Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blurb spoilers

There's a review over at Parenthetical of Inkheart. I haven't read it, but probably should; she generally steers me right with respect to YA lit, and anything that can be compared to The Neverending Story, The Last Unicorn and the Time Quartet is going to be right up my alley.

Apparently, though, the book jacket reveals a twist or two too many:

You’ll find out if you read the flap or any reviews, but I think the book would have been more enjoyable if I hadn’t known the premise before I started.

I encounter this fairly often; the most recent example being The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Sure, I probably would have guessed the spoiler anyway, but having it confirmed in advance is just annoying. Orphans of Chaos sticks out as well in this regard; the setup of the paradigms, which the characters discover over the course of the first part of the book, is neatly encapusalted on the book jacket.

The basic rule these days seems to be that anything that's not from the last third or so of the book is fair game for being revealed. However, a lot of books put a major twist somewhere between halfway and two thirds of the way through. But I get the impression this is a new thing; I certainly don't remember being spoiled for, say, Bridge to Terabithia. Most of my elementary school class was outraged at Paterson's "betrayal"; if the book cover had hinted at that the book would lose most of its impact.

Google Groups turns up a discussion of the topic at rec.arts.sf.written as well.

What are the most egregious blurb spoilers you've encountered?


Sam said...

I didn't guess what happened in Curious Incident at all, and luckily the back-cover blurb on my copy didn't spoil me -- good thing, or I would've been pissed!

It isn't nearly as imoprtant to be spoiler-free for Inkheart -- there's no twist at the (inky) heart of the book. It's just that the author takes awhile to explain the premise to the narrator, and I spent that whole time impatiently thinking, "Yeah, I know Mo's secret! Can he tell Meggie already so we can move on?" rather than enjoying the speculation.

jfpbookworm said...

[Mild spoiler warning for Curious Incident - but it's the spoiler on the book jacket!]

My copy was a hardcover checked out from the library, and the jacket copy made reference to "the dissolution of his parents' marriage," which confirmed what I would have suspected anyway.

Orphans of Chaos was a closer match for Inkheart, it seems - the explanation of what paradigm each operated under wasn't a spoiler, per se, but it gave the bits where they're figuring out their paradigms a "get on with it already!" feel.

SunflowerP said...

I can't think of any examples, but I know I've been annoyed by this.

At a guess, it comes of the notion that the only thing that can be "spoiled" is a major plot twist. From the POV of someone who likes to read, that's daft - the pleasure of reading isn't in the excitement of the twists, it's in savoring plot development as it unfolds.