On Spoilers

Spoilers are bad, right? Well, maybe.

I know a lot of people who obsess about spoilers, to the point at which I know people who’ve read four or five books in a series and then stopped because they found out a minor plot point about the next one. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t like to share spoilers either unless I’ve put a spoiler warning in place, but at the same time I think it can often be hard to talk about something without using them.

I usually don’t mind spoilers, and I’ve been known to read the Wikipedia pages for movies when I start watching them so that I don’t have to pay much attention to know what’s going on. I don’t mind spoilers for books too much either, which is why I’ll happily read a book even if I’ve seen the movie of it.

But that was until I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I’d already been spoiled because of all sorts of parodies and references in popular culture, but I was spoiled even more by the book itself. The front cover showed a pivotal scene that literally takes place on the final page, and the introductory essay contained spoilers that took you up to 40 pages before the end.

And suddenly I had an epiphany. When I say that I don’t mind spoilers, that might be true as a general rule. But still, knowing those spoilers hampered my enjoyment of Rebecca, and once I knew them I couldn’t forget them. That made the entire book feel like a re-read for me, and that’s a shame.

Now I realise that when I say that I don’t mind spoilers, what I actually mean is that knowing them doesn’t put me off reading or watching something. The issue is that regardless of that, they can hamper my enjoyment, and there are books that I’ve read and not enjoyed that perhaps I would have enjoyed if I hadn’t been spoiled before going into them. I’ve always thought that they just weren’t good books, but perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps being spoiled can make the difference between what I perceive to be a good book and what I perceive to be a bad one.

And so because of that, I’m going to go out of my way to avoid spoilers, just in case. If I see them, I see them, but I’d rather avoid them when I can to make the reading experience as pure as possible. I think I have a responsibility to do that as a reviewer.

And it’ll make it more fun as a reader, too.

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