Discussion: Spoilers in Reviews

I’ve read a lot of blog comments and blog survey results posts where people have said that they don’t read reviews of books they haven’t read because they’re afraid of being spoiled. Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a spoiler, but I haven’t seen any reviews that contained what I would consider to be unmarked spoilers myself, so I’m wondering why this fear exists in such strong numbers. Granted, I’m still fairly new in the book blogging community, with my one year blogiversary coming in just a few weeks. Maybe there was a big spoiler scandal before I came along.

I’m thinking of changing things up and writing spoilers into most or all of my future reviews. Sometimes it’s so hard to write a spoiler-free review! Am I right? I think being able to talk about all parts of the book make it easier for me to write reviews and would promote more and better discussion in the comments. Sometimes when I read a review, there are things I would like to talk about in the comments, but I hold back because the reviewer didn’t spoil and I don’t want to either.

Obviously, I would post a spoiler warning at the top of each review for people who stumble over the blog but don’t know my policy. I truly don’t want to spoil anyone who doesn’t want to be spoiled. Believe me, I’ve been there! But since so many people don’t read reviews of books they haven’t read yet, I don’t see why it matters that I work so hard to write around spoilers.

I’m not yet sure if I’m going to do this, and even if I do, I probably won’t do it for ARCs. I’m not sure how the publishers and authors would feel about that, even with spoiler warnings.

Do you read reviews for books you haven’t read (but do plan to read) yet? If you do, do you fear spoilers? If you only read reviews for books you’ve read, would you like to see reviews with spoilers that allow for more discussion of the book?


  1. Most of my “reviews” are so spoiler free, I barely mention the plot (haha), but sometimes I just have to write about EVERYTHING. I always make it clear that the post will have spoilers, though. I do read reviews for books I haven’t read and sometimes I even look up spoilers (but only for books I’m just curious about and want to be in the known. haha) And I definitely don’t mind spoilers if it’s a book I’ve already read 🙂
    Cayce recently posted…10 reasons why you should read The HumansMy Profile

  2. Jessica says:

    I typically don’t read reviews of books I’m eagerly anticipating for fear of spoilers. On the other hand I often read reviews of books I haven’t heard of before or am unsure whether I want to read. I care less about whether I’m spoiled for them, I guess.

    While I logically know most reviews avoid spoilers or at least warn, I’m not always rational. 🙂

  3. This always seems to come back to why people read reviews and who you write your reviews for, doesn’t it? I personally read reviews both for books I haven’t read and are on the fence for and books that I have read and want to gush about or rant about. If I saw a spoiler warning, I would then skip the review if I haven’t read it. If spoilers were announced and therefore acceptable in the comments for a book I have read, I would be much more likely to comment I think (assuming I had an opinion!). I like the idea of having book discussions with spoilers for books that have been out for a while or were super popular and likely read by lots of your followers. I did this for Mockingjay since I read it way after everyone else and had lots of thoughts about the ending! For that I did a regular spoiler free review and then had a section at the bottom that was marked with spoiler tags where I further discussed the ending. Looking forward to seeing what you try!

    And I agree with your comment at the beginning, I really don’t see spoilers in reviews that aren’t marked like ever. I also don’t consider it a spoiler if it is given away in the blurb or occurs in the first ten pages though, and I know some people don’t agree with that definition.
    Anya recently posted…The Falconer by Elizabeth May ARC {3 Stars}My Profile

  4. I usually don’t spoil anything, because my reviews fall in two factions: fangirling or raging. If I fangirl, it’s mostly gifs and “you need to read this book” type of thing, so I don’t even get to plot points usually. But if I’m raging, I automatically put up a spoiler tag, because I’m horrible at keeping myself in check when I get on a rampage 😛
    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted…Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn SchneiderMy Profile

  5. I have seen some spoilers that lead to a different page or you have to highlight to read, I don’t think that is a bad idea! It is really hard to write reviews without spoilers!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings
    Missie recently posted…Review of Dreams of Gods & MonstersMy Profile

  6. Anya hits the nail on the head, I think. Who are you writing your reviews for? That’s the key.

    If you’re writing reviews to spread the word about a book to people who haven’t read it, then it’s best to find a way to talk about the book without spoilers, because most readers (certainly not all, but I think it’s safe to say most) don’t want them.

    But if you’re writing primarily so you can discuss the book with other people who’ve read it, then go ahead and spoiler it up (after posting a warning, of course).

    (And if you’re writing the reviews more for yourself than anything, then go ahead and do whatever you want… but again, posting a warning for spoilers is just common courtesy.)

    Most reviews I write fall into the first category, but if I read and reviewed more popular books, then I’d probably write more of the second kind.

    As for reading reviews, I read them for books I haven’t heard of before, or books that are on my radar but I’m on the fence about. (And of course books I’ve already read.) But if I’m really looking forward to a book, especially if I know I’m going to be reading it soon, then I skip the review… not only because of possible spoilers, but also because I don’t want my opinion influenced – at least, any more than it already is – before I even pick up the book.
    Charleen recently posted…Review: The InnocentMy Profile

  7. Sometimes I wonder too why I bother to keep my reviews spoiler-free if it seems that people who’ve not read the book yet won’t read the reviews. But then once in a while I get a comment on a book review about how this person didn’t know about this book before and is going to check it out on my recommendation. Whenever that happens, I’m happy that somebody else is planning to pick up a book as a result of my review.

    Occasionally I do post spoilers. That mostly happens when I didn’t like a book at all and just feel the need to vent my frustrations. Most of the time I hide those statements under spoiler tags, both on my blog and on GR. The books which could entirely be spoilers are sequels that would spoil the books the precede it. Then again, I wouldn’t even look at the synopsis of book #2 if I haven’t read book #1. If book #2 is about how MC copes with the death of a loved one who died in book #1, I would totally drive my head through a wall for finding out a major plot point from book #1 without having read the book.

    On the other hand, posting spoilers opens up much more room for discussion about the finer details of the book. If it’s marked for spoilers, and only people who’ve actually read the book end up reading your review, then they’ll be able to more openly express your sentiments.

    In the end, I think what matters most is what you want to gain out of your reviews. Do you want to be able to discuss every last action of the MC and every last tear you shed over the heart-wrenching revelation that this and this happened, then I so go for it! But if you’re more into sharing the books you’ve read in the hopes that others will read them too, then maybe you’re better served avoiding spoilers the way you have been doing anyway.
    Joséphine @ Dudette Reads recently posted…BEING SLOANE JACOBS by Lauren MorrillMy Profile

  8. I do read reviews for books I’m interested in, and while I wouldn’t want to know a HUGE reveal or plot twist ahead of time, I’m generally not that worried about spoilers. I mean lets face it, book blurbs often give away spoilers if you think about it. The biggest spoiler or hook of the story might be right on the back cover. I would support spoilery reviews and think it would be fun to be able to talk about books in more detail.

    I try to write spoiler free reviews and it is occasionally hard because I really want to discuss the book rather than write a general overview- but I hold back on the spoilers. You’re right though, if a lot of people aren’t reading a review anyway cause they haven’t read the book yet is it worth it? Not really sure, every reader is looking for something different I guess. I wrote a separate spoilery review for the last Game of thrones book a while back, just because I really wanted to discuss it and lets face it, that book is full of spoilers! Actually it was the same review just had a few extra paragraphs. That was kind of a one time deal but yeah, it’s hard to discuss books without spoilers sometimes…
    Greg recently posted…Sunday Post #45/ It’s Monday. What Are You Reading?My Profile

  9. I didn’t even know people avoided reviews on books they hadn’t read, until after I had started blogging and then stumbled on a post that discussed it. I was dumfounded-why would people follow book review blogs, if not to read reviews?! Fast forward a bit and I now realize people hang out on book blogs for all sorts of reasons, and reviews are just one of them (this still boggles my mind though lol).

    So yes, I read reviews of books I haven’t read. Having said that though- I’m a huge review skimmer. I want to know what the reviewer rated the book, the good and the bad of the book, if the reviewer recommends the book, and if I should put it on my TBR list.

    I follow over 200 blogs geared towards books and when I go through the updated ones, I first pull up my Goodreads account, so I can add books as I go through blogger’s reviews. It’s not uncommon for me to add 5-10 books to my TBR list in a given morning, as I’m reading through other book blogs 🙂

    This is how I format my own reviews-short and to the point 🙂 I’m sure I’ve ‘read’ reviews with spoilers, but I didn’t even catch them, because I’m just looking for the highlights. So if you want to start adding spoilers, go for it-I probably won’t catch them anyways lol. Just make sure to tell me if I should add the book to reading list or not 😀

  10. When I write reviews, sometimes I do put spoilers in, but if I do that I always put it behind a spoiler tag (I use this code). And I tend to do my reviews in two parts if i want to discuss something spoilery: everything non-spoilery first, then a spoilery part two under the spoiler tag. That way, people can easily avoid spoilers, and I can talk about everything clearly and my reviews won’t be a muddle for someone who doesn’t want to be spoiled.

    I frequently read reviews for books I haven’t read — in my opinion, that’s kind of the point of reviews! I always read reviews of any book before buying them, even if it’s just a quick glance.
    Cynthia @ Jellyfish Reads recently posted…Sunday Post #2My Profile

  11. Haha, I have a post about this going up tomorrow too! Great minds 😀 I don’t really fear spoilers as much as the people who refuse to read reviews for them. As long as you don’t tell me how the series ends or who ends up with who, I’m pretty tolerant because like you said, it’s hard to write a review being so careful.
    Alise recently posted…Aristocrat’s Ransom: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila SalesMy Profile

  12. To me, there is nothing wrong with writing a post with spoiler but I always mark mine. Usually what I do is write the review starting with out and then towards the end of the review when I start getting into the story more I will post it. I like to talk about spoilers because then it starts a discussion with someone who has read the book already.
    Angie recently posted…Does One Post Get All the Views?My Profile

  13. I no longer read book reviews on goodreads until after I have read the book. I have unfortunatley read too many reviews that have had MAJOR spoilers in them that were unmarked. Reviews that have actually given away major plot points including the ending. By major plot points I mean “I can’t believe … died” or “how could the author kill off …” or “I’m glad … chose to be with … in the end” etc. Yes reviews need to talk about the storyline but they should NEVER give away the ending. The sheer number of goodreads reviews for Allegiant (Divergent Series) I have read that give away how the series ends is shocking.

    I have not really found this issue with blogs however.

  14. I’m one of those who will skip a review if I am currently reading a book or if I have it on my shelf to read in the next month or two. The reason is very simple. I’m not trying to avoid knowing the outcome of the story (though I would be displeased if that happened). I am trying to keep my review my own, without it being influenced by the feelings of another reviewer, positive or negative. What I will do is bookmark your review, finish reading the book AND writing my review. Then I will return to your review to see what you thought and whether our opinions differed.

    That said, I do share your frustration in not being able to discuss the book! I try to keep my initial review spoiler free, though like mentioned before, I don’t consider it a spoiler if I don’t reveal anything not said in the book blurb. I sometimes PLAN to come back a do a second review with a spoiler warning and invite discussion. But the truth is, I seldom get back to that second review, and the few times I have done it, I really don’t get much of a discussion.

    Maybe we need some kind of ‘bloggers circle’ where we can all link up our review of a specific title and have one host blog where we can discuss that particular title, perhaps on a rotating basis. Are there any blogs like that out there…specifically for discussion a title?
    Kim@Time2Read recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Nantucket SistersMy Profile

  15. I hate spoilers for books I haven’t read but as long as the blogger shouts them out, I’m ok with them in a review. I will just avoid until I’m ready. I think choosing to hide them in a clickable link is a good option as then the person reading can make a choice.

    If I’ve read the book, I enjoy the extra depth that can come about by including the spoiler. I think just choose a policy that works for you 🙂

    And in general my main gripe is with spoilers on twitter as you get zilch warning for those.
    Trish @ Between My Lines recently posted…Bookish Chat : What’s your Goodreads Number?My Profile


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