Spoliers in Reviews
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Ugh...the title should say "spoilers" in reviews. I type faster than I think.
Frankly, HOW does one write a book review about a piece of fiction without talking about WHAT HAPPENS in the book? I'd think that those who are "spoilerphobic" would simply avoid reading any reviews at all.
"Spoiler is any element of any summary or description of any piece of fiction that reveals any plot element which will give away the outcome of a dramatic episode."
Not everything that happens in a piece of fiction is a "spoiler;" a spoiler is when someone gives away how something turns out: for instance who the murderer was in a murder-mystery or how two people resolve their issues in a "man vs. man" story.
When I read reviews (which I guess I'll avoid from now on), I'm looking for author's craft and whether or not people thought the story was believable/entertaining/interesting. You can say all of that without giving away how things turn out.
or maybe that's just not happening to me anymore cause I'm 63?
But even if the ending could ONLY be "flip of the coin" (two possible outcomes, which is somewhat rare in decent literature), I still don't want to know which side is going to land face up or the events immediately proceeding it that resulted in it landing that side up.
You can say it, but a random reviewer's mere statement of opinion is not likely to be of any interest to me as a potential reader unless it also explains why the reviewer thought that. Sometimes that's very difficult to do without entering into details of the plot. And then you get into the grey area where one person's necessary evidence is another person's spoiler. Especially when you're talking about a book that "everyone's read", or where a particular kind of ending is imposed by the genre. No-one's got a right to complain if you say "Troy falls" or "reader, I married him", but what about the ending of Tess or Moby-Dick? You might find it hard to say something interesting in a review without referring to the outcome of Captain Ahab's epic struggle with the whale, or Hardy's even more epic struggle with the conventions of tragedy, and 99% of the people reading your review will have read the book or seen the film. Is it reasonable to festoon it with red flags for the benefit of a few silly people who think that knowing the ending will spoil their enjoyment of a great work of literature?
I agree that it's bad manners to give away the outcome in a genre where the plot is the whole point of the book, e.g. to name the murderer in a detective story or to reveal whom the heroine of a romance marries, but beyond that level I wouldn't want to see any fixed rules.
You wouldn't believe how often readers get pissed off: "I hope you're happy now you've spoiled it for me!"
Being a prolific reader doesn't automatically make a person a good reader. My sister-in-law reads incessantly but seldom understands what she's reading and doesn't remember what she read three weeks ago -- which is to say she usually remembers a title but cannot recall what was actually in the book. She might as well spend her time watching Dobie Gillis reruns.
Adult readers (those who get bored reading 6-12) all understand that writing novels is in some ways like building boats: some of them float and others don't. I don't know how to build boats or how to tell a good one from a bad one just by looking at it. So if I went looking for a boat, I'd like someone there to tell me which will weather the storm, which will capsize and sink, and why.
My sister-in-law, when she goes looking for a car, finds one in the color she likes. Sometimes it runs; sometimes it runs straight into a junkyard -- or a ditch.
And I don't blame readers at all for getting angry for you giving things away. That's incredibly rude. If you want to discuss the book with them, you ask them where they are first so that you know what you can and cannot discuss. It's a bit extreme to say it ruined the entire book for them, but you ruined that point of suspense for them.
If you don't mind books being spoiled, it's perfectly acceptable for you to seek that information on your own, but to force that information on someone against their will, without knowing whether or not they want to know, just seems kind of arrogant to me, like you're showing off that you know something that they don't. You're robbing them of their own personal experience.
I made a Facebook post asking my friends how they felt about people spoiling books/movies for them and my favorite response was "it's kinda like stealing someone's kidneys while they sleep." I agree with that.
The line about "being kidnapped by Chinese people and carried off to the jungles of Peru" was my standard thrust. I used it no matter what they were reading -- pornography or The Bible or Gone with the Wind. You'd think anybody reading a historical novel about ancient Rome would know that nobody in that book would ever be kidnapped by Chinese people and carried off to the jungles of Peru. Still, some of them did not. On another tack, I never saw one of my victims survey his friends on Facebook for their opinion on the question. In sum, your reaction beats all I've ever seen.
The bright side is all the money I've saved you. You won't have to read the next Stephen King novel because you already know it ends with them all being kidnapped by Chinese people and carried off to the jungles of Peru. Same with your next Harlequin romance: everybody at the junior prom gets kidnapped by Chinese people and carried off. . . . You'll never have to buy any more books or read any of them ever again because they all end in the same way.
And now that I've saved you all that money, I should mention that I have a yellow car you'd probably like. I'll let it go for cheap!
#12 is perhaps more blatent than I would be - but given the works cover features the ourang, and from what I remember the fairly obvious build-up in the text, the story isn't spoilt by that knowledge, because it gives no clue to the reasoning behind it.
Again?? Dang! I hate it when authors get successful, and start to repeat themselves like that!
18> That's not /my/ definition; that's the generic definition. And while I agree with you that a big part of the book is how something happens, /what/ happens is a huge part, as well. If something were unexpected or someone gave away the ending to a point of suspense, that's a huge spoiler. The first generation of people to see/read Romeo and Juliet, before it became common knowledge, probably would have been pretty damn pissed off if someone told them the ending.
For instance if you're familiar with Fight Club: if someone had told me what the "twist" was before I read it, I think I probably would have punched them.
Benuathanasia, you would make a perfect first recruit for policeman. what say you?
I strongly suspect that most of Shakespeare's first-night audience would have been able to make a pretty good guess that they were going to get a "Boy meets girl, both die" plot: the title plus the fact that it's advertised as a tragedy would make any other outcome vanishingly unlikely. Of course, they wouldn't have known precisely how Shakespeare was going to get them to that point, but then again neither would someone who'd read a "spoiler" review without seeing the play itself.
Whenever this topic comes up, it makes me so happy that I only read non-fiction ... don't have to be worried about stumbling over "spoilers".
Someone on another website once mentioned that she was reading Alison Weir's non-fiction book about Richard III, The Princes in the Tower. However, she declared that she was not going to say what Weir's point of view was, because that would be a spoiler.
I nearly lost my mind.
If reviews start telling too much plot, I just stop reading. Sometimes it works, sometimes I've already seen the spoiler.
So some of us hate spoilers and some of us dont. I like to know usually, because, e.g. I would never have read One Day if I had known the ending. I was SO MAD! I HATED that book! but, it's all personal preference right?
That ought to satisfy everyone on this thread.
28) I don't know your genre preferences so:
The entire 39 Clues series has a new surprise/twist every few chapters. It's very simplistic, but still fantastically well done. It definitely caters to children with ADD; you can almost never tell what's going to happen next.
The Kidnapped series by Gordon Korman had an amazing ending. I /felt/ it coming subconsciously, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how he was going to pull it off convincingly; he did.
I find Steve Alten usually has really phenomenal twists (most notably Meg 2 and The Loch).
Michael Crichton has never gotten nearly enough credit, in my opinion. His books get turned into blockbusters that barely do any justice to his work. Prey had the absolute best twists and turns of any of his works.
P.C. Cast's Goddess Summoning series (obviously they'll end happily ever after because they're romances, but the WAY the happily ever after occurs are incredibly well done).
100x more-so for Jude Deveraux's Knight in Shining Armor.
Sofia Petrovna - this ending haunted me.
Three Musketeers - if you think you know it because you've seen one of the movies, be prepared to be dead wrong
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem (I suggest taking acid first; if you choose to read this, it makes the book interactive - or so I've been told).
Modern Magic by Anne Cordwainer
The person writing for an online shopping site can at least guess that whoever sees his review is thinking about buying the book, although you can't assume based on that the potential book buyer hasn't read it. Still, caution might be in order.
But for venues where the only concern, or the major concern, is to assess the book in as complete a way as possible, spoilers are a fact of life--perhaps even a necessity. After all, can you really fairly analyze a book if you are required to leave some key element of the plot out? And what does it say about the book if it requires that kind of hands off treatment in order to truly be enjoyed?
And if we are talking about books that have been out for a while, not newly released, then does the reviewer really need to tip toe around the sensibilities of the people who haven't read it yet?
I once got trashed on a mystery forum when, on the subject of Elizabeth George, I made an offhand comment to the effect that "man, it's never about the money with her books." I thus, apparently, managed to "spoil" the entire literary output of Elizabeth George for a couple readers. I couldn't feel guilty. At the time she was on her sixth or seventh book and I thought it was a fair assessment of George, the writer.
I also stopped reading Elizabeth George. Her own writing habits had managed to "spoil" the stories for me.
I'd rather not know a book's ending, although my enjoyment doesn't depend on remaining in the dark. If that's the only good thing about a given book, I'm probably not going to like it anyway. The exception is the whodunnit mystery genre, when not knowing who did it is the entire point. It's not something I read a lot of, but I prefer to make the discovery on my own when I do.
I've read back some of my earlier reviews, and found they are so light in story and commentary it's as if I didnt read the book at all. recent reviews dont tell the whole story, and rather than give away spoilers I will allude to it (and if necessary flag up that some people will find it disturbing).
Use angle brackets
'When I read reviews (which I guess I'll avoid from now on), I'm looking for author's craft and whether or not people thought the story was believable/entertaining/interesting. You can say all of that without giving away how things turn out."
~~~and I agree.
Long ago at school a "book report" gave all the details and a "book review" was an opinion on the book's attraction. I try for that.
The first generation of people to see/read Romeo and Juliet, before it became common knowledge, probably would have been pretty damn pissed off if someone told them the ending.
Actually, Shakespeare himself gives it away in the Prologue: " . . . From forth the fatal loins of these two foes/A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life/Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows/Do with their death bury their parents' strife . . ."
Tom Vanderbilt on endings in a New York Times column. Interesting - it had never really occurred to me that newspaper articles deliberately avoid putting the interesting stuff at the end, because the author never knows how much will be cut by the sub-editor.
Actually Romeo And Juliet is a comedy, not a tragedy.
In Shakespeare's time it was only a tragedy is someone important dies like a king everything else was considered a comedy.
She was probably just simplifying a bit. If you said "somebody noble or admirable (but flawed) comes to a bad end", you would be nearer the mark. But it's always dangerous to try to apply rules to Shakespeare.
Probably neither. Romeo and Juliet is a bit of an outlier, even in terms of Shakespearean tragedy. It was also one of his earliest, so perhaps he was experimenting!
In general, he did follow the Aristotelian concept of tragedy, which, to simplify, meant the fall of a noble (high-status) hero due to a tragic flaw. His great tragedies are in this mold: think Othello (jealousy), King Lear (pride), Macbeth (ambition), Hamlet (self-doubt)