Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bookish Pet Peeve #3: TMI Forwards and Blurbs

I told you this would be a very irregular series!  I've just thought of another bookish pet peeve -- forwards and blurbs that give away key plot elements.

I don't think that these components should include anything that doesn't happen in the first few scenes of a novel.  It's very disappointing to have the carefully constructed build-up of a story ruined by one or two sentences that most likely were not even approved of by the author.  The worst offender of recent time for me was a book where a major event that happens literally half-way through the book was revealed in the blurb.  It was very disappointing because the reader was supposed to feel positively and sympathetic about a character until the event happened but instead their view of the character was already tainted and their view of the character was much more cynical.  Now I find myself avoiding reading more than the first few sentences of a blurb and usually none of the forward unless it promises to be only biographical.

Bloggers are usually very considerate about posting spoiler warnings for even minor revelations so why are some publishers not as considerate?  Have you encountered this recently?  Do you mind terribly or is it something you take in stride?  I know there are some of you who sneak peaks at the ending of novels so I'm guessing this might not be as much of an issue for you!

Relishing even the smallest mysteries,


  1. Totally agree! I don't even read the blurbs anymore...I try to read books that are recommended (from someone who won't tell me everything) or from my favourite authors - that way, I can safely avoid the evil blurb.

    That being said, I'll try to put more spoiler alert warning on my blog - hopefully I haven't already ruined someone's day :)

  2. Huh. I have never noticed this problem before, apart from, I suppose, forewords to classic novels that reveal all the plot points. This is yet another benefit to being an end-reader: blurbs are no threat to me! I do mind a little when someone gives away things about the character's emotional story arc - then I feel like I haven't had the chance to notice and appreciate it for myself.

  3. This is my pet peeve and I have posted about it a few times myself. I had this problem with the Wives of Henry Oades. The ENTIRE plot is wrapped up in the title and the blurb. The book would have been better (not great but better) if there was a bit of suspense for the reader.

    For the most part, I have stopped reading blurbs too. If I have a hard time getting into a book, I may have to peek to keep me on track, but that is about it.

  4. I agree - I try not to read detailed reviews on books in case they give away key elements, and try to avoid posting real spoilers on my blog if it's a review, (or not without warning) - certainly on contemporary novels - although I will in discussion posts and in the comments sometimes if discussing it with someone who has also read it - but real classic novels are a bit different, mainly because most of them are so well known eg. Jane Austen's novels, the heroine always gets her man, anyone with only a vague familiarity with JA knows any book of hers is going to have a happy ending when they start reading it, we don't read them for the endings.

  5. I'm with you on that!! Sometimes I think it best to just not read the blurbs at all.

  6. I never read blurbs or forwards. It makes me BLIND WITH RAGE when some idiot has analyzed the fun out of the book for you. I might read some stuff later but they really should put a warning on.

    Sorry. Got a little bit upset there. :)

  7. Interestingly, a friend has just lent me Little Bee by Chris Cleave. This is the US version of the book, and the blurb at the back says:
    'We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this: (a few brief lines)...Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds."

    No idea whether the UK version is the same, I'll have to check. But is this a genuine attempt at trying not to spoil it, or a cynical way of creating extra mystery and persuasion to buy the book?

  8. LJ - It's much easier to not read blurbs when you're in a community that cares enough to not spoil books! Spoiler alerts and careful summaries are much appreciated.

    Jenny - It's true. Sometimes people think that plot is the only aspect to a book that can be spoiled.

    Kathy - Yeah, sometimes I wonder about titles that give too much away. What's the point then?

    Tracy - If I already have a book on my TBR list and a review comes up from someone else, I will usually just scroll to the bottom and look for the reader's opinion. If it's really good, I'll read the book sooner than later. And yeah, classics are tough but there are still some that are surprising!

    Jenners - I wonder what they are thinking when they write them up.

    Paige - I try to keep books face up around the house because I'm a compulsive reader and will read the blurb in passing even if I don't want to.

    Tracy - Yeah, that sounds a bit gimmicky. The blurb should just be the "few brief lines" ALL of the time. But at least they didn't spoil it, I guess. :)