Discussion: What Counts as a “Spoiler” in Book Reviews?

Though the bookish community has been a lot better about traversing the thin line between spoilers and non-spoilers, it still happens on occasion. I’ve read/watched reviews multiple times in the past that have contained huge pieces of the book’s plot, but was not marked as a spoiler.

It got me thinking: what counts as a spoiler in book reviews, and why is it sometimes hard to tell as a book blogger if you’re traversing into spoiler territory?

I recruited help for today’s post and ask you all what are some spoiler things on my Instagram story! Thank you to all who answered, and if you want to be in on things like this in the future, be sure to follow!

Question #1: What counts as a “spoiler” ?

In my opinion as both a book review writer and a book review reader, spoilers are basically any information that gives away something crucial about the book not provided by the synopsis.

Question #2: What are some examples of “spoiler” content?

Of course, spoilers vary book to book because every book is unique. However, there are some things that every book have in common, and should not be revealed in a book review without warning, such as:

1. The main character’s secret

This one was kind of alluded to by Arin from @tomesofourlives! She said: “saying x [character] does this and y [action] happens because of it.” (Note: with the exception of trigger warnings of course!) This scenario could be applicable to revealing the main character’s secret, or it could also apply to…

2. A major portion of the plot not given by the synopsis (i.e. plot twists)

This one was suggested by a cohort of people (thank you all for responding!)

Kasey from @kaseycanread, Ilia from @ilia_thebookworm, Isabelle and Niah from @fantasticalpages, and my in-real-life friend Erin! And I have to say I agree: plot reveals in book reviews are the worst. It’s like, why should I even read the book now? I know what happens!

3. The death of central characters

This one was brought to you by Brenna from @Brenna.Elmore! (Check out her blog too!) I have to say: this one kills me as much as it kills the character. I don’t want to know!! Let me break my own heart on my own time please!

4. The central romance of the book

In the wise words of Asta from @pages.read, “if the book isn’t a romance, I don’t wanna know who ends up together.” (I couldn’t agree more.)

Question #3: How do we avoid accidentally spoiling things for readers/viewers?

So now that we have some examples of what not to do, how do we not do it? I’ve seen some creative ways that people who want to talk about spoiler-y things (but don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book in question yet), give their readers/viewers a heads up! Like:

✌🏿 Chanelle from ChanelleTime on booktube does a peace sign hand gesture when she’s talking about spoilers in her discussion videos!

⭐ Shelby from Grace With Books on booktube puts a star emoji on-screen when she’s talking about spoilers in her discussion videos!

Far as avoiding spoilers in a written form, I’ve seen bloggers divide their reviews into spoiler and non-spoiler sections! (I actually used to do this myself a couple years back on the blog.)

There’s also the classic (insert spoiler here) tactic I see on Goodreads a lot. Also on Goodreads, you are able to hide a spoiler by the [spoiler]…[/spoiler] format!

So there you have it! 8 minds coming together made for an awesome post. Again, thanks to all who answered and I hope you enjoyed reading this post and/or found it helpful. Until next time!

11 thoughts on “Discussion: What Counts as a “Spoiler” in Book Reviews?

  1. Spoilers can be very tricky because everyone has a different opinion on what they consider to be one and I agree with the points you’ve made in this post. I once saw someone say a book was sad and someone else called them out for spoiling that book by saying that which I didn’t get at all, I feel like it’s okay to say if a book made you happy, sad or even angry but it only gets spoilery if you mention specific things about a book. This is a very interesting topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading!! Spoilers will *always* be subjective. It’s kind of in their inherent nature because they’re based on different perceptions of what is “saying/giving away too much.” I’ll just keep doing the best I can because that’s all I can do, y’know? 💕

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh gosh, I *wish* I would’ve written a “stick to the synopsis” rule of thumb into this post!! That is such a great tip. I think it’s something I’ve been doing subconsciously anyway, but yes, I wholeheartedly agree!

      Liked by 1 person

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