Hey everyone! I did originally have a different topic planned for my second discussion of April, but with the release of The Raven King this past week, I thought that talking about spoilers would be particularly timely! As both book bloggers and readers, I think I’m right in saying that spoilers are something we fear, both unintentionally giving spoilers and receiving them. For TV shows, I don’t actually mind spoilers, in fact sometimes I actively look for spoilers, I like to have an idea of what’s going to happen and if something I don’t like is going to happen then I want to be prepared for that, but books are different. With books I want to discover things for myself and if I’ve read spoilers beforehand, then it can take the enjoyment out of the book for me, for instance with Allegiant, I was spoiled beforehand and whilst there were other things that I didn’t enjoy about the book, the biggest factor in my not enjoying it, I think, was the fact that I already knew the ending, so I spent the whole time I was reading it, just waiting for it to happen. That’s one of my favourite things of reading books that I’ve never heard of actually, because you have no idea what to expect and often that means I enjoy them more and usually these books aren’t books that are talked about by bloggers much, which means that you won’t come across spoilers before you read them. Spoilers are one of the main problems for me about reading hyped new releases, because I often don’t get to them until a few weeks or even months after the release date, so I always have to be extra specially careful about avoiding reviews of those books in case I get accidentally spoiled. An example of this is when I read Queen of Shadows, it came out in September but I didn’t start reading it until November, so for two months, I had to dodge reviews, it was pretty difficult considering almost every blogger I know was talking about it! It’s definitely not something I want to repeat though!
Obviously the last thing you want to do as a blogger is purposefully spoil a book for someone, so we all try to keep our reviews as spoiler free as possible but sometimes it’s difficult. For instance, if I’m reviewing books in a series, completely avoiding spoilers is not possible either because I’m reviewing a later book in the series, having read the previous books before blogging and will have to explain a bit about the previous books in the series in order for my review to make sense or even if I review the entire series on the blog, naturally, reviews for later books will contain spoilers for the previous books and that’s just not avoidable. It can often be very difficult to talk about certain books because there are lots of potentially spoilery bits and it’s hard to know what you can actually say in your review because you really don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but at the same time, you have to say something! Often, the parts of books I like the most, I can’t talk about in my reviews because it would potentially spoil the book, which is really frustrating and you want to be all “this book is so amazing because…..” and then you realize you can’t say why the book is so amazing because it would be a spoiler! I had this exact problem with Dangerous Girls, the reason I found the book so incredible was the ending but I couldn’t say anything about that because it would have been a huge spoiler, so all I could really do was flail around and be like “this book is so amazing, you have to read it!”. In fact any book with a twist is often like this for me, because the twist is usually what puts the book over the top and yet you can’t say anything about it because of spoilers.
Also different people regard different things as spoilers. After all, your reaction to a book can be a spoiler, if you say you cried then you know something sad is going to happen, but that is kind of difficult to avoid, since you want to be honest about your reaction to the book and honestly as long as no direct information is imparted, I don’t regard reactions as spoilers because a review is essentially your reaction to a book, if it made you angry, you’re going to say that, so I don’t regard that as a spoiler but other people might be because it gives an indication of how you’re going to react to the book. I kind of feel like that’s taking spoiler avoidance a step too far though, because there’s not really any way that you can write a review without saying how you felt about the book, if it made you cry, you’re going to say that, if it made you laugh, you’re going to say that, if it made you angry, you’re going to say that. To me, if you’re not directly imparting spoilery information, it’s not a spoiler.
There’s also the trouble if the spoiler is something that you feel you should warn people about, for example mental illness or sexual assault or abuse of any kind, it might be something that is revealed through the novel and not on the blurb and you don’t want to spoil the big reveal for people, but at the same time, it’s something that may be triggering or might turn people off the book and so they ought to know, so it’s hard to toe the line between being spoilery and giving people the information that they need in order to make an informed decision about whether to read the book.
Advance Reader Copies are also a tricky area. I don’t actually get any myself, but I follow people on Goodreads who do and if anyone’s reading books that are on my TBR, I have to avoid it because people tend to post their reactions in their status updates and can spoil you in that way. I totally get people wanting to post their reactions as they go along but it still sucks for those of us who haven’t got the book early and are going to want to read it when it comes out. Twitter is also a bit of a hornet’s nest when it comes to spoilers, as people often post reactions on there as they read as well. I try to just post on twitter when I start a book and when I finish a book and not talk about anything specific in between, but I totally understand why people want to do it and as long as they don’t post any specific detail, I’m okay with people wanting to react to a book as they go along.
Endings are also difficult, because if there’s a big ending or a big cliffhanger in a series, you want to talk about it, but at the same time you don’t want to spoil people. I always try to be as vague as possible, like just say it’s there and what I thought about it without giving explicit detail. That might be minor spoilery because people know to expect something big, but I think minor spoilery is okay. It’s major spoilery that isn’t. Character deaths are particularly tricky, because obviously you want to react, but you don’t want to give away who died, so you have to be as vague as possible, which is always really hard! I found this especially difficult when reviewing Unwind because I wanted to talk about a scene that had a really big impact on me, but it was hard because I didn’t want to be spoilery. In the end I did talk about it, but without mentioning character names, so it was minor spoilery rather than major spoilery. I would just not even mention character deaths, but obviously in books that have them, it’s a major part of my reaction, so I try to be as vague as humanly possible. I do think there’s such a thing as being too careful though, if you can’t even mention stuff that happens just because it might be vaguely spoilery, like you can’t mention there’s a plot twist just because the mention is a spoiler…..I feel like that’s going too far. As long as you don’t give details, I feel like it’s not really a proper spoiler, though other people may disagree with me here.
I have actually (and on more than one occasion) flipped forward in a book and found out spoilers, but I think if it’s self spoiling then it’s different to if someone spoils a book for you. I usually do this for one of two reasons, either I’m really bored and just want to know what will happen in the end or I’m really excited and I can’t stop myself from flicking forward. I don’t mind either way, because I made the decision to flick forward and it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book, because either a) I’m not that into the book in the first place or b) I still enjoy seeing how the characters get to that place. There’s a difference though between me doing that and spoiling a book for other people. I do try not to do this as much as possible, but what can I say? It’s a bad habit I have and I’m glad to say that I do this less now, but when things are getting tense, I do still sometimes flick forward to reassure myself that things are going to be okay! I try not to but it’s hard.
There are also certain types of books that are almost impossible to review because nearly everything is spoilers. I’m talking about mystery books here, they’re so difficult to review because how do you talk about the book without giving away the mystery? They’re exciting books but so impossible to review because you have to be so careful about not giving away the eventual outcome of the mystery (which is basically all you want to talk about!). Books with unreliable narrators are also pretty difficult to review because you don’t want to give away that the narrator is unreliable, but at the same time, that may be what makes the book good, so it’s hard to talk about why you liked it.
Basically, in a very roundabout way, what I’m saying is that spoilers are hard. Unless it’s a very obvious spoiler, which you should never, ever give, it’s difficult to know where to draw the line with spoilers. Even just mentioning plot twists could be considered a spoiler to some people. I feel like with spoilers you can never win though, because some people really don’t care and some people are very spoiler-phobic and even the mention that something remotely spoilery might possibly happen will make them angry. It’s so hard to review books without giving any spoilers away and I feel like as long as you don’t give major spoiler details and you always give spoiler alerts when you absolutely have to give spoilers (like when talking about series books), then it’s okay. Like with all things, you just have to be considerate. Just because a book is old, doesn’t mean you can’t still spoil it. In this age of the Internet, it’s difficult to avoid spoilers completely but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it easier for people. I hope that I manage to keep my reviews relatively spoiler free and warn you guys when there are spoilers that I can’t avoid, as it’s always something that I’m very paranoid about!
So over to you? How do you feel about spoilers? Do you completely hate them? Do you actively search for them? How do you avoid them in your reviews? Is anyone weird like me and self-spoil occasionally? (please say I’m not the only one who does that!) Let’s discuss, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. It goes without saying, please try to avoid spoilers in the comments!
I will have a new discussion post for you at some point during May, I don’t want to say an exact date because discussion posts take a while to write, but I do know that my first discussion post of May will be about Feminism In Young Adult Fiction, so I hope you guys are looking forward to that! In the meantime, I will have a review of my latest read The Glory for you guys really soon, so look out for that.