Monday, April 18, 2011

Those pesky little things called spoilers

Okay guys. Today, I want to talk about spoilers.

Not everybody has the same definition of what a "spoiler" is, and not everyone has the same reaction to them. Sometimes it even depends on the book. So what's up with that?

To me, a spoiler is generally something that will reveal a detail about the plot that wasn't in the summary. Yes, it can be as vague as that (I'm crazy). In some books (long awaited sequels, mostly), I don't even want to read quotes. But then again, I'm quite flexible with certain books, mostly because I'm a huge wuss and like to find out if the ending of a book will reduce me to tears or not. I'm illogical like that.

I thought everybody was the same. Dreaded spoilers, covered their eyes when friends were talking about a book they hadn't read etc (metaphorically covering my eyes, of course. Erm, of course.) And then I found out it it wasn't true. Cue bewilderment.

So tell me. Do spoilers bother you? Or do you like them? Do you want to find out how a book is going to end, or do you just like knowing the outline to see if it's something you might want to read?

Now, for my spoiler loving readers: I know you don't mind being spoiled. That's completely fine. BUT please, be careful on websites like GoodReads. You may not realize it, but when you post a spoilery comment, it shows up on all your friends' feed. And there's a really, really easy way to avoid that. Put a tiny HTML tag around your spoiler, like this:

<spoiler>I sobbed like a baby when I found out the killer was actually his baby chihuahua!!!</spoiler>

Easy as that. And you will save countless lives people from finding out the twist at the end of the book (a chihuahua! Who knew.)

OR, you can just untick the "Add to my Update Feed" box when you're commenting directly on someone's review/status

or click on "advanced" and then untick the box when you're commenting from your GoodReads homepage

Every time you untick that box after leaving a spoiler in a comment, a bunny is happy somewhere. True story.
You don't want to make bunnies unhappy, do you?

Do you?


Justine said...

Ooh, great post. Indeed, spoilers are little pesky things. I agree with your definition of a spoiler. In a review, I wouldn't mind though a brief explanation of characters even if it's not in the summary. But plot spoilers, oh definitely scary. I literally close my eyes and carefully take a peek or just cover the laptop screen with my hand, hehe. :)

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

You make a great point. Everyone has a different definition of "spoilers." I personally do not like spoilers unless I create them myself by reading the back of the book ;). Yes. Really.

I think it is hard for bloggers to know when they've gone to far. You want to write a good review that doesn't gush without concrete evidence that something is gush worthy (and show you really read the book...or is this just me?).

I worry that in my attempt to avoid spoilers, I create reviews that are too generic or vague.

Great post.

Jennifer A said...

Spoilers are one of my biggest pet peeves in life. You can ask my friends, I kind of get a bit angry if anyone ruins a book or movie for me.

I just feel like you don't get to fully experience a story when you already know a lot about it, or if you know how it's going to end. I want to experience it as the characters are experiencing it.

Sometimes I won't even read the whole description of the book before I read it.

I review books in this way, too. If it's something that I wouldn't want to know about before reading, then I don't give it away when i talk about the book. I feel like I can say how I feel about it without giving the story away.

There are times when I really want to talk about plot twists or whatever, but it's not fair to future readers, so I don't.

I also won't read a blog that posts spoilers.

Great topic! :)

Jennifer of Little Shelf

Cait said...

I agree it's a bit of a grey area. Of course I'd never reveal something huge; but sometimes people consider minor things to be's hard to gauge these things I reckon. Like Alexis I tend to write more generic reviews; giving only the description given by goodreads and then only commenting generally on plot/characters/writing etc. Interesting post!!

Anonymous said...

I think I write reviews just on the side of not being spoilers but definitely not generic. I will often discuss characters and I definitely put my favorite quotes in the review. I think quotes are the best way to decide if the writing style is something a reader would like. My summary of the story or synopsis generally comes straight from GoodReads or someplace similar and those aren't spoilers. My review discusses what I felt were the strong or weak points of the book. Pop over and read a few of mine (of the books you don't think you'll ever read) and decide for yourself. I'm very interested in what you think!

Lamia (The Book Eater) said...

@Justine: I do that too. And when I forget I'm in public, I get laughed at by my friends. They just don't understand us.

@Alexis: it's not just you! I love quotes in a review when it's about the first book in a series, or a stand-alone. It gives me an idea of how it's written and if I'd like it or not. I freak about quotes when they're in a book I've been waiting for, like a sequel (someone spoiled a very cute and crucial line in Mockingjay on twitter back when it came out in august. That's when I realized I really, really didn't like to be spoiled a quote lol)

@Jennifer: You know, a friend just told me that she actually liked reading the end of a book because she enjoyed the "plot weaving" aspect of a story more than the mystery. She said that once she got the worrying part out of the experience, she enjoyed the book more (which I can comprehend, but not really understand haha). So I think it depends a lot on what you, as a reader, are looking for. Some people probably like spoilers in reviews. I, however, am not one of them :D

@Cait: I don't mind a few details, but one of my big pet peeves (and I was guilty of it in my reviews in the beginning until I got annoyed by it) is when a review reveals the love interest when he/she is not meant to be obvious from the start. For example: I read Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder without knowing who the narrator was going to end up with. And I had the best time trying to figure it out! Same thing with Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (although that one was a bit more obvious, but again, not from the very start. Thank god I didn't read the summary, because it gives it away.) It was so exhilarating not knowing, and sometimes reviewers spoil that and I enjoy the book less. Sigh. But sometimes to really discuss chemistry, it's unavoidable. Hmmm. Definitely something to ponder.

@BookBelle: I don't mind at all when people discuss characters. Characterization is one the most important things in a book. And I don't agree with you about summaries on GoodReads. Like I told Cait, sometimes they give away the love interest, which is annoying, and in a particular case (Mercy by Rebecca Lim, I think), I've seen someone say in their review that the summary of the book on goodreads gave away the whole mystery... Which is just not okay. GoodReads should totally enable the spoiler tag in their summaries haha. But seriously, I think that's more a problem of what to put in a summary than what is and isn't a spoiler, though. Thoughts?

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

Oh man. Spoilers. Spoilers are EVIL. I guess it's tough because everyone does have a different opinion on what spoilers are. I don't mind vague comments on events or characters, but when you're actually telling what happens in a book? No thank you!! The only kinds of spoilers I don't mind is when people say "but there's a happy ending anyway" or something, because I LOVE happy endings. So sometimes if it's a book on a tougher subject matter but they say "the ending is hopeful" or something along those lines I'm far more likely to pick it up.

But yah, in general? Spoilers suck. I get SO MAD at Twitter when people are spoiling books or TV shows. I'm like "dude, not EVERYONE watches live TV!" I've taken to avoiding the computer on Vampire Diaries nights.

ComaCalm said...

I hate spoliers. If I see one I immediately comment and attempt to make them feel guilty.

'Why did you do that? Why? I wanted to read this book but now there's no point because you've just told me what happens. Why would you do this to me? Do you have no feelings? You make kittie cwy. :'('


Lamia (The Book Eater) said...

@Ashley: hahaha "Spoilers are evil". I should have put that in my blog description or something.
I don't completely agree with you on the happy ending thing. There are some books, like If I Stay, where I would have hated to know if it ended happily or not. It would have spoiled my entire experience of the book. But when a book looks sweet and innocent, I appreciate a vague warning that tells me it's not fluffy bunnies.
And yeah, I don't watch TVD or Glee, but whenever it's on I see my entire feed full of #glee and #tvd and people screaming at one another because THANKS FOR SPOILING, ASSHOLE. Well, okay, they're usually more polite, but you get the gist haha.

@ComaCalm: Ha! See, I don't do that in case they're evil people who did it on purpose. I'm not being weird here, there really are some people out there who do it just to be annoying, like, you're reading a mystery book on the subway and the guy you're sitting next to tells you the ending (I think I saw that on the FML website?)
But yeah, I wanted to read a book by Lisa McMann a few weeks ago and one of my goodreads friends basically said that "he would have never thought that [insert plot twist that reveals the entire mystery of the book here]. It was very clever." without putting a spoiler tag or putting his review under a cut and I was like WHAT THE HELL. I unfriended him, because what if he did this with every book he reviewed? (I didn't actually know him). Sigh. Unwarranted spoilers like that make me see red.

Small Review said...

I'm really weird about spoilers. Some books I don't care if I get a gigantic spoiler, some I don't mind if I get a vague spoiler and some I don't even want to read the blurb! I have no discernible rhyme or reason :)

Have you read this post about spoilers? I loved it. I do that kind of spoiler when talking about books sometimes, but never in a review.

I agree with Alexis. When I'm writing a review I'm never sure how much is too much while also not writing a review that's too vague. Some people are crazy about spoilers--and would even consider a mention of the main love interest's name as a spoiler. But, I don't know, I think that's a little extreme. I think if a person is that sensitive then maybe they shouldn't read reviews of books they haven't read yet.

Then there's the flip side of spoilers. I asked my coworker about a movie the other day and she blurted out the whole ending! I didn't even know the thing that happened in the end was a possibility! Ugh, she totally spoiled everything.

Thanks for the tips on the spoiler tags in Goodreads!

Small Review said...

Oh, and I love your header! That post it note is hilarious :P

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