Spoilers in reviews?

Alas, no review this week — I’m at a work conference.  So in lieu of writing about a book, I have a question for the Internet: what do you think about plot spoilers in reviews?

I’ve been very spoiler-phobic in the short life of this blog.  I tend to enjoy books the most when I know little to nothing going in — I like being surprised as the book unfolds.  My approach for my own reviews has therefore been to sketch some broad outlines of the story, explain what I liked and didn’t like about the book, and avoid describing any plot point that happens more than about a fifth of the way in.

But I’ve found that some books are really difficult for me to review unless I can talk spoilers.  My reaction to Those Who Save Us, for example, was largely shaped by the Obersturmführer, a character we don’t meet until well into the novel.  For that one I bit the bullet and warned that the review would contain spoilers.

Similarly, I just finished and loved NK Jemisin’s The Shadowed Sun but there were a couple of developments late in the book that I didn’t quite buy.  Should I describe what those were in my review in order to explain my criticism more fully?  Or is it better to be vague and avoid ruining semi-major plot developments?

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3 comments on “Spoilers in reviews?

  1. Maxine says:

    I’ve often wondered this – I think one solution could be to have a website for “spoilers” – eg the whole plot of a book – clearly marked as such. I think most people find spoilers in reviews annoying, but if one is reading a book in a series and has forgotten what happened in the previous book, it would be very useful to be able to go and look it up!

  2. Grace says:

    My solution is to change the font to white for spoilers so that it can only be read when highlighted. People can then make their own decision on whether or not to read them.

    I generally try to avoid spoilers, but I make exceptions for Russian short stories in the public domain because I was able to gather from the search terms that people wanted more in-depth discussions to help them with lit classes.

  3. Kaitlyn says:

    I really like what you’ve been doing, with a clearly marked spoiler post because I too, really hate spoilers in reviews. It takes away my enjoyment of the book if I’m waiting for a “big twist.” I generally only read reviews of books AFTER I’ve already read it so that they don’t influence how I feel about the book while I’m reading it.

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