Kernels of Nonsense, #18: To Spoil or Not to Spoil

Kernels of Nonsense (2)Kernels of Nonsense is a bimonthly feature where I discuss various bookish topics. This week I will be discussing spoilers, but I promise this post will not actually contain any (you can already get a sense of where I stand on this one, huh?)

Even though I don’t shout it from the rooftops, my book blog is pretty spoiler-free. I write my reviews, keeping in mind that those reading them may not have read the book first. There are several reasons why I do this. For one, I think that everyone who picks up a book should have the opportunity to be surprised. Secondly, my personal experiences with spoilers has been overwhelmingly negative. Thirdly, it just feels like common courtesy to not bellow out spoilers (at least not without a warning).

I really hate spoilers of any kind. Whether it be books, television, or movies, I try my best to keep my eyes and ears shut. One of my biggest pet-peeves is when you tell someone not to tell you what happened (the situation isn’t important), and they just can’t help themselves, so they blurt it out anyway. They clearly heard me say please, don’t tell me and yet they have to open their mouths anyway. I feel down-right murderous when they do. Murderous.

Staying away from spoilers can be very difficult, especially when you consider social media. Whether you ask for it or not, there is a ton of information coming at you from all angles. You can only do so much when it comes to blocking or blacklisting certain topics. In truth, you don’t need to go looking for spoilers, they sometimes have a way of sneaking up on you uninvited.

Unfortunately, this is what happened to me and Veronica Roth’s Allegiant. I had only read Divergent and had bought the other two books in the series, intending on reading them. Not long after the last book’s release, I noticed the rating was significantly lower than the other two books’ ratings both on Goodreads and Amazon. I vaguely wondered why, but avoided reading any reviews because I didn’t want to know until I had read the books myself. And then one day: BAM! Without so much as a warning, someone had posted a large picture exclaiming a major spoiler. So here I had a pretty shocking spoiler flashing on my tablet and no way to unsee it. First I felt shocked and then I felt robbed. I’m never going to be able to read the final two books without knowing what is going to happen and will never know how I would have reacted without prior knowledge. As you can probably tell, I’m still not over it (I have yet to pick up Insurgent).

Since I’ve been a part of the blogging community, I haven’t come across any major spoilers and I am so grateful. I’ve seen books like E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl talked and raved about for months. I was a little slow picking these up and probably wouldn’t have if they had been spoiled for me first. So if you’ve reviewed either or ever recommended one or the other to me, I want to say thank you for not spoiling it for me. I really appreciate it.

Sometimes it can be extremely tempting to share a spoiler. There are those books whose twists and turns completely define the book and you suddenly have a strong desire to talk about it. This is one of the disadvantages to having a spoiler-free blog. I’ve actually considered writing special posts that include spoilers, so those who wish to delve deeper into certain books can and those who don’t wish to find out what happens until they’ve read said books can avoid the spoilers. I’m thinking of a monthly feature for either certain books or a series.

I do understand the merits of spoilers in reviews. I’m not necessarily against it either, but I do feel it is necessary to give readers a warning before they continue reading. There is also the issue of how long a book has been out and whether or not talking about major plot points can be considered a spoiler. For example, many people may not have read Jane Eyre and telling you who is in the attic may be considered a spoiler, but it’s been over 150 years, can it really be considered one? (Notice how I didn’t actually give anything away, it’s because my ridiculous conscience doesn’t allow me to!) Is there a timetable on spoilers? A year? Five years? Or is it just safer not say anything at all?


What do you think about spoilers in reviews? Do you run a spoiler-free blog? Has a book ever been spoiled for you? Is there a certain timetable for spoilers that you adhere to? What do you think of my idea of posting a monthly feature that includes spoilers?

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30 thoughts on “Kernels of Nonsense, #18: To Spoil or Not to Spoil

  1. I think spoilers in reviews are okay as long as readers are given a warning beforehand. It is pretty quick to just say “I will include spoilers in my review” isn’t it ? So your idea of a monthly feature with spoilers is perfectly fine in my opinion. Books have been spoiled for me in the past, but as far as I remember it hasn’t prevented me from enjoying the book. (I did pick up The Maze Runner, knowing something about a character’s future in the third book … and then made the mistake of falling in love with him from the first book. I still enjoyed the trilogy though.) I think I get more spoilers for tv shows (and that tends to annoy me A LOT). The latest was a spoiler for The Walking Dead and I am still not over it. I haven’t continued season 5 yet. But I think the main idea is that at least, you should warn before posting a spoiler.

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    • I avoid social media like the plague when it comes to TV spoilers. I live on the west coast, so for three hours the other people on the other side of the country are talking about whatever happened and there’s no way to safely avoid spoilers other than staying off my phone. Now you got me curious about what Walking Dead spoiler you saw. I accidentally happened upon a spoiler earlier this season and while I wasn’t surprised, I kind of wish I hadn’t seen it before it happened. I agree with you, I have no problem with bloggers including spoilers, but I appreciate a warning.

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      • The spoiler was for the mid-season finale, and it was about a certain character’s death (I won’t name which character though). It broke my heart. That’s the thing with spoilers : you can’t unsee them or forget about them (or to sort of forget I have to wait forever).

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  2. I don’t mind too much.. My theory is that if a spoiler is all it takes to stop me from finishing a book, then that book really wasn’t a great fit for me anyway! If I really like a book then I keep reading regardless of whatever spoilers I’ve seen or heard because I’m enjoying the journey and I don’t care about the destination. 🙂 I do *now* run a spoiler free blog but when I first started, I posted a few reviews with “minor spoilers.” I stopped doing that pretty quickly because I realized its not the smartest idea if I want everyone and not just people who read the book to read the review! (I know..should have thought of that earlier..)! ..And I’ve never really thought of a spoiler feature..interesting!

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    • I think because I get so emotionally invested in characters and reading for me is very personal, I want to be able to experience books without knowing what’s going to happen or having outside influences impact how I approach them. I tend to avoid reading reviews of books until I’ve read the book myself, but if I’m not sure if I should pick up the book, then I’ll read the reviews. I have a couple of earlier reviews on my blog that include spoilers (which I did warn about), but now I avoid including them unless I feel it is absolutely necessary. Thank you for your input.

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  3. I hate spoilers with a HUGE passion, and those people who just spoil stuff with NO attention to other people’s wants will be unfollowed by me in a NY second! I hadn’t been spoiled by the Allegiant thing, and wow, it blew my mind away, and I actually loved it, even though it really made me cry. Hard. But it kind of was a logical ending in my opinion. If someone had spoiled that for me, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to read the book myself, and that would have ben awful.

    I’m like you, I don’t post spoilers in my reviews, because I don’t want to be spoiled myself… but I do say in my reviews sometimes that I would really love to discuss something that happened in a book, and if someone els has finished reading, they can maybe send me a private message on FB so we can chat about it…

    The most important thing is to warn other people that there are spoilers if there are, if it says at the beginning of a review that it includes spoilers, I have the choice to not read it.

    The only time I may have something spoilerish in my reviews is if I’m writing for the third book in a series, there might be something in my review that could have spoiled something form the first book. But I don’t consider that a real spoiler in a way, however, even for that, I will state that there might be series spoilers.

    Great topic, Alicia!

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    • I hear ya! I probably will read Insurgent and Allegiant eventually, but because it was spoiled for me, I don’t feel the same pressing need to find out what happens when I kind of already know. When it comes to spoilers in books, I think it’s about what you yourself would want as a reader of reviews. I hate spoilers and so do you, so neither of us include them in our reviews. Yes, wanting to discuss events in books that would be considered spoilers is one of the reasons I want to maybe start spoiler posts. Second or third books in a series can be strange to review because you’re not sure if you should talk about what previously occurred. I try not to reveal too much just in case someone who is reading hasn’t started the series, but it sometimes is necessarily to talk about previous books’ events. Thanks for commenting, Lexxie 🙂

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  4. I personally don’t mind spoilers. If I’m particularly anxious about the outcome of some book or show, I make a more concerted effort to avoid reviews until I catch up, but I’ve accidentally spoiled myself for a number of things and in the end it wasn’t so bad. I think it’s courtesy to warn that there may be spoilers if they are for major plot moments, but the “line” for spoilers is so different for so many people…I’ve seen people whine about spoilers from information written in the blurb on the back of the book! So you can’t make everyone happy. I would rather write reviews that pertain fully to the book than to make vague statements about things I can’t really talk about. It’s different for every book, though.

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    • I’ve never heard anyone complain about spoilers on book blurbs, but I think that might be taking the idea of a spoiler to an extreme. How can they possibly know if they may be interested in reading the book if they don’t first read what it’s about? While I prefer to write reviews without spoilers and you like the idea of being able to include key plot points in yours, I think we both agree that letting readers know beforehand is best.

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  5. I’m in the middle on this one. I think that sometimes a spoiler is necessary if it determines why I felt a certain way about a book. At the same time, I don’t want to ruin books for people like yourself who don’t want to know the twists and turns. If a book has been out for a long time (as in your Jane Eyre example), I wouldn’t feel bad telling you who was in the attic. But in the case of Gone Girl, I made sure to say explicitly that there would be spoilers in my reviews. I like the idea of having a separate page or post for the spoilers. That might be something I look into in the future because I’d hate to be stabbed with your scissors.

    Happy Reading!

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    • Lol. I tell ya, people who purposefully spoil things for you push my buttons to the point that that gif isn’t really an exaggeration. I usually don’t consider spoilers for classics to be spoilers because they have been around for so long that many of them are well-known. Everyone knows Romeo and Juliet die at the end or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy end up together. I think my Gone Girl review would have been a little different if I included spoilers, but I always appreciate when bloggers warn readers before they reveal too much. I’m much more likely to read reviews that include spoilers after I’ve read the book. Thanks for the comment and happy reading to you too!

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      • I tend to read book reviews if I’ve seen a lot about a book or if I’ve read it myself. The former I don’t want reviews, the later I welcome them. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

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  6. I’m ok with spoilers as long as there is a clear warning beforehand. If I feel I can adequately get my views on a book across without spoilers then I try not to include them, but sometimes I just have to. And at the end of the day, my blog is for me, so if I want to rant about something spoilery, I will. But there will be a warning!
    I definitely feel you about Allegiant. When it came out I didn’t get on social media of any kind until I read it, just because I heard of other people getting spoiled that way.

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    • I completely understand needing to discuss spoilers for certain books when reviewing. I always appreciate a warning because I personally like to avoid them especially when it comes to books that I’m extremely invested in. I think spoilers provide a different kind of discussion among bloggers and readers that isn’t available when your reviews are spoil-free. They both have their merits and I love having a choice of which to read.

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  7. Just before seeing this post, I was looking at new releases and remembered that The Ruby Circle (the last book in the Bloodlines series) is coming out very soon. It sucks, for me, because I haven’t quite finished Vampire Academy and it seems like I ALWAYS come across spoilers for these books. So I’m pretty much going to avoid all social media from Feb. 10 until I can get around to the series, or at least until some time has passed and the excitement stops.

    I definitely agree in that I HATE being spoiled. Very rarely, usually if I’m unsure I’ll read a series, I’ll go looking for spoilers myself. And I don’t think it’s a big deal when there’s a warning – but it seriously has to be a huge, can’t-be-missed sort of thing, because with my luck my eyes will skip over everything, right down to the spoiler, THEN see the spoiler notice towards the top. (This has happened before. I don’t know why my eyes wander like they’re SEARCHING for what I don’t want to know yet.)

    However, I have thought about having a “spoiler section” in my reviews, just so I can get more in-depth about the ending and things that happen. It would have a giant header announcing that it contained spoilers, though!

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    • Spoilers are just so hard to avoid! Honestly, there were a couple of books I read as soon as they were released last year because I was afraid I would accidentally stumble upon a spoiler. I usually like to take my time reading books in a series because I know I’ll have to wait an entire year for the next book, but spoilers make it almost impossible.

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  8. I hate spoilers with a burning passion! Sometimes I include spoilers in my reviews, but they are always hidden and there are warnings – since I hate being spoiled so much, I try my hardest to make sure I don’t accidentally spoil anyone else.
    I think the biggest issues I’ve had with spoilers are from Tumblr and about TV shows (I can feel my blood boiling already just thinking of some of these instances) but I’ve also been spoiled in comments on reviews, and sometimes in threads on Goodreads (eg. I was in a thread about something completely unrelated to the Vampire Academy series, but came across a huge spoiler for it).
    I saw this mentioned in one of the comments above, but I have to admit that I’ve complained about spoilers in blurbs before! I think it may have been for the Obsidian books? Anyway, I remember that the blurbs for some book series gave away the entire events of the novel, which I thought was very stupid!

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    • Tumblr is the worst! With all those gifs floating around your dash! I always have to avoid tumblr on the nights my shows are on until I’ve watched them, especially when people you follow like to live blog the show. The blurbs you mentioned remind me of those movie trailers that go on for ages and by the time they are done, you are pretty sure you just watched the whole movie!

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  10. Excellent post. I personally hate major plot spoilers, and try my best to write reviews that don’t contain them. It’s hard to write a review without disclosing some obvious information (if you loved the love interest, if a certain part made your blood boil but you don’t reveal why), I think in that way you can intrigue the reader of your review, but not disclose information that would spoil any shock, surprise or swoons. Some people even count those things as spoilers, but I couldn’t write a review without including them. I heard Allegiant was spoiled for a lot of people, and that’s sad. I have to say, I enjoyed it a lot more than many seem to. My heart raced, my mind raced, sure I was angry too, but I LOVED that a book could make me feel that way. It’s the same sort of reaction I had to Gone Girl, though plot arcs annoy me, the fact a book can do that means I’m super invested and I give brownie points for that. In the case of Allegiant, knowing what happens would definitely spoil those feelings, and because the build-up isn’t there, that would definitely reduce my enjoyment of the book. I thought the community was very good at protecting We Were Liars, and I loved that we did that for each other! R x

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    • This is an excellent point, being able to discern between minor spoilers and major spoilers. I think it’s safe to describe why you don’t like a character because of certain personality traits without revealing what action in the book reinforces this idea. I think anything the synopsis touches on is fair game in my opinion. Eventually when I do finish the Divergent series, I’ll most likely be less harsh than those who experienced it at the time since I have had years to mull over what occurs. I definitely think book bloggers deserve a pat on the back when it comes to We Were Liars. Gone Girl was out far longer and I had an inkling about what was coming because you hear whispers here and there, but with We Were Liars, I went into it blind and enjoyed it more because of this.

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  13. I always alert people to spoilers in my reviews, because sometimes I just can’t avoid posting spoilers, especially if I am reviewing a book from a series, if you haven’t reviewed the rest of the series then you kind of have to spoil a little so people will understand what you are talking about in your review, or if you have been reviewing a whole series, it’s impossible to completely avoid spoilers from previous books, even though your readers may not have read the series yet. I make sure I always highlight the spoilers though as it annoys me to no end if people include spoilers in their reviews without alerting me to it.
    With TV I go actively searching for spoilers, because I’m impatient like that!

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    • I’m not sure I really count these as spoilers when discussing series. I think it’s rather odd to read a review of a second book if you haven’t read the first. I actively avoid TV spoilers, I shun pretty much all electronics until I’ve seen a particular episode.

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