Do Spoilers Ruin a Book for You?
I’ve seen lots of articles recently (here, here, here, and several others) about how readers may complain about “spoilers,” yet secretly, they want to know how the book ends before investing the time in reading.
I’ve always said I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want spoilers when it comes to books or movies—I don’t want the “ending” ruined for me. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize it’s not really the ending—it’s the surprises and twists and laugh-lines (or poignant moments) I don’t want ruined. I pretty much want to be guaranteed that the book is going to turn out the way I want it to. Which is the reason I typically only read romance novels. Because I’m guaranteed a happily-ever-after ending. And if I don’t get the ending I want, I have every right to complain about it because the happy ending is an expectation of the genre (just like the mystery being solved is an expectation for the mystery genre).
When Little Dorrit aired on Masterpiece Classic a few years ago, I got drawn into it. And after a few hours of emotional investment in the characters, I pulled up the book summary on Wikipedia and read it to make sure that it would end the way I wanted to—because if it didn’t, I wasn’t going to invest any more of my time/emotion in watching it. With Charles Dickens, you can never be sure!
Then, there’s the Game of Thrones series. I read the first book—devoured it, more like. Loved it. Immediately started reading the second book. And, after slogging for three or four months to get halfway through it, I gave up on reading it. I figured I’d just stick with the TV show. But, as I don’t have cable (not even basic, much less premium), I had to wait for the DVDs. And while waiting, I decided I wanted to see what I’d be missing by not reading the books. So I did my old stand-by—I pulled the summaries up on Wikipedia and read the “spoilers.” And I discovered that (a) it wasn’t anywhere near being finished and (b) I didn’t like the direction (or non-direction, actually) Martin was taking the story nor the number of main characters he kills off in the process. So I decided not to waste any more time with it.
However, I’m not the kind of person who’ll pick up a new-to-me book and immediately read the last page. As I said, I read romance novels for that very reason—so I don’t have to. Now, I have had a few authors pull a fast one on me and have the heroine (or hero) end up with someone else other than the one I wanted them to be with—but those are usually books that are historicals with a romance thread, not true romances. So I’m very careful about trying not to pick those up anymore.
And yet . . .
When it comes to movies based on books, I don’t always read the book before seeing the movie. I don’t usually even look up the summary to see how it will go. So, in some ways, I do occasionally like to be surprised. Just not all the time. It’s weird, I know.
Do you want to know the ending before investing the time to read a book? Do spoilers bother you?