When Is a Spoiler a Spoiler?
I had two extremely annoying reading experiences recently and it brought to mind a question I’ve had for a while so I thought I’d seek outside opinions.
Here’s what happened, with two books in a row. I was reading the first ARC while using the accompanying press release as a bookmark. I hadn’t read the release because I’m so spoiler averse, I rarely read synopses, except to maybe skim the first sentence and the last to get a very rough idea of plot.
At one point I put the book down to grab a snack, a vital part of my reading ritual. When I inserted the press release into the book to keep my place, I accidentally glanced at the first sentence at the top of the page.
It mentioned the death of a character. In bold. I was on p. 52, the death hadn’t occurred, and it wasn’t something I was anticipating. I was super annoyed by the spoiler and haven’t picked up the book again.
The next ARC I read, I made sure to not use the press release as bookmark. But like the other book, I dove in without knowing anything about the plot. When I took a break, I put the book front cover down.
And that’s when I saw the synopsis on the back—with the very first sentence IN BIG FONT mentioning the death of a character I’d thought would be the protagonist. I was on p. 35 and the death hadn’t occurred.
Why are spoilers being given away so freely?? In press materials, no less. As I asked myself this, the obvious answer was: Because other people don’t think these are spoilers.
Which brought me to this question: When does a plot point become a spoiler if revealed? To me, if something happens before p. 5—maybe p. 8—it’s OK to mention it in a release or review. If a major development happens after that, best to keep mum or be vague when addressing it.
Not everyone agrees with me, though. Some reviewers have told me anything that happens before p. 30 is not a spoiler. Some people say p. 50 is their cut-off mark.
What do you think? When does something become a spoiler to you?