Discussion

Are Spoilers In Book Reviews Okay? How Are You Going To Sell Me The Book If You Kill The Suspense?

I’ve been blog hopping a lot lately. It’s all good fun and I mostly like what I see, but… There’s this recurring problem I keep encountering.

It’s just the fact that half the reviews I read spoil the book for me.

Ron Weasley saying DAFUQ confused

This fact baffles me to the ends of the world! Like… We are reviewers, right? What is our goal? What we, as reviewers, are trying to do, can be one or more of the following:

✓ To inform the public of the existence of this really cool book
✓ To make the public hyped up for this really cool book
✓ To raise the suspense so the reader can’t help buying the book

You can append this list for me, I’m sure there are many goals for our work! But, bottom line – we write reviews to make the reader want to have to buy the book to find out what happens.

So let’s think straight for a moment. Say, we review the book like quite a bit of the reviewers do currently – give the full synopsis. Including what actually happens. How are you going to keep the reader in suspense when you’ve already told them what happens? How are you selling the book?

There is one and only one case when you’re going to want to do that.  It’s when the book was so bad, you don’t actually want anyone to buy it. But that is not the case I’m seeing on a lot of blogs right now. People are doing this for 4 and 5 star books.

The worst part is that I think a lot of them don’t understand they’re doing it. Oh, it’s not really a spoiler… I just said “I really liked the way the real bad guy was uncovered” – it’s just my opinion! Except, the premise says “Is she really the murderer, or is she innocent?” Good job, reviewer. You have taken away the reason I would have read the book. You have just told me there is “a real culprit” who isn’t the main character.

hermione slow clapping

(#truestory, BTW. This post in inspired by a review with this exact problem.)

So… Guys and gals, don’t do this. I can understand that you might want to include a spoiler purely for the sake of discussion with people who have already read the book – I’ve done that. But don’t do it in an ARC/obscure book review. Don’t do it before the release. Put it in spoiler tags. There are plugins for that, and it’s really not hard. You will at least give the reader the choice to see or skip the spoiler.

So this might have come across as a slightly angry post, and I’m surprised myself about how I feel about this (almost just as surprised that I incidentally used only Harry Potter GIFs in this whole post!) But it’s an important topic and the community would benefit a lot if we all just paid attention to what we’re doing with the little things. Nobody likes being spoiled! And even aside from that – you don’t look professional when you blog like that. I know you’re really capable of better! Even spoilers aside, the review is always much more interesting to read when it’s not the synopsis of the book.

Do you get tired of reviews that are dragged out synopses of a book? And have you ever been spoiled when reading one? Share your #feels!

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

Don't forget to subscribe to comment replies! <3 (it's the little bell symbol)

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Angela Z.
Guest
I often give away some spoilers in my reviews, but I can’t stop myself because I need them to explain why I liked the character, or a certain scene or even the book. When I read other reviews, I don’t care about spoilers. If a book picks my attention I will read it! 🙂 For example, I just read today ACOTAR, but I knew since months ago what would happen to the main character and such. I understand where your opinion comes from, as I wasn’t that surprised about the things that were happening in the book. But if a… Read more »
Jamie
Guest
This has been something that has frustrated me a lot. I always thought it was odd that people seemed to confuse “review” with “summary” of books. I’m not sure how literature is taught abroad in schools, but I know for me in America book reports usually only taught students how to summarize a piece of work. Some teachers would try to teach people how to analyze but it’s hard to teach that. I’ve had this gripe too recently, since I’ve been getting into mystery/thriller books this year, and it’s so hard to read book reviews or even sometimes the book… Read more »
Jackie B.
Guest
I adore you. You’re right, of course– both that we should be promoting books and that we shouldn’t be spoiling things. Oh, and that probably most people spoiling things don’t realize they are providing spoilers. About that last bit– I am very careful about what I include in my blog posts. In fact, you know I use a Spoiler Alert plug-in so I can still rant/rave and not ruin anything. But, there are times where I know what I writing might be misconstrued as a spoiler to some people. For example, something which might be explained in the blurb. Or… Read more »
Laura Thomas
Guest

I could go on and on about this sore subject but I’m not going to. I agree, we should be selling the book to people not spoiling the plot for them. I try very hard to share my thoughts, recommend or not recommend the book and perhaps tease readers a bit to get them to try it. I hope I’ve never spoiled a book with my review.

Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight
Guest
YEP. I feel you so, so much. I try very hard to stay away from spoilers, so when I see reviews that flat out spoil stuff.. I am not a happy reader. Spoiler tags are your friends! I even try to stay away from talking about whether I even liked an ending- the only way I say anything is like you said, if it infuriates me beyond reason, then I will include a spoiler tag. I think a lot of it is unintentional, but still, it hurts readers. I think the absolute worst is when I see spoilers in like,… Read more »
Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight
Guest
I think spoilers are fine as long as they’re hidden or very clearly marked in a way that people can avoid them. I know some people actually do like spoilers. But I get angry when I see unmarked spoilers, even for books I’ve read, because I don’t want them to be spoiled for others. It’s also rude to the author since it might cause people to lose interest or ruin the impact in the book. But diff people consider diff things to be spoilers, so it can be a gray area in some cases. Like the example you gave, I… Read more »
Ellie Warren
Guest

I just read a book where the character spoils an unrelated book for very little reason! I personally don’t write reviews to try and sell a book though (I read more backlist stuff these days) and I can appreciate the desire to have discussions with other readers. But yes, you need to make it obvious that there are spoilers ahead.

I don’t really read reviews of books I haven’t read yet but know I want to, because it’s hard to know what a spoiler is for me. I quite like going into a book knowing nothing!

Greg
Guest
There is definitely a fine line between talking about the book in a reviewing way and spoiling it- I definitely know what you mean. I try not to do spoilers without a spoiler tag but I’m sure I’ve accidentally let slip too much information. And I know some of my older reviews were more synopsis- centered than my more recent ones- I’ve kinda deliberately tried to change my review style so I’m not spending as much time on the premise. If that makes sense. I’ve often wondered the best way to talk spoilery about a book (because obviously the review… Read more »
herding cats & burning soup
Guest

Personally I find book blurbs spoilery. lol I don’t understand why people would read them. They spoil so much of a book.

Raven
Guest

So, I review books to…review them. Honestly. If I enjoy a book I say so, if I don’t I say so. I point out why in both scenarios. It’s publicity either way, but I’m not going to give a book I thought was horrible 5 stars.

Moving on from that point, you can’t properly review a book without spoiling it. I think it’s something readers should expect going into reviews that there will be spoilers. Also, according to science, spoilers are a good thing. My partner wrote a piece about spoilers that explain them far better than I do. https://www.gamecrate.com/spoilers-aren%E2%80%99t-just-good-they-are-necessary/16693/?cm_mmc=GameCrate-_-Facebook-_-SpoilerNecessary-_-NA

Angela @ Books of a Shy Girl
Guest

I agree with you. I can’t review a book, without spoiling it. I try, but it’s very difficult and something always slips!

Anna @ The Biblotaph
Guest
I completely agree with you – adding in all the details about a book makes it pointless to read the book. I love Goodreads spoiler tags – they make it easy to feel better about putting in the little important tidbits that you want to talk about. My thought is that it isn’t that difficult to put in vague feelings about important parts of a book. Things like “The ending was anticlimactic.” or “The main character’s anticlimctions as the book progressed really disappointed me.” or “The twist ending made this book worth reading.” are all things you can put in… Read more »
Jeroen
Guest
Hi, Evelina, Just like you I’m never ok with spoilers, for pretty much the same reasons you stated. However, not only is it offensive towards the reader, it also shows disrespect towards the writer as well, who spent so much time and creativity building up to this one moment that’s supposed to wow the readers and make it totally worth it. That said, I wonder if the same “rule” applies to history books? Can the grand scheme of things be spoiled, since we basically already know how the described events turned out? (for instance, we all know that Anne Frank… Read more »
Steff
Guest

I agree, I absolutely HATE spoilers. I try to be really, really careful when writing my reviews…even if it is an older book (which most of my reviews are usually for because I don’t get ARC’s haha), I try and make it more based on my feelings about the plot, world-building etc. I like reviews where there is the no spoilers section and then the spoilers section, so the reader gets the choice. This is an awesome post!!!

Sam @ WLABB
Guest
You pretty much nailed it – we want people to read the books, so you have to avoid any big reveals. I problem arises with something I struggled with and have written and seen many posts about: how do you know it’s a spoiler? There are obvious ones, but there may be more subtle things that would best be kept a secret for the reader to reveal, and this could be so subjective. The struggle! For the most part, I gush about the characters, because that is something that is so important for me, and I read a lot of… Read more »
Marta Pascual Pérez
Guest

You are so right! I’m my reviews if I really want to talk about a particular detail in the book I will put a big warning before I do, plus put the letters in white so you have to do an effort to read the spoiler. Not always the second but the first for sure.
If you want to read the spoiler and ruin the book for you at least you should be able o to make the choice.
Great post!!!!

Tasheena Rose
Guest

WAAAAAT?! WHY? lol.

I hate spoilers, so I try to avoid them in my reviews as much as possible. I only get close if something is problematic, and even then I try to be vague.

Vlora
Guest
Ah, this is difficult for me, because on the one hand I HATE spoilers, but on the other hand sometimes it’s really hard to write a good review without at least giving away some information. I always put a spoiler warning if I want to discuss major events that happened in the book, so I don’t really see a problem there. But I know what you mean – everyone has a different perception of what ‘major’ means so often I read a review that spoils something that takes away from my enjoyment of the book, but the person clearly didn’t… Read more »
Ashley @ Inside My Minds
Guest

There are times when spoilers are appropriate and that is when a reviewer is pointing out harmful/problematic content. There have been times when I have read reviews and read the spoilers because I want to know what happens. I haven’t really been spoiled by other people. If I don’t want to be spoiled, I don’t read reviews.

Emz Chang
Guest

I really hate spoilers but know I’m guilty of accidentally including them. Especially when it’s a who ends up who scenario. Thank you for pointing that out! I’ll have to be more careful in the future.

What makes me upset is when people include blatant spoilers in their review without warning. I can understand that sometimes you want to talk about things in your review that won’t make sense without revealing details of what happened but HIDE it. Geez. Or at least give a disclaimer before the review.

Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books
Guest

I am not a fan of spoilers in reviews. I work hard to write spoiler free reviews and agree that giving too much away isn’t helpful to others. I like to be surprised and I think other readers do as well. As much as I hate spoilers, when I see a spoiler tag….I have a hard time not clicking on it. It is an illness. Of course, I don’t do that if I actually hope to read the book in the near future.

TeacherofYA
Guest

There is a blogger who I am friends with, and I purposely have stopped reading her reviews. Why? Because she literally does this: “in the first quarter of the book you have this guy and he does this and this…..in the 1/2 mark, this happens….at 3/4 of the book the world is about yo be destroyed but he stops it from happening (thanks!)…and I feel the ending was really good because he wasn’t the bad guy.”

Seriously? That’s not a book review, that’s a book report. Thanks though!

Lin
Guest
Oh I love this post! And BTW agaiiin HAPPPYYY BIRTHDAYYY I wish you all the bookish dreams you have ever had and still have to become true and all the best in this world because you are an awesome human book lover being and I am sooo glad that I met you!!! <3 This being said I would like to comment on the post!! I couldn't agree more and I perfectly understand your point of view, I always (al least always try) when writing a review put a SPOILERS or SPOILER AHEAD GO ON YOUR OWN RISK title so people… Read more »
Aritri Chatterjee
Guest

Ugh! I hate reviews with spoilers especially those that don’t even give any spoiler alerts. Like why would anyone do that? Don’t you want me to read the book?
Thanks for writing this. I am going to send this link to anyone who attempts to write a review with terrible spoilers.

Lashaan Balasingam
Guest

Yep. Reviews with spoilers are virtual weeds that we should really cut out of this world. Or at least hide them under the ground–with plugins. I’m sorry that you ran into a reviewer who did that and hopefully you won’t run into too many other reviewers like that one. I too avoid spoilers in my reviews. After all, if I don’t want any coming from others, I better not start spoiling others. Nice little, very necessary, rant! 😉

kimbacaffeinate
Guest

I try very hard not to mention anything that isn’t in the synopsis and even then if I feel the synopsis was too spoiler I will not mention it. I have had people actually comment and say something that is an out right spoiler. It is hard. If I feel the need to mention something, but I put those in spoiler brackets.

Anastasia
Guest

I feel like it’s so hard to avoid spoilers these day…like basically if I don’t want spoilers I shouldn’t open my laptop or my phone! So it doesn’t bother me as much as it should probably. I try to write my reviews without spoilers though. At least without any major ones. Or without those exact plot twists that are the best about the book… Haha I love that Goodreads has this spoiler section, we need the same option on WordPress!

Jenna @ Falling Letters
Guest

Hahh, I think I frequently have some form of spoiler in my reviews ^^; When I first started blogging, I wanted to record my thoughts on a book (rather than recommend a book for others to read), so I would discuss what happens in the book. I still do that, and mark those sections for spoilers, but certainly with ARCs and newer releases I try to keep in mind that a lot of people are still deciding if they should read that book and I don’t want to, as you say, ruin the suspense.

Karen Blue
Guest

I try to always hide my spoilers or give some warning prior to. I agree that reading a review with spoilers without some sort of warning is a big ol bummer. This post is full of things that NEED to be said. Thanks for posting!

Lola
Guest
I always find spoilers a bit of a tricky issue as there are varying definitions of what constitutes as a spoiler. I always try my best to avoid spoilers in my review, but I also recognize how easy some of them slip in without you even realizing it at times. When I first started reading mystery books I had to catch myself every time when I used he or she to describe the murderer and now always try to use a word that doesn’t hint to a gender. But even small things can be a spoiler even when you don’t… Read more »