I realize that review writing isn’t easy. Even with the plethora of uninformative reviews (personal opinion there), that doesn’t mean the writer put little to no effort into the review – even if it seems that way. So it stands to reason that the average book is hard to review: what to say, what’s unique, different, did the reader like it, etc. When a book appears with a twist, a mystery, clues, etc and it’s even harder to review, it’s no surprise the reviews tend to have spoilers. I’ve done spoiler reviews myself.
However, I do think it’s essential to keep spoilers out of reviews as much as possible. This benefits everyone. Those readers who use reviews to help choose their books can still enjoy the book without knowing the ending and the author doesn’t feel as those their book was just thrown up on a pirate site because now everyone know that Mrs. White did it with the candlestick.
Romance reviews are really easy. It’s a HEA and there is really no spoiler that despite the tense question of “will jack and tom end up together?!” the reader knows they will end up together and they’re not buying the book to answer that question. They’re buying the book to read how Jack and Tom end up together despite the problems the author has thrown between them. There the journey of the romance is the reason to read the book, not the actual outcome. That is a given – it’s why readers buy romance. Well one reason anyway.
So what about mystery or other elements? The rule of thumb I use is that anything I didn’t see coming is a clear spoiler (duh). Even elements clearly telegraphed, if the author obviously thinks they are clever or a twist, don’t explicitly tell them. If one of the main characters has a surprise prince albert that plays into the plot – leave it out. Usually books are told in such a way as it’s clear to see what the author thinks of as the twist or an important clue – even if it doesn’t work the way the author wants or it’s really not that clever. Still, the story uses it as so and other readers may enjoy it more.
It’s exceedingly difficult to review a book without spoilers. I have a hard time doing it and furthermore, I don’t enjoy writing those reviews. Especially so if the review is negative, as there is very little you can say beyond that element wasn’t clever/didn’t work/too obvious. You can’t really explain that it was too obvious because Jack killed Tom’s brother in the opening sequence thus Tom is bound to find out and so the argument was uh, predictable. Instead there is an inherent vague quality to the review with bland words and not much explanation. Yet the review is for the reader so they can make a judgment. They can decide if they are intrigued enough to read the book even knowing the twist isn’t that well done and as obvious as the proverbial smoking gun.
Giving too many clever details and synopsis points away hurts everyone. Although I personally like spoilers in a review when they are obvious such as Tom and Jack are going to live happily together – it’s a romance – I’d rather not be told that Tom and Jack kill each other in a bizarre Romeo and Juliet twist. You can simply say there is no happy ending due to a weird twist.
What do you think?
Too many spoilers in reviews? Or not enough?