There are lots of discussions about spoilers out there, but I wanted to make my own statement about spoilers, one that I realized recently and that I’ve never seen anyone mention. And I guess I also maybe wanted to make a case for all the books out there that have been spoiled but don’t deserve to be ditched for that reason alone.
So here I go, about to play the devil’s advocate, all for the sake of defending all the great books out there that were unfairly spoiled ;-)
Why I Hate Spoilers
I hate spoilers as much as the next person. In fact, I may hate spoilers even more than the next person since some people out there like spoilers and purposely seek them out whereas that is something I never do if I plan to read a book. I literally cover the next sentence with my hand as I’m reading if something big is about to happen so that my eyes can’t dart over there because I don’t even want to spoil something a sentence ahead of time. I think unmarked spoilers are evil because everyone deserves the chance to have that full experience the first time they read a book, and that full experience includes being shocked, being awed, being surprised, being emotional, being anxious, and being on the edge of your seat not knowing what’s going to happen or who’s telling the truth. There isn’t anything that quite compares to that initial read for that reason. That’s also why I think including unmarked spoilers in reviews is rude not only to other readers but also to authors. They work hard on their books in order to deliver a certain experience to the readers and don’t deserve to have someone screw that up for someone who doesn’t want to see the spoilers.
Why Spoilers Are Actually… Maybe Not That Bad
That being said, if a book is well-written, no amount of spoilers can actually ruin it. Ok, ok, I shouldn’t make broad statements. There might be some books in which spoilers do completely ruin them or just take away too much of the magic. But, for the most part, a well-written book is still going to make you feel and make you emotional and keep you at the edge of your seat even if you already know what’s going to happen.
I mean, think about it. Haven’t you ever re-read a book or re-watched a movie? You already knew what was going to happen, but you still enjoyed it anyway. You still got sucked into it, you still laughed, you still cried. Right? I’ve re-read some books, and I know that that holds true for my own personal experiences at least. Even if I knew the characters were going to end up together and be happy, I still felt heart-wrenched when they were having problems because they were in heart-wrenching pain during that moment, and I was feeling it through them. And even if I knew a character wasn’t going to die, I still got watery eyes while they were lying there on the floor bleeding because they were regretting something in what they thought were their last moments, or because their lover or best friend or family member whose POV I was in was wracked with denial and grief, and I was, again, feeling it through them. To me, the best books are the ones that actually make me feel through the character, feel what they feel, not what I feel. And for the characters, there are no spoilers, no re-reads, no beginnings, no ending, no stories even—there’s just the moment.
And let’s be honest, aren’t most books pretty predictable anyway? Occasionally one comes along in which the protagonist or love interest actually does die, or the main characters fail at whatever their goal was, but, for the most part, we know the general way books are going to end. It clearly doesn’t make us enjoy them any less though.
My Overall Thoughts
I guess my point is, even though I will still cut you if you spoil a book for me and still feel that nothing compares to that initial read, maybe spoilers aren’t quite the end of the world since the good books (the key word being good) will still be worth reading, even if we already know what the twists are or how they’ll turn out. But of course, if a book is poorly written and relies on shock factor, twists, forced mysteries, or other plot devices, then, well, that’s another story.