Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spoilers Suck

Since everyone out there is probably reading MOCKINGJAY (squee!) right now (like me), or blogging about it, I thought I'd talk a pet peeve of mine. SPOILERS. And I don't just mean when someone posts info on the net about a long awaited book. (Although OMG I almost cried yesterday when I caught a glimpse of Kiersten White's joke MOCKINGJAY post and thought she'd spoiled me!) I mean when the book itself is a spoiler.

I always hate it when the blurb on the back of a book, or the cover image gives away the BIG SECRET in a book. Like for example, HUSH, HUSH:

The plot is based around the slow reveal that there's something strange about Patch. What could it be? Why is he always there to save Nora, even when it's impossible? What's up with those weird scars on his back?

HUSH, HUSH is almost 400 pages long and around page 250, Nora is just starting to put the clues about Patch together, and yet, thanks to the cover, I'm screaming at Nora from practically page one HE'S A FALLEN ANGEL!!! WATCH YOUR BACK!!! (Um, yeah, sorry if I spoiled that for you. But, seriously, the UK cover even features the tag line "A fallen angel... A forbidden love.") And I couldn't help but feel a little bad for Becca Fitzpatrick because all the masterful plotting and suspense she created lost some of it's edge because the biggest secret was right there on the cover. There was still plenty of tension, and lots to keep you hooked though. HUSH, HUSH is a great book that I highly recommend if you haven't read it yet!

This also happens with blurbs, like with TWILIGHT, whose back cover blurb starts out with this quote from the book:

About three things I was absolutely positive:
First, Edward was a vampire.
Second, there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood.
And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Now I don't know if the original blurb from when the book was first released in 2006 is the same, but again, it gives away a huge chunk of the mystery. TWILIGHT is over 500 pages long, and much of the opening is devoted to Why is Edward and his family so strange? It's over 100 pages before it's revealed that Edward is a vampire. 100 pages that I wanted to flip through just to get to the part where he admitted it because I already knew it was coming. Again, I thought it was a shame because the buildup to that moment is done really well. I imagine that if I hadn't known, I would've found those opening pages, page-turners.

Even worse is when the blurb gives away the answer to a cliffhanger ending of a previous book. You know, Book 1 ends with the love-interest missing and presumed dead, and the blurb for Book 2 - or the cover image, even - starts off with something that makes it clear that the love-interest is alive and well. I'm trying to come up with a series that's done this, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment.

It's a trade-off I suppose. HUSH, HUSH could've gone with a more ambiguous cover. Maybe something with a mysterious cute guy with a hat pulled down low over his eyes and a sexy grin, but it wouldn't have been as eye-catching. And even though we don't learn what Patch is right off, the cover does highlight the overall subject of the story. It doesn't bother me as much as say, if the entire book had been about finding out what Patch was, and it ended with the reveal that he was an angel.

With TWILIGHT, between the totally vague and unrelated cover image and the long buildup of an even longer book, I can see why it would be important to state the hook up front, otherwise, people might not keep reading.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you feel about covers and blurbs that give too much away? Does it ruin the story for you if you've figured out the mystery the main character is still trying to put together?

Also, if you're actually still reading, what do you think of my blog's new look?


Lara Zielin said...

I saw Kiersten White's post too and almost shed a tear as well. Good thing she's hilarious.

It's not a book but ... I always used to turn away during the Battlestar Galactica intro because, depending on which clips they chose, you could sort of tell what would happen. Just goes to show: spoilers in any medium are a fail!

Anonymous said...

I really like the new look on your blog - it's very fresh and clean.

Melissa said...

Ohhhhh spoilers...they can ruin anyone's day! There is such a fine line on books these days, but I have to say, there's a time and a place for a spoiler on the back. If it's a companion novel, I want to know what's going on in the other book, so I'm not out of the loop. That said, I didn't like the Twilight series after I saw "vampires" on the, I guess it just depends haha :)

Lale said...

I really dislike the sense of knowing something that the protagonist does when it's from the very start of the book, for a *very* long time. Leaving your MC clueless is all very well, but not when it becomes excruciating!

Kirthi said...

I feel bad for the authors too, that their book is spoiled because of the book summary. You make a great point!

Kiersten White said...

Oh, guys, do you REALLY think I'd be that evil? I mean, sure, I'm evil, but spoiling plots is, I shudder at the thought : )

Kristie Cook said...

I think these are excellent points. In fact, I'm having a hard time writing the blurb for my second book without giving away anything about the first book's ending. It will take some magical wordsmithing.

BTW, I like the new look. If my computer had scratch-and-sniff, it would smell like fabric softener - fresh, pretty and clean. LOL

Mardel said...

Light and airy - like it's floating....

your blog that is, :).

I know what you mean - in fact before I read your post, right after I read the title, I was thinking about when the publishers and blurb people put spoilers in - both instances. the book itself, and the sequel to the previous book.

A good expample would probably be the Dante Valentine books - although I don't have them right in front of me at the moment. But there's a character who dies in the first book, but he's mentioned in the second back cover (I'm pretty sure), and for sure, he's mentioned in the third book cover/desc. These books came out pretty close to each other, if I remember right. It was at least four years ago.

The publishers are very interested in selling the books, making them as interesting sounding as possible at the expense of giving away plot lines and twists.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yes, yes, and yes! I totally agree with you about spoilers, about Hush, Hush, and about the lines from Twilight. AND...I love the new blog look! :-)

Riv Re said...

You know what got me confused? Fallen. I heard about this awesome book about fallen angels.
In the last 50 pages he admits he's a fallen angel and I'm like "wait, what? THAT's the plot. I knew that before I even read the book! The whole plot is him being a fallen angel? Isn't there supposed to be, you know, actual SUSPENSE?"

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