.

    Telling us everything that happens is not a review. It’s a recap.

    When I pick up a romance, I already know there’s going to be a HEA. I don’t want a reviewer telling me how the h/h go from Point A to Point Z. That’s what the joy of reading the book is all about.
    With a review, I just want to know whether the book is one that will hook me in, captivate me, take me on a sensational roller coaster ride or a sedate jog around the park– or whether it will make me howl with unintentional laughter because it is screamingly ridiculous.
    I want to know if the author executed well, wrenching your emotions, making you cry or smile or sigh, whether the author introduced plot twists you didn’t see coming (but not what they were) or whether the clunky writing, plot holes, unnatural dialogue and absurd coincidences made you want to heave…the book against a wall.
    If it’s a good one, please just say so. Don’t ruin it for me.

  15. Ros
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:18:57

    @Terri: Having said earlier that I think there’s a big difference between a review and a recommendation, I also think you’re right to point out that there’s a difference between a review and a recap. I’ve seen some review blogs which literally just summarise the story and then maybe have one sentence at the end with the reviewer’s opinion of the book. I cannot see the point of these at all. I especially can’t see the point when every book is given a rating of 4 or 5 stars, or a grade of A or A-. I like reviewers to differentiate between good and bad writing, good and bad characterisation, good and bad plotting. I want to know what they really thought of the book.

  16. CourtneyLee
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:27:51

    Like others, I tend not to read reviews of a book I know I’m going to read until after I read it. I also know if a reveiwer is prone to spoilers, so I may avoid that reviewer while reading a different reviewer whom I know won’t give away anything big. In general, I abhor spoilers. I like the entire journey to the ending to be a surprise. However, my definition of a spoiler is kind of complicated.

    –If I can reasonably guess it, it’s not really a spoiler. Telling me that Bella’s kidnapper in Lover Avenged ends up dead wasn’t a spoiler, but even hinting about how it happened would have been a spoiler for me.

    –If it’s in the last half of the book, it’s probably a spoiler. The exception is inevitable endings, like HEAs and the fact that a mystery will be solved. Just don’t tell me how. And things I can guess, of course.

    –Knowing about little things that may not relate to the plot but are thrilling to discover nonetheless spoils my fun. I think reviewers have to walk a fine line between revealing things like this to entice a reader and preserving a reader’s discovery of a cool world. I read reviews of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series that took some of the fun out of reading them (but not all, which was fortunate).

    But all bets are off for bad reviews, especially if the review is entertaining itself (and may end up more entertaining than the book), like Nonny’s reviews at STBT, SB Candy’s revew of Shayla Blacks’s Decadent, and any DNF here at DA. Spoiler warnings are always appreciated, though.

  17. Mireya
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:35:53

    At a personal level, I don’t mind. I like to know about potential red buttons i.e. is there a cliffhanger ending, is there infidelity, is the book too “light” on the romantic element, etc. As co-owner of a reviews newsletter, however, I teach my reviewers to steer clear of spoilers. I have received complaints on the matter from both authors and readers, some justified some not so much. I do tell my reviewers that if there is something that bothers them, they should spell it out, but keeping a balance i.e. if there is infidelity, it should be mentioned without giving too much away, or if the book has a sex scene that may be particularly offensive to some, it should be mentioned without specifically describing the scene. Not an easy thing to do a lot of the times, though we figured out a way that helps us stay on the safe side of that fence most times.

  18. Jaci Burton
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:40:59

    No on spoilers for me. When I read a book I want the story to be fresh and new to me, no matter the genre. What’s the point of reading the book if you already know what’s going to happen? And if it’s a book I’m really looking forward to reading I will avoid all reviews about the book until I’ve had a chance to read it. I generally read DA’s reviews but your reviews here are so detailed I know I can’t read a review about a book I intend to read until after I’ve read the book.

    I’m the same way with movies I want to see, especially suspense movies. I have to practically avoid the internet altogether and run to the movie theater when the movie releases before people start spoiling the ending. Gah.

  19. Christine Rimmer
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:41:36

    Spoilers are totally fine with me. I always read the end–even in mysteries and thrillers–first. I appreciate spoiler alerts, though. So I can make a choice if I really want to be surprised.

    Interestingly, in series romance, the packaging is all about delivering the hooks to the readers who love them. And hooks are often spoilers. The title says if she will be pregnant at some point, if there will be a marriage of convenience, just lays it right out there, even if the pregnancy or the MOC doesn’t happen until the third quarter of the book. And what’s not in the title is in the back cover copy. So if I don’t want them to “spoil” something, I tell them in my cover art suggestions. If it’s not what they consider an active hook–or if I already have enough hooks for them–they might just leave that spoiler out of the packaging.

  20. Terry Odell
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:44:10

    I’m in the ‘don’t tell me anything’ camp. A good log line type teaser is usually enough. Back cover copy. Maybe the glimpse of the first chapter in the next book at the end of the first. But I don’t even like traditional suspense where I can see what’s going to happen because I’m taken to the villain’s POV.

    Maybe it’s because I love a mystery, and I think it’s ruined if there are any giveaway clues ahead of time. I’ve read reviews that have authors in tears because the reviewer revealed the major plot twist.

  21. Sandy (strlady)
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:50:08

    I know what you mean when it comes to identifying what a spoiler is. I used to think that a spoiler was revealing the ending of the story but after so many reviews and so many books I realize that not all spoilers are alike.

    Best example of this is an incident that takes place at the begining of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen of Attolia book. The main character has a life changing event that really is what moves the book in the direction it does. Do I comment on the actual event because it takes place at the begining of the book? The thing is that it’s so shocking that I feel it would really spoil the emotion the author was after. Since then I really think before commenting on major plot points regardless of where they lie in the book.

  22. Sandy James
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:50:19

    I dislike spoilers with one major exception — if there is something really important that ruins the book for a reviewer, I can see why she might reveal that to spare a potential reader from having to put another dent in her wall. I’ve read a few books that left me thinking, “What the hell?” And do I ever wish some reviewer had “spoiled” them for me before I wasted my time.

  23. katiebabs
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:51:36

    If there is going to be a spoiler I want to have a warning.

    A big spoiler I could have written in my review for Gail Carriger’s Changeless would have ruined the whole book, even though Orbit decided to post the blurb for the third book, before Changeless was released.

    I look at books reviews as movie reviews. Can you imagine how many people would have freaked out if a movie reviewer told the truth about Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense?

  24. Jessica Andersen
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:54:21

    Hm. I’ve been known to go online looking for spoilers for my favorite shows (Bones, BSG), but can’t remember every seeking out a book spoiler.

    The one time I flipped ahead to the last page of a book (Dragonfly in Amber), I didn’t buy the book because I was so heartbroken that it wasn’t an HEA (this was before I really grokked the idea of a series).

    So I guess as a reader I’m not really a spoiler person.

    As an author, I’ve had to learn to be careful when talking about my books– my knee-jerk reaction is to answer all questions honestly and fully … which isn’t always a good idea when I’m at least one, sometimes two books ahead of my fans! It only took a couple of times of people yelling ‘AAAAH! Spoiler!’ for me to figure that one out- LOL.

    As to what I consider a spoiler? I’m with the above posters (and Jane) that the h/H and HEA aren’t spoilers, but the Sixth Sense-like plot twists are.

  25. Terri
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 07:56:50

    Something else to consider. Those who don’t mind spoilers, just don’t mind them. They probably would not notice if reviews did not contain them. No one would shake her head and say, “Wow. That review didn’t spoil the book enough for me.” But those who dislike spoilers tend to dislike them intensely. And might avoid places spoilers congregate.
    Just sayin’

  26. DianeN
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 08:06:30

    I think there are spoilers and then there are Big Giant Spoilers. I’m okay with the small stuff (“Yes, Charles, I AM your sister’s former college roommate!”) but would prefer not to encounter anything larger. (“Yes, Charles, I stole the plans of the secret weapon you designed because I am an agent for the forces of Good and you are unwittingly working for the forces of Evil even though for the whole book it looked like I was the villainess! And also, I’m carrying your secret child!”) (Oh, wait, the secret child would be in the title, wouldn’t it???) A thoughtful reviewer should note the distinction and not reveal the Big Giant Spoiler!!

  27. Kate McMurray
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 08:19:06

    I like some plot summary in reviews, and I do like to be forewarned if a book contains tropes or themes I dislike, but I don’t want to be spoiled. I’d consider a spoiler to be a big plot twist or the resolution of a whodunnit or anything that would shade how I read the book (i.e., if I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, like I know in advance that a major character is going to die and then I spend the whole book holding my breath, waiting for it).

    Although, rereading books is an interesting point. I do reread, and mostly for my favorite parts, so of course I know what happens, and for books I really like, it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. Of course, a really good book can stand up to multiple rereadings and still be good every time. And I read a lot of mysteries, so sometimes it’s fun to go back and see all the clues I missed the first time through. But I like puzzling out mysteries on my own first, so I’d prefer not to know the outcome until I read it myself. (I never peak at endings, something made even easier to resist since I got an ereader. :-D)

  28. Sandy James
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 08:33:05


    Can you imagine how many people would have freaked out if a movie reviewer told the truth about Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense?

    Good point. However, I remember several reviews of that movie pointing out there was a huge twist. They politely didn’t mention exactly what the twist was, but that kind of “spoiler” changed the movie from something I was thinking about seeing to something I “had” to see because I love twists. With all the book plotting I’ve done, it’s rare a twist surprises me (which has ruined a lot of books and movies for me!), and to know the twist was such a surprise to reviewers made it ever so much more appealing.

  29. LVLM
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 08:52:56

    Like others, I usually don’t read reviews of books I know I’m going to read.

    But other books that I’m on the fence about I go looking for more information in reviews.

    Like “The Blond Samurai” for instance. I’ve lived in Japan and studied the language and culture so I’m pretty particular when it comes to reading about anything set in Japan by someone who isn’t Japanese. I read a few reviews of that book and saw that my fears that the Japanese culture representation was stereotypical and not that realistic. I don’t want to read that so I didn’t buy the book.

    In mystery/ suspense of course there are more plot twists than in contemporary romance so it’s clearer what a spoiler is.

    I write reviews and I discovered that I tend to be more spoilerish with books I disliked and or books that really affected me. I like talk about the characters and their psychological motivations and such and get rather chatty. Heh. Character motivation is a biggy for me and I like to know that I’m not going to read a TSTL, or a one dimensional character type.

    I also review in a specific genre, f/f, for a specific crowd of readers and I do express plot points or actions that I know will push those readers’ buttons.

    It really is a fine line what a spoiler is. But I guess if you’re not the type to like any spoilers it’s best not to read any reviews then because basically all reviews are spoilers in a way unless you just say “I liked this” “I hated this.”

  30. Aoife
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:00:24

    @Terri Well, it’s a fine line. Aside from the obvious problem that one person’s spoiler is no big deal for someone else, review sites that are very concerned with never giving away spoilers are ones that I tend not to frequent. Especially if we are talking about Romance, the reviews can be so vague that really, what’s the point?

  31. Moriah Jovan
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:17:05

    I almost never read reviews, period. Reading a review makes me feel like I’ve pretty much read the book, so why bother?

    That said, I am an inveterate back-of-the-book opener. What’s fun for me is to see how DIFFERENT it reads to me when I haven’t read the book versus after I have. 9 times out of 10, throughout the course of the book, it’s like I never read it.

  32. LizA
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:18:08

    I think it totally depends on what kind of spoiler it is. I did not give away the ending of Harry Potter when I reviewed it for my local newspaper because I felt that people would enjoy finding it out themselves. On the other hand, I do want to know about certain things that might come up – mainly hot button topics like rape and the like, which help me to decide if I want to read the book at all.

  33. dick
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:19:26

    Like a poster above, I don’t read reviews until I’ve read the book, so spoilers are never spoilers for me. I prefer not to be influenced by others’ opinions of books. Neither do I read endings until I get to them by the usual route. How can one know whether the ending–even an hea–is good or bad before reading what prepared for it?

  34. evie byrne
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:23:34

    I prefer to be surprised as a reader. The less I know, the better. Reading ahead, or omg!, reading the last pages first, is unthinkable to me.

    However, I voted yes to spoilers. This is because I enjoy reading reviews most after I’ve read the book, when I’m all wound up and eager to compare impressions. It’s no fun to do that if the reviewer can’t talk about any of the good stuff.

    Of course it’s always good policy to announce upcoming spoilers, but I do believe a reviewer should be able to go into Spoilerland if that information is necessary to get to the heart of the review.

  35. Lori
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:24:41

    Oh I love me some spoilers.

    I read generally for the joy of words and the journey, so you can tell me that Mr. X is evil and Mr. Z has a hump on his back but if the author is good, then the words s/he writes will be so fresh and compelling, foreknowledge will be nothing.

  36. Bianca
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:42:23

    @Aoife: I agree completely. :)

    I don’t like to be spoiled big time, but without at least a cursory identification of what the novel is about – themes, characterizations, tropes used, potential warnings (rape, infidelity, etc.), setting… It’s just a vague personal opinion.

  37. RebeccaJ
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:56:10

    I love spoilers in my soap operas but when I’m paying for a book, I like to know generally what it’s about, but not too much in depth.

  38. Darlynne
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 09:58:22

    Never, never, never. The spoiler-free zone around me is wide and uncrossable, punishable by, well, I’ll think of something horrid.

    Two words: Harriet Klausner

    A few more words: Don’t rob me of the journey, don’t ruin MY reading experience, don’t so cavalierly dismiss the author’s hard work. Tell me beforehand–and I mean clearly–if spoilers are contained in your review so I can avoid them.

    What is a spoiler: Any revelation of a plot twist or character development that significantly changes the current or expected trajectory of the story, or that completely alters everything that came before.


    ETA: By no means is this rant directed at DA. I wish all reviewers and review sites were as thoughtful as the people here.

  39. Mirmie
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:05:28

    I’m a self-admitted “Spoiler Slut” – that being said, I do think there’s a vast difference between including a spoiler (with advance warning) and completely giving away the plot of the story. It doesn’t bother me even a little bit to get added insight for a story…I consider it a kind of “Preview” not unlike those for our favorite TV shows. I can understand those who want to be completely surprised – but I do think that, if a warning is provided upfront for an upcoming release, its that reader’s own fault if by continuing on, their surprise bubble is burst.

  40. Ridley
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:18:38

    I detest spoilers and agree that “Telling us everything that happens is not a review. It's a recap.”

    Spoilers are details that change the emotions the story is supposed to draw from you while you’re reading.

    Knowing what happens to Evan in If I’d Never Known Your Love would have robbed me of what was an intense sob session. Knowing whodunnit sucks the surprise out of a suspense, and also deprives me of the fun of guessing along with the book. Knowing how a deathly ill hero/heroine gets his/her HEA – cuz it’s romance, knowing there’s an HEA is not a spoiler, it’s implied – kills the worry and dread you’re supposed to feel on their behalf.

    If it’s a book you wish you could read again for the first time, then it’s a book that a spoiler review can ruin for readers.

    Pointing out themes or tropes is not generally a spoiler. And, really, anyone with half a brain can hint at things without giving them away. Say a character is a surprise vampire near the end of the book. You want to let people know it’s got vampires, but you don’t want to pop the surprise balloon, so you say it’s a paranormal, and you say no more.

    DA is good at not spoiling books, even when commenters beg for it like on the If I’d Never Known Your Love review, and thank you for that. I buy books based off reviews but I want that virgin reading experience too.

  41. Marianne McA
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:22:28

    I’m an avoider – the less I know the better. Don’t read excerpts, reviews or blurbs for books I know I’ll read.

    I was pissed off that I couldn’t be surprised by Brockmann’s twist – not that anyone said, if you avoided spoiler threads, but there were so many ‘What if two characters in a long running series didn’t get together?’ discussions combined with affronted ‘I’m never going to read Brockmann again’ posts, that it was impossible not to guess. (With the last Harry Potter, I just stayed off the internet for several days before the publication date – I thought spoilers were inevitable.)

    Spoilers in book discussions are fine: a discussion is different.
    I suppose, as an avoider, I would rather reviewers said next to nothing – though I realise they can’t. I enjoy working out what I think will happen, and I especially enjoy the moment when when an author surprises or wrongfoots me. (I reread all the time – I don’t mind, in that case, knowing what happens.)

  42. KMont
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:26:52


    I did not know this! Good to know, so thank you. BUT – would be better then if places like Amazon didn’t post them, as I have read some that were nothing but spoilers. I am for spoilers, but prefer a warning prior.

  43. Lynn
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:36:23

    Some spoilers I want. Some I don’t. I want some integral information that will compel me to buy the book in the first place instead of the classic “What will happen to Lord X and Lady Y” fluff you see so much. The blurbs aren’t even catchy enough for me to buy it most of the time on Amazon.

    What I don’t like is the Amazon reviewer revealing the the ‘who done it’ and why they did it without warning me FIRST. That I’d rather skip along with them outlining the whole book for me!

    Amazon’s book descriptions usually suck most of the time. It’s more or less “Best Selling author Z has put out another stellar romance novel that will mezmorize the crap out of you. This is her 305th book just this month alone and she still has the ability to captivate her audience”. (rolling eyes). “What is Lord X hiding from the world? Read and find out and truly be captivated once again that only this author can do for you”. Save the fluff and give me more info.

    Here is one example where I needed a spoiler to help me buy some books. I was looking for some books that had either the H/h portrayed as being blind. I kept digging at other websites for that particular genre list and finally got some good recs.

    A lot of these type of books have cop outs that I was trying to avoid. Like someone getting smacked over the head at the end of the book restoring their eyesight…groan. No cop outs with the recs I found.

    WARN me of spoilers in the beginning of the review just as DA does, and I’ll decide whether or not I want to read on. THEN I’ll decide whether or not I want to buy the book.

    Spoil me rotten but warn me first.

  44. Vicky Dreiling
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:55:00


    I found this post especially interesting as I recently thought how hard it would be for a reviewer not to give away the secret in my debut book coming out in Jan 2011. I’d thought readers would guess in advance, & savvy ones likely will, but my daughter (who is in college)gasped when she reached that plot point. And it is a pivotal scene. I imagine it’s easier with some books than others to avoid spoilers. As a reader, I always appreciate it when the reviewer gives a spoiler warning. Great topic!

  45. Susan/DC
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 11:01:40

    Something else to consider. Those who don't mind spoilers, just don't mind them. They probably would not notice if reviews did not contain them. No one would shake her head and say, “Wow. That review didn't spoil the book enough for me.” But those who dislike spoilers tend to dislike them intensely. And might avoid places spoilers congregate.
    Just sayin'

    ITA. I want to have the choice of whether or not I want a spoiler. There are big ones, like the ending of “The Sixth Sense” or “The Crying Game”, but sometimes even smaller ones, like a plot twist in “Possession”, that can reduce my enjoyment if I know them beforehand. If I want to know the ending first, I want it to be my option, not sometime spilling the beans in a review. Surely it’s possible to discuss how successful the author was at characterization or plot or imagery without giving away the book’s secrets. It’s one reason I very, very rarely read Amazon reviews. At least at DA or the other review sites I do go to, they give spoiler warnings.

    And I do a lot of rereading, but part of my enjoyment is remembering how I felt when the journey was new to me.

  46. Lexie C.
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 11:12:37

    I don’t mind one way or the other–I mean I was spoiled for the Breaking Dawn Reneesme thing weeks before I read it, and recently I read the blurb for Gail Carriger’s Book 3:Blameless and haven’t read Book 2: Changeless yet and that significantly spoiled me for something that happens.

    Its kind of more interesting to get to the end result for me.

    On the other hand in my reviews I try to keep BIG spoilers–like death of a MC, sudden loyalty switching in relationships, Major World Building Changes–out of my reviews. I’ll vaguely reference them, if I have an issue with how its handled (something like “In the end, the change in Mary Main Character’s life didn’t ring true for me. It felt rushed and underdeveloped or supported”.).

    Also I assume if I put ‘romance’ in the genre section, no one should be surprised if I talk about the main characters’ romance even if the blurb says “And they hate each other on sight and forevermore”. How many true romance books have ever ended with the MC’s getting together at the end? Even if its part of a series (like Dawn Aldridge Poore’s Regency Miss Sydney Mystery series she did for Zebra), if the Hero/Heroine stay the same throughout it shouldn’t be a surprise.

    I think the funniest moment was I came across a Jane Austen Sequels board and there was a 10 page long thread about people who hate Jane Austen Sequels because they ‘ruin the ending of Austen’s books’. One such commenter said that she had no idea Darcy and Elizabeth got together and was displeased when a sequel book referred to them as married in the blurb.

  47. Claudia Dain
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 11:24:53

    I’m in the no spoiler camp.

    I think it’s interesting that there’s this chasm we can’t bridge in what we want out of a reading experience, and that includes the experience of reading a review. For me, I already almost know too much in that I know there will be a HEA. That’s =all= I need to know, that and the setting or subgenre. After that, let me loose! Let me dive into the story and be surprised by everything.

    A book is a page-turner for me when I’m desperate to find out what happens next. If I know too much, no matter how good the book is, how well-written, how charming the characters, I just lose interest. The fire to get to the end of the story has been burned out by a too-detailed review. I already know the story. Why bother reading it “again”?

    I do think that this is something unchangeable, buried deep within us. There’s no changing how you want to experience a story, or how much information is too much.

  48. Ros
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 11:26:51

    @Lexie C.: LOL at the Austen Sequel Spoiler!! I definitely think that there is a statute of limitations on spoilers. If you haven’t got round to reading Pride and Prejudice yet, then just read it. Don’t hang out on discussion boards first.

    I was thinking about this some more and I think, in some ways, seeing a film or TV adaptation is like one huge spoiler for reading the book. And yet for me, seeing an adaptation has often been a catalyst for wanting to read the book. Having the story in my head and having got to know the characters enough to know I care about them is a great motivation to want to read books that otherwise I might not have bothered with. I’d never have The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, for instance, if I hadn’t seen the fabulous TV adaptation of it. But now I totally love the book – which is so much richer and deeper and better than the adaptation, and the reading experience is necessarily different than seeing. So I guess I really am unspoilable.

  49. Jill Sorenson
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 11:26:55

    I’m anti-spoiler, I guess. I’ve never flipped to the back of the book to read the ending, that’s for sure! I don’t want to know every detail, and I like being surprised by plot twists.

    I read many, many more reviews than books. I want to know what’s out there, which types of characters/stories are resonating with readers. I couldn’t possibly buy or read every book that strikes my fancy. It’s a problem, LOL. If I’m eagerly anticipating a book, I might avoid reviews altogether.


    I don’t know if I’m still on Team Gale after Catching Fire, but I can’t imagine reading ahead in Mockingjay. How do you know you’ll be disappointed with Katniss’s decision (if she doesn’t choose Gale) before you read the steps she took to get there?

    I think this is an interesting part of the reader-author relationship. I want to trust the author, and give her a fair shot at winning me over. For me, that means avoiding spoilers and not reading ahead.

  50. Castiron
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 11:43:56

    I’m fine with reviews including spoilers as long as there’s a warning. I don’t mind being spoiled about something that I wasn’t planning to read or watch anyway (and sometimes even something that I was planning to read/watch), but spoilage should be a consensual activity. Make it clear that there’s spoilers; give the reader a chance to turn away if they want to stay unspoilt. Use font color changes or rot-13 to conceal really big stuff.

    The issue of spoilers in older works is a tough one. On the one hand, if the work has permeated the culture, it’s reasonable to assume that people’ve probably picked up the spoiler through osmosis (“I am your father.”). On the other hand, someone’s first time with a story is their first time whether the book was published yesterday or in 1812. If I were reviewing, say, Agatha Christie’s THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, an 84-year-old book, I’d be comfortable saying that there’s an interesting twist that was extremely innovative at the time, but not what the twist is. (Read the Wikipedia entry if you want to spoil it for yourself.)

  51. Aoife
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 12:27:53

    Just in reading through all these responses it seems to me that the people who don’t mind “spoilers,” however those are defined–and it’s pretty clear that even people who claim not to like them aren’t in agreement on what constitutes one–may have slightly different expectations from reading than those whose reading experience is ruined by them. I am very seldom surprised by what I read, and, fortunately, my reading experience isn’t tied to surprise. To use examples that have been brought up previously, I figured out the plot twist in The Sixth Sense fairly early on, and was mildly surprised that my husband hadn’t, although it seemed to me there had been plenty of clues. My husband reads, and watches movies, in what I would call a passive mode: he’s along for the ride, and isn’t actively thinking much ahead of where the author/screenwriter is taking him. He also never re-reads, whereas the more I love a book, the more likely I am to read it multiple times, gathering new layers of meaning every time.

    So far as Mockingjay goes, Collins has expended a lot of ink making me care about the characters. If she is setting Peeta up to be, oh, I don’t know, dead, or secretly working for President Snow, or some other variation that makes a mockery of the way she’s portrayed him so far, then I’d like to know up front.

    I will also add that I’m a little amused by the faintest wisp of moral indignation expressed in some of the anti-spoiler-I’d-never-dream-of-reading-the-ending posts. Yup, reading the ending, a sure sign of moral turpitude!

  52. Angelia Sparrow
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 12:52:49

    There’s a book? Dang, now you’ve gone and spoiled the whole thing!

    My definition of spoiler: if you tell me enough that I have no need to read the book, I am spoiled on that book.

    For example, THE NOTEBOOK movie trailer was pretty good. I was sold on seeing it. Then, they told me the punchline. Now I don’t need to see it.

    With romance, I know how it comes out: HEA/HFN I know our H/H will be alive and together. Let me take the trip myself.

    Tell me the general plot, usually off the back of the book: He’s an undercover British sorcerer with a bowler hat and umbrella. She’s a Greek ninja secretary. They get dumped in the Caribbean to fight pirates by time traveling aliens, only to learn a desperate secret that forces them to overthrow Henry Morgan’s governorship.

    That’s plenty. It hits the high points. It gives me an idea of what I’m getting into.

    For the review part:
    Tell me what you like about our sorcerer and secretary. Tell me how their chemistry was. Tell me how well the time travel element was handled. Do NOT tell me the secret. Tell me how the dialogue works or doesn’t. Tell me if the sex scenes work. Warn me if the author uses unusual euphemisms, including “I gotta go to the euphemism!” (obscure Dr. Seuss joke)

    Also, if a work is over 20 years old, it can’t be spoiled.

  53. Jane Lovering
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 12:53:02

    I often peek at the end. I use the justification that were I to die before I finished the book, at least I’d go knowing how it ended!

  54. Anion
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 13:08:23

    Funny that this topic comes up now, because I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I’m happy to have spoilers as long as they’re minor ones.

    I had a release a couple of months ago now, and the reviews have been pretty good overall. But a few of them have been spoilery. Well, I should say that a few of them have been spoilery about the wrong thing. A plot twist that I carefully built and nurtured over the course of several books, so it would be one of those things the reader knew all along but, like the MC, had simply never thought of before. I was really excited about that little twist.

    But of course it’s been spoiled. By almost every reviewer. And it’s disappointing. The response to the twist has been gratifying, and it seems to have brought out all of the feelings and thoughts I was hoping it would, but it’s still a little disheartening to think of readers who aren’t getting the “Ohh, of COURSE!!” response that I’d so carefully planned for them and hoped they would have. I think it would have been entirely possible for reviewers to mention the plot events without actually spoiling the reason for them. And that makes me sad.

    But that to me is a major thing. Minor things, I don’t worry about spoiling/spoilers. For my next book I have one big thing–the identity of the bad guy–that I would hope nobody spoils that. The other stuff? Not so worried.

    Because I do think spoilers can entice readers. If I read a review that mentions a plot or story element that just sounds so cool, it makes me a lot more likely to buy the book.

    But try not to give away the Big Stuff, you know? Imagine how lame it would have been if what greeted “Luke, I am your father” had been just silence, because everybody already knew? Some plot elements should be kept a surprise, because you really are literally spoiling the experience for others, and I hate that.

  55. Lindsay
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 13:37:09

    I like spoilers. I’ve been known to actively seek them out, particularly if I’m concerned that an author is going to take a book in a direction that will turn me right off. Of course, I don’t read suspense or mystery at all, and I would assume that those are the genres where a spoiler is more likely to ruin a story for someone.

    To be a bit controversial, I sometimes feel that some of the anti-spoiler crowd (not necessarily those on DA) go a bit too far by deeming any detail at all that is revealed to be a spoiler. Revealing the heroine’s dark secret is a spoiler, telling us she had jam and scones for tea in the 5th chapter is not.

    And then there are the things so obvious that I don’t see how anyone could consider them spoilers (eg. Voldemort loses).

  56. Elyssa Papa
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 13:44:12

    I love spoilers…I always want to know what’s happened. I am more disappointed if a reviewer doesn’t give me the 411 so I can prepare myself, especially if it’s bad.

    And, Jane, I worry that Gage will die. It doesn’t bode well that Katniss and Gage are on that ship thing at end of Catching Fire. I also worry about Peeta’s fate and Kat’s mom and sis.

  57. MaryK
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 14:12:46

    For some reason, it thinks I have already voted. O_O

    At least it voted for me correctly. Yes, for big issues, I must have spoilers.

    My reading career started with mysteries and gothics, and somewhere along the line I got tired of thinking I was reading a gothic romance only for it to turn into a gothic thriller. The difference being mainly HEA vs. no HEA.

    Or reading mysteries with bizarre twists at the ends. I can work up a really good rant about Agatha Christie. Do Not Like her books. I read them like a good mystery reader until I realized I could tell who the killer was within the first couple of chapters based strictly on character development.

    Read first two chapters. Pick most likeable/interesting character. Flip to end. Confirm killer’s identity.

    One time, I came across one with a young sleuthing couple helping out a police detective. I’ll be safe with this one, I thought, the detectives are the most likeable characters.

    The fiance sleuth did it.

    So yeah, I am no longer trusting, even in Romance. If I have suspicions, I must have spoilers.

  58. Claudia Dain
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 14:43:05

    I know we’re not talking about movies, but I also feel that most movie previews give me too much of the story. A bad preview gives me every adorable line, every crucial plot point, deep slices of the characters, and hints strongly at the surprise twist. Then when I see the movie, I’ve already seen all the really great stuff and what’s left is filler. This happens to me all the time. Anyone else?

    IMO, good movie previews give you a taste, a hint, but when you see the movie you’re still surprised (that’s my watch word), there is still something to discover and understand.

    Some previews feel like the movie on fast forward.

  59. DS
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 14:43:13

    I don’t mind spoilers. Sometimes a friend wants to talk about a movie or something she has seen but hesitates because I haven’t seen it. I tell her to talk away. Doesn’t bother me in the least. I try to be equally courteous and avoid telling her things she doesn’t want to know about books or shows.

    However, I am among those who want an SOL on spoilers. I generally think a book that has been talked all over the internet like Anna Campbell’s Claiming the Courtesan doesn’t need a spoiler warning. But I wouldn’t be reviewing the book, I would just be talking about it. Sometimes it is impossible to have a discussion about certain tropes without mentioning where they can be found. And although I appreciate the reviews I actually come here for the discussions more than the reviews.

  60. MaryK
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 15:08:21

    @Terri: I would notice, though, because I actively seek spoiler reviews; and it can be very frustrating when I can’t find a spoiler I’m looking for.

    There was some general book discussion on a yahoo-group that I read, and one of the commenters asked about a particular book – did such and such happen. Another commenter said “I won’t tell you. You need to read it and find out for yourself.”

    How incredibly not useful! If I particularly want a spoiler and can’t find it, I probably won’t read the book.

  61. MaryK
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 15:20:42


    Spoilers are details that change the emotions the story is supposed to draw from you while you're reading.

    That’s probably why I like spoilers. :D

    I hate to be manipulated so if there’s going to be manipulation, I want to know about it.

  62. hapax
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 15:49:11

    @Jane Lovering: ” I use the justification that were I to die before I finished the book, at least I'd go knowing how it ended!”

    And now you’ve unwittingly made me cry, because my mother did have a fatal stroke right in the middle of reading the fifth Harry Potter, and I sat at her bedside for several hours, holding her hand, and pouring the end of the story into her unhearing ears. :-(

    But generally speaking, I NEVER put spoilers in reviews. As Angelia Sparrow put it so beautifully, there’s plenty to talk about in a good review without spoiling plot points. I suppose that labelling a book “romance”, “thriller”, “paranormal”, etc. could technically be a spoiler (because the alert reader knows the accustomed tropes of the genre); but I think it is fair to say, oh, “THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD cleverly subverts the conventions of the traditional detective novel” without saying exactly *how*. Or perhaps “BREAKING DAWN ventures into territory that may well disturb the starry eyes of its dazzled younger fans, and totally confirm the rolling eyes of its more jaded older ones.”

    It isn’t *easy*, mind you. But that’s why I spend hours and hours writing reviews, and expect to get paid for them.

  63. Marianne McA
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 16:21:10

    “Also, if a work is over 20 years old, it can't be spoiled.”

    I disagree, I’m afraid.

    I can think of lots of books that are probably well known – people know what happened to Rebecca, or to Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls, or to Roger Ackroyd – but not every individual reader knows, and I was surprised by all those things when I encountered those books, and could have been spoiled, the way I was spoiled for – say – Murder on the Orient Express.

    There’s always a new generation who haven’t encountered those books already. I’d agree it’d be hard not to know the plot of Romeo and Juliet or Jane Eyre etc. before you read them – but lots of other older books can still be spoiled.

    Also to add – with romance I’d take HEA as a given, not a spoiler. But outside of genre reading, I’d think it is a massive spoiler to give away whether a book ends ‘happily’ or not.

    @Aoife: but it is entirely reprehensible. When I shared a bedroom with my sister, she’d ostentatiously turn straight to the back of whatever book she was reading, and read the end in front of me, just to wind me up. Even in my littlest youth, I knew that was just wrong. (She also repeatedly told me that next year, I’d be as old as her, and that turned out to be wrong as well…)

  64. Keishon
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 16:57:41

    I like spoilers. It’s the only way to get me to a read a book that I wouldn’t have bought otherwise. But it’s a skill to write just enough of them without ruining the book completely. I just ask that you don’t ruin the ending for me or share other pertinent details that readers would enjoy discovering on their own. It’s a balancing act. That’s all.

  65. Jean
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 17:24:10

    Generally I prefer not to read spoilers and I would prefer a reviewer to warn me in advance if they were going to reveal one.

    Sometimes I will go looking for them though because I want to know in advance if something happens that would ruin the story for me, such as the aforementioned bait and switch Brockmann book (hated the twist and didn’t read it) or the book mentioned by GrowlyCub in post #6 – I would REALLY like to have known before I read it that the author decided to throw in a surprise twist on the last page that the hero was the serial killer. This happens after the H/h have their HEA, the heroine knows the hero is the killer and she’s fine with it!!! (I started a discussion in the spoiler forum on the Romantic Times website for this book because I hated the ending so much).

    The ending for A Knight in Shining Armor is also one I wish I had know about in advance. It and other books with similar endings are what makes me check the ending to time travel books before I buy them now.

    So usually only information that would ruin the book for me – the ending or a plot element I hate (such as the hero raping the heroine) is something I want to know about.

  66. MaryK
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 17:38:40


    or the book mentioned by GrowlyCub in post #6 – I would REALLY like to have known before I read it that the author decided to throw in a surprise twist on the last page that the hero was the serial killer. This happens after the H/h have their HEA, the heroine knows the hero is the killer and she's fine with it!!!

    Seriously? And this is a Romance book? How is it justified?

    Now I want to read a spoiler review of that book so I can know but not have to experience it for myself.

    ETA – Now that I think about it, I have read a hero-as-serial-killer plot that worked in a Romance, but it was a SFRomance with exotic worldbuilding. Interesting.

  67. Anion
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 18:11:17


    Geez!! Even me, who absolutely LOVES unconventional H/Hs and anti-hero/ines, would have a huge issue with that. Unless there was a damn good reason for the killing, that one would hit the wall.

  68. GrowlyCub
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 18:39:10


    From the author’s website:

    “This steamy erotic novella is not for the reader who likes her romance sweet. It depicts politically incorrect situations and fantasies, designed for the woman who isn’t afraid to explore the edgy side of human relationships and sexuality.”

    Call me naive, but ‘edgy’ does not translate victim gutting serial killer hero in a romance with HEA with cop heroine whose one desire was to become a homicide detective. The story was plenty edgy without that. And while she calls it a ‘steamy erotic novella’ she also mentions romance in the next sentence so there was NO indication to me that it would end this way.

    Feel free to email me at GrowlyCub @ if you want author and title.

    Jean, I’ll try to find that discussion, but I’m having trouble navigating the RT site (so cumbersome).

  69. Jean
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 18:41:59

    GrowlyCub – just enter the book title in the search box and you should find it. It’s not a very long discussion though but someone wanted to know what the surprise twist was.

  70. GrowlyCub
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 18:43:32


    Quoting the heroine: ‘You loved your mother.’

    Yes, it’s always been my fantasy to live as a sub with a dom who has killed 4 women and 4 men… sure…

  71. GrowlyCub
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 19:03:42


    It only brings up the 4 1/2 star review and the fact that this was an RT award nominee/recipient. Which part of ‘it’s not romantic if the hero is a serial killer and also tricked/killed his father so he could pin those murders on him’ did RT fail to notice?

    I finally found it by going through the forum. Too bad more people didn’t see this. I’d really like to hear Bruhns’ explanation for this bait and switch.

  72. Aoife
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 19:35:34

    @Marianne McA Yes, that sounds pretty diabolical! At least your older sister didn’t actually read the ending to you.

    I’m just a bit puzzled as to why some of the anti-spoiler, anti-read-ahead contingent care what anyone else does. I don’t care if others dutifully read from page one to page whatever, without ever reading ahead. Why do so many people seem to feel that those of us who like spoilers are cheating? It’s not like anyone is handing out gold stars for those who read “correctly.”

  73. GrowlyCub
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 19:41:17


    It probably has to do with the fact that once a book is ruined that reading experience is forever lost to that reader.

    If you don’t care whether or not there are spoilers, you haven’t lost anything, but if you do and you get spoiled there is a significant loss to that reader.

    For ex, I only knew there was a ‘twist’ in a recent novella, but just knowing that was enough for me to figure out within the first 2 chapters what the twist was. If I had not known I might have really enjoyed the novella, as opposed to finding it rehash, predictable and boring.

    It’s like smoking inside a room. If you don’t mind the smoke one way or the other, no biggie, but if you do or are allergic and you have no choice, you are really being hurt.

    Having said all that, I really think you are interpreting motivations into statements that just aren’t there. I have not seen that ‘moral superiority’ you speak of.

  74. Janine
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 19:57:18

    My rule of thumb when reviewing is to try not to reveal any events that happen after the one-third point in the story.

    When it comes to things like whose POV is given, whether it’s in first person or third person, and even whether there is a happy ending, I don’t usually view them as spoilers.

  75. Tee
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 20:22:57

    For those who enjoy spoilers, then no book review is off limits. More power to those readers. However, for those of us who prefer no spoilers in a review, all we ask is that the reviewer (or poster) forewarn. That’s not too much to ask. “Possible spoiler ahead.” That’s it. We take it from there and skip over it (or not). What many of us are objecting to is not giving a heads-up. Maybe we’d like the twist in the story to be as much of a surprise to us as it was to you (no matter whether your reaction was good or bad).

  76. MaryK
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 21:26:04

    @Anion: There is. He was a genetic experiment and has some rabid alien DNA. He was crazy for a while, but once he stabilizes, all of which happens before the story begins, he copes by being a government assassin.

    ETA: The otherworldliness helps, I think. I couldn’t handle a contemporary like that. This one is in a SF world were there’s a lot of general lawlessness.

  77. MaryK
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 21:52:41

    @GrowlyCub: I found the RT thread.

    That’s just . . . bizarre. I can hardly believe it.

    I’ll definitely never look at that author the same way again.

  78. Tae
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 02:18:19

    I’m a YES for spoilers and I’m a Peeta shipper. If I found out ahead of time that Mockingjay that Kat ends up with Gale then I would consider not reading the book because I would be that upset about it.

    I actively read up on TV series and movies to find out about the spoilers because I don’t want to be disappointed. I’m not too worried that I won’t be surprised. I’ve been disappointed too many times and felt like I had wasted my time when the heroine ended up with the wrong guy.

  79. Marianne McA
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 02:52:22


    Perhaps it’s just a case of Reading: ur doing it rong. Be stupid to be bothered that people read the end (love my sister & she’s a good deal more literate than I am) but I suppose it seems like someone who refuses to watch a sporting event until they’ve been told the result. You could argue that that’d mean the spectator would avoid all the apprehension, tension, false hope and blighted expectations – but wouldn’t they also miss the thrill of an unexpected victory? So maybe the end-of-the-book-reader can avoid a lot of bad reading experiences, but does it not cost them some of those great reading moments?

    I do reread, so I know I can profoundly enjoy a book even when it’s so familiar I can half recite certain passages: but I’ve never been thrilled by a reread.

  80. BlueRose
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 04:32:01

    I dont mind a little bit of spoilering, so long as it is clearly noted so I could avoid it if I wanted to, but I sympathise with the reviewer, in that they may have to spoil a little bit to be able to review.

    I am still feeling a little battered about a comment I made on another list about a TV episode – it was the beginning of the series before last of NCIS and I drew a parallel between the list authors book and the torture scene – didnt say who was being tortured or why, just mentioned there was a torture scene and there were drugs and I got totally slapped down and felt like I had to apologise just to keep the complainer happy, and yet I didnt feel I had spoiled anything at all. So YMMV quite a lot :(

  81. Aoife
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 06:36:51

    @GrowlyCub Oh, no, I didn’t say or mean “moral superiority”! And I completely understand why some readers don’t like spoilers/reading ahead. However, there were several comments from different posters along the lines of people who read endings/spoilers ruin the reading experience, or don’t experience the book the way the author intended, spoil the book for themselves, etc., which implies that there is a right way to read. I think it all boils down to what works for the individual, and I operate under the assumption (silly me!) that each individual reader has a fairly good grasp on what works for her. If someone liked to read the middle first, then every five pages in reverse, I might comment that that methodology wouldn’t work for me, but I wouldn’t say that she was “ruining” or “spoiling” her reading experience because, obviously, for her, she’s not ruining anything.

    @Marianne McA That’s a good analogy, although I’m not much of a sports fan. There’s no doubt that spoilers for a book must affect the thrill of novelty for the reader, but that’s only a loss if the reader places a high value on being thrilled vs. the potential to be upset/annoyed/infuriated etc.

  82. Jane Lovering
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 06:40:55

    @hapax. I’m so sorry for your loss. Never meant to upset anyone, it’s just my excuse for being impatient!

    I have a theory that people whose lives are passing through a stressful phase will try to circumvent the stresses in reading by finding out the end first (wishing we could in real life). When life is meandering along, I’m quite happy to take endings in their own good time.

  83. Jane
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:41:48

    @Jill Sorenson I guess it’s a matter of self selection. While I thought Hunger Games was great, Chasing Fire was less interesting, in part because so much of it felt like a redux of Hunger Games. I’ve got hundreds of books to read and if the finale to the trilogy isn’t going to end in a way that I suspect will be satisfying for me, why spend the time (or money) on that book. There are few books that are real “must reads” for me. And frankly, I’ve been burned far too often as a reader trusting the author.

  84. Ros
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:58:25

    @Jane Lovering: I agree with your theory! I mean, I tend to read the end first anyway because I’m impatient, but I definitely find that when I’m going through a difficult time I place a higher value on security in my reading. I’ll do a lot of re-reading, and I’ll also read a higher proportion of romances than normal, because I can trust that there will b a happy ending.

  85. Jill Sorenson
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 09:26:23

    @Jane: Yeah, I wasn’t as wowed by Catching Fire. The second half fell a little flat for me. But I’m still totally invested in that world, the characters, future of the districts etc. Very excited for next book.

    P.S. the site isn’t “remembering me” again! Are you blocking me, Jane?!

    @Aoife: I didn’t mean to imply that there is any right or wrong way to read a book. As a reader, I want tension and surprises, not security. I’m fascinated by the differences between readers. No moral judgment intended. As an author, I don’t care if people read my books backwards, forewards, or upside down!

    Also interesting to note that spoilers sell books–perhaps authors should not protest so much about them in reviews?

  86. Heather
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 12:10:41

    I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday and still can’t quite decide where I fall, although I voted no.

    I’ve been know to flip to the end of the story to a) find out if the heroine ends up with the guy I want or b) see if it’s worth continuing.

    But I’ll avoid the internet and reviews when I haven’t seen the most recent episode of Lost. (That I blame on some east coast a$$hole who ruined the season 5 ending of Buffy on a Roswell forum before it even aired on the west coast. sigh)

    But anyway, a spoiler warning is never out of place. (See how I avoided the Buffy spoilerage for those who still haven’t seen it. lol)

  87. Tee
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 14:05:20

    —Heather wrote: But anyway, a spoiler warning is never out of place.—

    That is so true. Actually, nothing more need be said on this matter. Spoil away, but do the courtesy to others by prior informing them.

  88. Aoife
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 15:09:38

    @ Jill Sorenson I agree that the differences between readers is fascinating and the spoiler/no spoiler dichotomy is probably only one of many. Discussions like this are one of the reasons I enjoy visiting DA.

  89. hapax
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 17:28:44

    @Jane Lovering: Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you upset me. It actually struck me as kind of funny, since I am so opposed to spoiler reviews, and yet the example you gave of a good reason for spoilers actually happened to me.

    And in the interest of complete disclosure, I’ll admit that I frequently flip to the end of books, *especially* suspense titles, *ESPECIALLY* (as you astutely observed) in times of stress — when everything else is going badly, I can’t cope with investing in a character who doesn’t make it out okay.

    I just like the spoiling to be at my discretion and under my control.

  90. Bella F
    Mar 31, 2010 @ 18:29:44

    I thought there weren’t going to be ANY ARCs of Mockingjay?! Isn’t that what Scholastic announced?

    As for spoilers, I hate them. Anything outside of the summary or blurbs in terms of plot details is pretty much something I don’t wanna know, especially if it’s a series I’m obsessed with at the time. I’ll visit book blogs but usually won’t read the reviews (unless it’s from a blogger whose style I like& trust not to ruin it for me), I just read what the author themselves says in the interviews until I myself have read the book.

  91. MaryK
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 17:57:49


    A plot twist that I carefully built and nurtured over the course of several books, so it would be one of those things the reader knew all along but, like the MC, had simply never thought of before.

    Ah, but see, that’s the kind of thing that would make me pick up a series to see the cool twist play out. All the many series can start to run together. A spoilery detail that reveals a theme I’m particularly attracted to makes a series stand out.

    I’m kind of curious about your books now. :)

  92. Susan/DC
    Apr 06, 2010 @ 11:01:16

    I know this is very late and I’m sure no one else will read it, but I thought of something just the other night that relates perfectly to this topic. One of the things I loved about the movie “Shakespeare in Love” was the sense it gave you of what it was to see “Romeo & Juliet” for the very first time and not know how it ended. You could see it in the tension and anxiety and occasional hopefulness on the faces of the audience — would the young couple escape, would they die, would only one of them survive? No one knew and it created an experience that modern audiences cannot duplicate. I envy them that not knowing, that time before the very names Romeo and Juliet are almost always preceded by “doomed”. Today’s audiences still have the poetry and can understand all the foreshadowing, but the earlier audiences had an innocence and intensity we now lack.

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