Discussion: Spoilers


Spoilers.  One of the most controversial topics for readers.  We’ve all had experiences with spoilers, and most of them haven’t ended well.  They can make or break a book, before you’ve even flipped open the front cover.

So what exactly is a spoiler?  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a spoiler is classified as:

1. information about the plot of a motion picture or TV program that can spoil a viewer’s sense of surprise or suspense;

2. a person who discloses such information

Spoilers often take away a sense of suspense that is commonly experienced when reading a novel for the first time.  They tend to be received…quite poorly, to put it nicely.  I’ve witnessed several major blow-ups that were prompted by a spoiler, both on individual blogs and on Goodreads.  Personally, I’ve always found spoilers aggravating – I like to be surprised while reading, and I have a greater tendency to mark a book DNF if I already know the ending or future plot points.

In recent years, many readers have been implementing spoiler warnings or alerts before divulging major plot points of a book that would not be evident from the summary on the back cover.  While these are often effective, not everyone chooses to utilize such warnings, allowing the unsuspecting viewer to stumble across a mind-shattering component of a book that he/she has yet to read.  Understandably, some of these instances may simply be an oversight of the original poster who was not intending to ruin a book for others, and a few comments to that effect should result in some sort of alterations.  However, there are a few occasions when readers intentionally spoil books for others.  Yes, intentionally.  And if you have yet to come across this, consider yourself fortunate.

I had a lovely encounter with a Goodreads user who sent me a PM about the ending of Allegiant, fully aware that I had yet to read it.  They just blatantly explained the ending in its entirety, ruining any of my previous excitement regarding the book.  No warning, no heads up, it just jumped straight into a description.  Ever since, I’ve found myself being a bit more cautious about opening/reading PMs from people I don’t know particularly well, as well as while reading reviews, because I’ve stumbled across multiple accidental spoilers in reviews.

I apologize for my mini-rant, I got a bit carried away.  As you can tell, this is a bit of a touchy subject for me.  But now, I want to hear what you think: What have your experiences been with spoilers?  Do you think there should be a more concerted effort to denote spoilers to limit the number of times that a book is ruined for someone?
Signature Olivia


15 thoughts on “Discussion: Spoilers

  1. I think reviewers should warn about spoilers. You cannot take for granted that someone has read the book. I typically stay away from spoilers in my own reviews, but if I am going to reveal any then I makes sure and put a warning out there. That really sucks that someone purposefully spoiled Allegiant for you. It’s one thing to put something in a review, but it’s another thing to purposefully send a spoiler to someone in a private message. Crazy.


  2. I usually *assume* (which isn’t always safe) that reviewers will put a disclaimer if they post reviews with spoilers. I haven’t been spoiled in a long while thankfully, but I cannot believe what happened to you on Goodreads! Did they just literally message you out of the blue?!

    I personally don’t usually review with spoilers, but if I really want/need to talk about them I warn readers ahead of time. (Although I always assume that if I’m reading a review for a book in a series that it will have spoilers for earlier books in the series, and therefore I will openly talk about book 1 if I’m reviewing book 2 without a spoiler warning)


    • I’m right there alongside you with assuming there will be a heads-up for a spoiler-laden review, which appears to be my demise most of the time! And yes, the person saw that I had just added Allegiant to my to-read shelf and proceeded to send me a PM with the ending. It wasn’t someone I had even messaged before!


  3. I think spoilers are inconsiderate and unnecessary. Its not fair to the reader or the author with maybe the rare exception. Perhaps in extreme cases if the spoiler is warning you to something offensive and help you avoid something you’d rather not read, it needs to be aptly labeled. With neon signs…


  4. [Sort of spoiler alert – but it involved Gone with the Wind, so you have probably read/seen it]

    My worst spoiler came long before the Internet when I was about 800 pages into Gone with the Wind and my mom asked “Is [insert major character here] dead yet?” Said character was most certainly still alive.

    At the time? I was not happy. Now, it has become a long-running family joke. So they aren’t always bad. But I say that with 25 years of hindsight.


  5. Great points and I would be annoyed too.

    In my case, it depends. There are times where I want to know what I’m getting into, and there are times where I want to go in blind, I won’t even read the blurb.

    I do the former when I’m about to start the series. When I’m acclimated and actually end up liking it, I go in blind with the next books.


  6. I don’t normally review books with spoilers because that ruins the fun for everyone else that wanted to read it. The one main exception is if it is a well-known classic such as Romeo and Juliet. It’s all but impossible to not know the ending of that play so I don’t think it warrants a spoiler warning. If I absolutely have to include a spoiler I try to warn at the beginning of my post and then where it is in the review. So many times I want to include something about the plot twist and go into detail, but normally I try my hardest not to.


    • I tend to do the same thing, only including spoilers when it’s a book that everyone has likely read and/or seen the movie. And I always try to warn people ahead of time (particularly after being on the receiving end of an unmarked spoiler!).


  7. Pingback: 2015 Wrap-Up | Brewing Up Books

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