Lets Talk : How Do You Feel About Spoilers In Reviews?

I haven’t done a long original written post in a while so figuring it’s time! These early winter months have been having me feel like a ball of “blah” versus the much more frenzied and impassioned late summer/early fall month. It’s probably just the weather and some fatigue. But regardless, I am pushing myself to talk about a topic that I’m VERY curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on!

a. How much do you reveal in your reviews? Do you write spoiler reviews, non-spoiler reviews, or a combo of both?

I strive to keep my reviews spoiler-free. A few revealing details may sneak in there given the longer nature I favor in review writing, but it seems like a safe bet that whatever a Goodreads or Amazon summary entails should be fine to expand upon when reviewing. Its shocking sometimes how detailed those blurbs can get, even ones on the backs of books.

This can be challenging where series are concerned. Do I just assume a reader has read book one when writing a review for book two? Should I try to keep it restrained or go all-out when discussing major events from book one that might be relevant in book two? I managed this well enough so far, somehow. But will be curious to hear your thoughts on how you tackle series and/or sequel reviews.

Onto the next point, I figure that someday a book is going to come along wherein the lion’s share of things worth talking about will involve a book’s ending. That sort of happened with We Have Always Lived In The Castle. I was sitting there for a bit just staring at my laptop screen with this thought of whether I want to limit my review to keep it spoiler-free as usual, or just surrender to going on for paragraphs about the ending since I had so many thoughts rattling around about it. Also considered the book’s age and volume of reviews when writing that review.

I decided to go for the latter and mark the spoilers cearly. That seemed to work out well enough here on WordPress, though I wish “hidden” text were possible on WordPress, similar to how spoiler tags work on Goodreads when you want to integrate spoilers while keeping them hidden. So I’ve switched my policy to still spoiler-free, except in rare and clearly marked occasions.

But as a reader of reviews, I don’t go by that policy. Would totally consider reading a review that reveals a book’s major plot points (clearly marked spoilers preferred, of course) under particular circumstances. And that brings us to the next topic and next question I’d like to ask you guys-

b. As a reader of reviews, would you ever read a spoiler-y review? If so, why?

I like to read spoiler reviews of books I’ve already finished, especially for a freshly finished book wherein there might be much to interpret or think about where the ending is concerned.

There are only two circumstances (for now, at least) in which I read spoiler-y reviews of unread books.

  1. If my interest in a title is at 0.00001% and my odds of reading that book are miniscule. And yet… I catch wind of some events that sound interesting. It can be hard to resist indulging spoilers in that case. Funny thing though, usually a book becomes more interesting after reading such spoilers. Sometimes, knowing major info about a title is what seals the deal on knowing whether it’s worth trying or not.

    An example of this for me was The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Planned to never read it, just wasn’t interested. But some people I followed on Tumblr were posting quite a few spoilers and sharing their enthusiasm for various events- after finding out that it was plot twist city (could just saying that constitute a spoiler?) I changed my mind and ended up reading the first three books that month.
  2. If a book has potentially hurtful/harmful content. Here begins my ‘in defense of spoilers’ section of this post. If a book has spoiler tag-worthy events that could leave some readers feeling hurt, disempowered, or reveal a harmful prejudice within the writing; I really commend reviewers who are willing to delve into that content and point it out. No matter how in-depth they feel the need to be in warning others.

So to sum up this topic again-

a. How much do you reveal in your reviews? Do you write spoiler reviews, non-spoiler reviews, or a combo of both?

b. As a reader of reviews, would you ever read a spoiler-y review? If so, why?

c. What advice would you give to new reviewers when it comes to spoilers? How much is okay to reveal within a review?

when marnie was there japan GIF

I hope this topic is of interest to some of you out there. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts in any capacity. Thanks so much for checking out this post. ~ Kitty

35 thoughts on “Lets Talk : How Do You Feel About Spoilers In Reviews?

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  1. I pretty much agree with you on all points! My aim is to keep my reviews spoiler-free (but if I’m reviewing a book in a series that isn’t a first book, I will leave a warning that it will probably contain spoilers for any previous books by default) but I will always leave a warning if the review has spoilers in it, because sometimes I need to talk about something that’s frustrated me and if that something is a character death, for example, that’s a pretty major spoiler.

    I also like to read spoilery reviews if I’ve read the book or, like you, if I don’t really have any interest in the book but I’ve heard enough about the book (usually negative) to make me curious about what a fellow blogger has thought of it. The only thing I hate is when I’m not warned that a review contains spoilers. That’s the worst – especially if I’m looking forward to the book!

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    1. Agreed on keeping spoiler-free but finding that hard sometimes for giant events well worth talking about like character deaths as you mentioned. Sometimes I wonder if having two posts (spoiler review and non-spoiler review) might be worthwhile depending on how much there is to say. Glad I’m not alone in reading spoiler reviews of books I don’t want to read yet am curious about due to controversy/overwhelming negative reviews, etc.

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  2. I hate it when people review and donโ€™t say there are, or hide their spoilers.

    To me, i want a review to convince me to read the book, or tell me just enough to let me know if I might enjoy it.

    I want to read it MYSELF, not have someone tell me what happens. And if i did, i would go and find a synopsis instead.

    I sometimes read spoilery negative reviews after i read a book out of curiosity, because i like to know where i differ in opinion, especially if itโ€™s someone I normally agree with. But, if they havenโ€™t highlighted there are spoilers, I wonโ€™t read any more reviews from them.

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    1. I agree it’s of utmost import to mention spoilers, that’s pretty much the one non-negotiable thing in review writing I think. Glad to not be alone in reading spoilery reviews of finished books, it can be fun getting other people’s takes on certain events or how we all might interpret things differently in more complex novels.

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  3. A. I have a light spoilers only approach. I don’t want to give a lot away but sometimes you just need to talk about something and not just go Writing good. Story good. Read this. (I’m exaggerating of course but that’s how I feel sometimes when I can’t get my point across without spoiling things. lol.)

    I typically just bring something up and talk about it vaguely if I feel it is important and if I’ve failed and said too much no one has yelled at me yet. (Short story collections are the worst when it comes to this, so hard to talk about possibly dozens of small stories and not say too much!)

    Although I believe when it comes to series the sequels just have to have the past book spoilers fair game. I mean surely don’t go overboard and be mindful of people looking ahead, but come on…

    B. No, I would never read a full spoilers review on purpose. Just tell me if it’s worthwhile, and only bring up important things that would entice me to read. Don’t actually tell me who lives, who dies, who does this or that, etc that’s what I’m reading it myself for.

    C. Well, I’d never tell people what to do, especially when I barely know what I’m doing myself, hah! If someone wants to do spoiler reviews just make sure they are marked. We all develop our own style over time and if spoiler reviews work for them, who am I to say otherwise?

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    1. Thanks for your detailed thoughts!! I like that you mentioned short story collections, they can indeed be challenging to write reviews on without resorting to revealing too much or conversely, revealing too little (Liked this one, didn’t like that one, etc.) So far I just bring up the stories that I feel most sum up the good and bad aspects as a whole. Also agreed on sequels and how they’re pretty much inherently going to have spoilers about the first book. As a reader I still walk on the wild side sometimes, lol, and skim reviews of sequels in an unread series just to check if it gets better or worse and is worth what is often quite a lot of invested time. Thankfully most reviewers mention that info very quickly.

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  4. I try to be as spoiler-free as possible, even with a sequel or continuation of a series. Now, I have made exceptions to this and will clearly label it. I tend to read spoiler reviews after I finish a book ,lol.

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  5. I like to make things hard for myself so I typically write two separate reviews, one spoiler free and one with every spoiler I want to talk about. I don’t mind small spoilers in reviews, if a book is good it will still be good when you know what’s going to happen!

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    1. I was so tempted to do that too (write two reviews, one spoiler one non-spoiler) figure that if there is LOTS to say about a book it’s totally worth doing. Thanks for your thoughts, also agree about smaller spoilers especially if it results in knowing about things that will make the book more appealing/worth reading sooner rather than later.

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  6. Yeah, I often think to myself, horror short collections are my favorite thing as a reader, and my least favorite thing as a reviewer. It bothers me so much I came close to starting a thing on my blog where I’d take a look back at my favorite collections and just spoil the heck out of them and talk about them in any way I wish in an attempt to make up for all the stories I didn’t mention in a review because the word count would be insane and wholly unnecessary.

    I actually just ran into that problem with the series I’ve been going through, The Outlands Pentalogy. Literally, just a one-sentence summary of book 3 is a HUGE spoiler for a major plotline in the first two books and I was definitely thinking of this when I answered. I ended up just putting an extra warning at the top of the review stating I can’t dance around the spoilers here so be warned…

    And yeah I get the temptation is great for some people and they just have to look ahead, lol. I’ve certainly done it a few times myself, (and typically wished I hadn’t and get mad at myself) but now that I review things I like to go in with as little information as possible and then see afterward how my findings compare to others.

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    1. I figure that when reviewing the third book in a series it should be pretty much okay to delve into anything that spoils the first two books, generally speaking. Hopefully the vast majority of people interested in reading a third volume of a series have already read books 1 or 2. Putting a warning doesn’t hurt though for those who look ahead, definitely a good idea! I read your review for the first book btw, it sounds like a fantastic.

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  7. Interesting points! I try to keep my reviews spoiler free, but make sure to clearly tag them if can’t help writing about something. When it comes to series though, I prefer to assume that the reader must have read the previous books. I read spoilery reviews only if I’m considering taking a book off my TBR or DNFing it to make sure I’m not missing out on any really good plot points.

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    1. Ooo that sounds like a good idea, to check reviews before DNF’ing or taking off of a TBR. There have been some books in the past wherein I knew I would never return to them if I DNF’d, so reading a detailed review (even a spoilery one) doesn’t do much harm- or even does good if such reviews convince me to stick it out and the book gets better. ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for your thoughts!

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  8. For the most part I write spoiler free reviews as when I read reviews myself I tend to only read spoiler free reviews. I like to know as little about a plot as possible before embarking on a read. I don’t even like it when people say there are plot twists in a book because then it means my brain will be working harder to catch it and I lose some of the enjoyment of the read!!!

    There are times that I do write spoiler reviews though. I will always mark it clearly though. Big warning headings on WordPress or HTML spoiler code on GR. But typically my spoilers are for when a book is supremely problematic and I have to use spoilers to discuss why that is.

    Great post Kitty :)))

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    1. I know what you mean about plot twists being a spoiler in and of themselves. I struggle with that lol. What’s funny is that when I hear a book has plot twists, that’s usually the trigger of what gets it on my TBR in the first place though so it’s a double-edged sword to either mention it and maybe get people’s hopes too high or not mention it and risk having the book come off as boring in a review.

      That’s one good thing about having books sit on a TBR for months or years though- the possibility of forgetting why you added them and getting surprise plot twists when going into them blindly, lol. Thanks so much for your comment and I’m glad you liked this post. โค

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  9. I personally try to avoid any major spoilers in my reviews, but if there is some thing I want to talk about that would involve discussing a major plot point or revealing a certain twist I generally include a spoiler warning and then dive right in. I also agree with you that if I’m reviewing something that contains scenes or elements that might be upsetting or triggering for some readers that it is best to reveal that in the review so that people can make an informed decision about whether or not this is something they want to read.

    As for my preferences when reading a review, I enjoy reading spoilery reviews if it’s something I don’t plan to watch/read or if it is something I have already seen/read. Sometimes, if I am on the fence about a particular work, a spoilery review can help me make a decision about whether I want to give something a chance.

    I think spoilers in reviews are fine, so long as you give your reader a heads up with a spoiler warning.

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    1. Thanks so much for your detailed thoughts, it seems we agree on pretty much everything when it comes to spoilers in reviews. ๐Ÿ˜€ Much agreed that spoiler-y reviews are helpful when being on the fence about a title. Sometimes vague reviews just don’t cut it in making a book stand out among the thousands out there.

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  10. On my blog I keep spoilers to a minimum and leave a link to my Goodreads review that is spoiler free. When it comes to series like trilogies, I review the whole trilogy on my blog and link to my individual reviews for each book on Goodreads. For larger series I group three books together in one review, because if I review each book alone then they all start sounding the same.

    I will read reviews that have minor spoilers if I not planning on read the book any time soon.

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    1. Agreed, marking spoilers is so important. Especially for giant reveals toward the end of a book. Knowing these things in advance changes the experience tremendously. I’m finding proofreading before posting to be vital too, just in case a possible spoiler-y bit sneaks in during my rambly reviews and needs to be removed lol.

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    1. Thanks so much!! I’m glad this post has been helpful. My opinion of it is to do what speaks to you. If your passion toward a particular book involves major spoilers (and the book isn’t an unreleased ARC or something you’re reviewing for a book tour) I heartily recommend just making that spoiler review and clearly marking it. Or doing a non-spoiler review and marked spoiler review in separate posts. Write whatever means most to you, as some people who finished the book(s) in question might still enjoy reading your thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. On the one hand, I don’t mind spoilers myself for the most part (depending on what they are). On the other hand not everyone is me! I try not to give spoilers in my reviews and if I think there might be I generally try to put a note before the actual review starts, I think it’s only fair to those who don’t want to be spoiled.

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    1. This post and its replies have definitely reinforced how important those spoiler tags/warnings are. Thanks for adding your thoughts as well. I agree with not minding mild or moderate spoilers for some reason. Probably because my TBR is so big and knowing only vague things about a book makes it that much harder for the title to compete for attention among so many books out there.

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      1. Yeah, exactly. Sometimes a spoiler is like an enticement for me. There was this one book series I had been hearing about forever and it was on my radar but I hadn’t picked it up yet and then someone told me a spoiler about it (after I had asked them to reveal what the spoiler was to me in DM) and I was like ‘BUY’ and it’s now one of my favorite series. If I hadn’t known that spoiler I’m not sure when I would have picked it up!

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  12. I pretty much agree with you on everything. I try to write spoiler free reviews and on the special cases where I need to discuss the minute details, I make it very very clear that there are spoilers coming up and that readers should stop reading if they don’t want spoilers. As a reader, if I am interested in a book, then I won’t read any reviews. I don’t want to be accidentally spoiled and I don’t want to be swayed either into liking it or disliking it. I want to read the book with a clear uninfluenced mind! So I only read reviews on books I have read or books I won’t ever read, and because of that I don’t really care if people include spoilers.

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    1. When I started this review blog, those same thoughts entered my mind about being guarded in reading reviews since I didn’t want to be influenced by other people’s opinions and go in with certain expectations. Can definitely relate to that and try to enforce it for approved ARCs and must-reads, anything on the maybe pile is open for review reading though lol. ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for your comment on this post.

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  13. I try to use more background information than spoilers, giving as much information as I can about the characters and where they come from. No secrets they are holding, but anything that is given away in the first quarter of the book. I like to give enough information that if I come back in a year and canโ€™t really remember that book, the information in my review will help me remember without giving too much away.

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