Thursday, July 25, 2013

On Spoilers

Lately I've been thinking about how I do reviews, and the balance between talking about specific things from a book and giving too much away. And so, dear readers, I would love your thoughts.

But first, a story. **This story will completely spoil the movie The Sixth Sense, just so you know.** I'll post a little end of spoiler comment at the end of the story, if you're not familiar with plot of The Sixth Sense, but someday hope to be.

Once upon a time I was in high school, and The Sixth Sense had just come out. I was talking to one of my friends, and he said "Wasn't it crazy when you find out he was dead the whole time!" And I said "Jerk!"
Not really. I said "I haven't seen that yet." But I thought "jerk!"

Fast forward a couple years and I'm flipping channels with a college friend. And the last maybe 15 minutes of The Sixth Sense was on. And she said "I love this movie. Have you seen it?"
And I said, "No, but I know he's dead."
So we watch.

(But, here's the deal. The only thing I really knew about The Sixth Sense was from the trailer, featuring a little boy who said "I see dead people." I did not think Bruce Willis was especially important. So, when my spoilery friend said "he" was dead, I did not think he was talking about Bruce Willis.)

So we're watching, and it becomes apparent that Bruce Willis' character is dead.
And I say, "Wait, he's dead, too?"
Friend: What?
Me: Bruce Willis. He's also dead?
Friend: You said you knew how this ended.
Me: Yeah, the little boy is dead. That's why he sees dead people, right?
Friend: *sigh*

And that is how The Sixth Sense was actually spoiled for me.
**End of SPOILERS**

As reviewers, I think most of us agree that giving away the big reveal of a book is a no-no. At least, doing it without tagging/hiding the spoiler. But what about hinting at it, or talking about something that won't make sense until you get into the book? Even my spoilery friend technically didn't give away enough information to actually spoil the twist for me.

What about hinting at specific scenes or chapters? Saying something like "I laughed so hard at the scene on the boat!" Or "Chapter 11 was so good." What about using quotes from the book in reviews? Do you feel like that gives too much away, especially for an author with a very known writing style?

I'm not really sure how I stand on this. I think when I review books that have been around awhile/everyone has read, I'm far less careful about bringing up specifics from the book. But for brand new books I'm reluctant to do basically any of the things I've asked about.

How do you guys feel? How do you balance being detailed or specific in your reviews without being all spoilery-like?


  1. I wonder the same thing sometimes. Because while I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, sometimes I just really want to talk about them. Especially when it comes to romantic relationships in books--I never know how much I can talk about them before I start giving things away. I feel like it's hard for me because I personally always read the spoilers, even if I haven't read the book, but I know other people are way more careful about wanting to go in surprised. So I have no idea where to draw the line most of the time.

    1. I generally read spoilers, too. Unless it's the last book of a series - then I don't want to know. But I love to talk about *all* the details of a book after I finish it. It's hard.

  2. I never try to spoil things but sometimes I accidentally do, I'm sure. That Sixth Sense story made me giggle. I'm not sure why but it did.

    1. I'm glad you liked it! Only I could not be spoiled by a blatant spoiler, I think. :)

  3. I really hate spoilery reviews, and therefore I'm very very vague (usually) in my reviews. I think it's crazy even to give away very basic details, anything that you, as a reader, are supposed to find out as you read, you DON'T tell in a review! But talking those things later, after everyone has read it, is very fun. Sometimes I think in comments on a post is a good place to do that, as long as you warn people in the post that the comments will have spoilers.

    1. Oh, I like the idea of having spoilers in the comments! Maybe I"ll have to try that.
      So, do you not include anything that isn't in the summary/on the back of the book? I will have to pay closer attention to your reviews. :)

  4. I hate spoilers! I refuse to read reviews of sequels if I haven't read the previous books yet, cause I don't want the 1st books spoiled! I think hinting is okay because it is kind of a teaser, and it makes want to find out more!

    1. Interesting. I read reviews for sequels of books that I"m pretty sure I won't read. Well, and even books that I would like to read. I guess I just don't mind being spoiled that much.

  5. Once in college, the professor was using the Clark Kent/Superman as the same person analogy. A student in the class was so upset that he had "spoiled" it for her.

    I do try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, especially in newer books. I have been known to give warnings. For instance, I just read a book that has major pedophilia undertones. Even though it was part of the "surprise" ending, I would have liked a warning about the theme.

    1. That's a good point about content. I would rather be spoiled about things like that, so I can be a better judge of if I want to read the book at all.

      And that's funny about the whole Superman thing. I guess at some point you just assume certain things are common knowledge? Or that if people didn't already know, they probably don't care about it.

  6. I was spoiled for the Sixth Sense too. But I didn't mind because I really can't handle movies like that. Your story is hilarious though :)

    As far as spoilers in my review, I really try not to give details on anything after the first couple chapters. I try to be vague after that. Like the ending was unexpected to me but I won't go into any details as to why it was. I have a hard time knowing what spoilers are because I think the book summaries are full of them!

    At the same time, I really wish as bloggers we could talk more about spoilers and details in books because it's so much fun!

    1. It is an intense movie! That's about as scary as I can handle. :)
      And I think the same thing about book summaries. Some of them give away things that happen 100 or so pages into the book. And then I feel like the beginning is so slow because it hasn't gotten to whatever the summary talked about yet.