Book Spoilers in Synopsis

I’ll do almost anything to avoid spoilers. I’ll even skip over reading a book’s synopsis to avoid the smallest of spoilers. A book’s synopsis can give away what happens in the first few chapters – that can be too much for me since I like going into books completely blind.

Let’s take the synopsis of An Ember in the Ashes as an example:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

From this synopsis, we already know a few things will happen:

AnEmberInTheAshes

  • We know that Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, instead of dying immediately.
  • We know that Laia joins the rebels.
  • We know that Laia decides to spy for the rebels by going undercover in the academy, and we could deduce from the first three words of the synopsis that she’s going as a slave.
  • We know that Elias meets Laia, which means that he didn’t actually run away at the beginning of the book.

I didn’t read this synopsis before I read An Ember in the Ashes, and I’m incredibly glad that I didn’t. I was on-edge from the beginning of the book, not knowing what was going to happen. If I had read the synopsis, I would’ve already known the first few chapters of the book. In that case, I don’t think I would’ve been as quickly immersed in the story.

 

I stopped reading book synopses once I graduated high school and entered college. I had too many reading experiences in high school where I thought the first few chapters were redundant because the synposis basically summed up what happened. Ever since I stopped reading synopses, my reading experience became so much more enjoyable. I’m now able to read the first five chapters without thinking “yeah, yeah, tell me something I didn’t already learn in the 250 words on the back cover.

I skip over synopses for every book except for ones that I’m asked to review. This is only because I need to have a sense of whether or not the book is suited for me before I accept it. Even then though, I skim the synopsis just to get a general idea of the book.

 

Is there possibly an issue of how synopses are written? NeverNever

I know that not all book synopses contain spoilers, and some are purposefully vague. For instance, here’s the synopsis of Never Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher:

Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen.
Complete strangers since this morning.
He’ll do anything to remember. She’ll do anything to forget.

I actually read the synopsis before starting this novella because I could tell from a glance that it was short and vague. I had no clue what was going to happen going into the story still, and I think that made the plot even more intriguing.

However, not all book synopses are vague, and I think a lot of them give away surprise factors that are supposed to engage the reader in the beginning part of the book. Then again, I understand that these descriptive synopses are necessary to attract readers. Maybe Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher could get away with a vague synopsis because they’re both established, popular authors?

 

So, how do I find books to read if I don’t read synopses?

I usually rely on Goodreads or recommendations from other book lovers. On Goodreads, I’ll look at the star rating and go down to the review section if it’s higher than 4/5 stars. Then, I’ll assess the general consensus on the negative aspects of the book in the reviews. I’ll typically add the book to my Goodreads to-read shelf if I decide that I can overlook the negative parts of the book.

I also love receiving book recommendations from other book lovers, so when people personally recommend books to me, I’ll eventually pick them up (unless they’re horror, which I’m too much of a wuss to read). So please, recommend books to me! 🙂

 

Recently, Trisha from Bookish Ludatrish had a post called “The Cover Challenge.” (Side note: In addition to that post, you should also check out Trisha’s whole blog. She’s only been book blogging for a couple of months, but she already has a lot of great reviews posted.) Basically, Trisha decided to start a challenge of going down to the bookstore and buying a book based off of just its cover. No reading the synopsis, no looking the book up, just the book cover. I thought this was a really interesting challenge – I definitely want to do it myself one day. When I was reading this post though,  I couldn’t help but wonder if I’m the only one who regularly skips over reading synopses.

Maybe this is something that’s unique to me? I have an aversion to any sort of book spoilers…
In addition to ignoring a book’s synopsis, I will also:

  1. Completely avoid book reviews with any spoiler warnings, and read carefully for any signs of a potential book spoiler even in a non-spoiler review.
  2. Not read the comments in a book review if I haven’t read the book.
  3. Skip through BookTube videos to avoid the BookTuber’s thoughts on books that are on my TBR list.

 

Tell me your stance on reading a book’s synopsis! Do you also avoid reading them? Do you always read them? Is there any particular book synopsis that bothers you because it gives too much away?

47 thoughts on “Book Spoilers in Synopsis

  1. Ishita

    I pretty much either skim through or skip the synopsis completely .. I think it is only after I started taking part in book tours and review requests that I decided to not skip it entirely , but just skim through it to get a general idea.
    Sometimes the synopsis is really long and continues into the back cover.. I have found them to be the most spoiler-ish of all.. I try to just read the first few lines and avoid the rest …
    If I have to talk about it genre-wise, I feel like the synopsis for historical fiction/family sagas ends up revealing a lot. Lol… I personally feel synopsis for murder mysteries and psych thrillers are the best!

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      I’m glad I’m not the only one!

      I totally agree – those really long synopses are filled with details on the book. That’s so interesting! I hadn’t thought about different genres. Now that you mention it, I would say historical fiction and fantasy tend to reveal a good chunk of the beginning of the book. I find that contemporary can actually be pretty good at being vague, along with mystery and thrillers as you mentioned!

  2. rantandraveaboutbooks

    I agree with you. Sometimes, the synopsis gives too many details, which makes me not want to read the book. Never Never was the kind of book that even after I had read all three I still was confused. Did you find that series to be a bit odd as far as the overall premise? It almost felt as though the books had no real purpose.

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      I think Never Never relied on the mystery to carry the series and garner interest. The mystery definitely hooked me and made it enjoyable, at least until the ending was revealed and was very underwhelming. As I mentioned in my book review and book discussion on Never Never, I actually didn’t read past the first novella because I heard the ending was such a disappointment. I agree – the books didn’t seem to have much of a purpose in retrospect, but I still thought the series was enjoyable overall because of the fast pace and mystery.

  3. Elysa The Biblioblogger

    I find myself reading them, but I’m always unhappy about it for the reasons you state. I normally find books by browsing shelves, so it’s a hard habit to break no matter how much it annoys me. I’ve been reading mostly academic assignments for the past couple years, and I started reading introductions after I finish the actual in order to avoid spoilers. I also avoid reviews and comments until after I have read it.

      1. Elysa The Biblioblogger

        I do. Reading the first few pages is my favorite way to decide because it gives me an idea of the author’s voice and how hooked I am on the story. I browse by section, so picking off cover/title works out well a lot of the time.

  4. raquelbookish

    I do exactly the same, and when I read some comments or synopsis by accident I try to do my best to forget all about it. I prefer to start a book knowing as less as possible about it, otherwise, as you said, reading the introductory chapters of the book might be pointless and to me the introductory chapters are the most interesting part of the book!

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      I also try my best to forget things if I accidentally come across small spoilers! My main method is to just delay reading the book, hoping that I’ll forget what I read in a couple months time. It works pretty well for me!

  5. booksblurbsandbeyond

    I love that you don’t spoil yourself. I can’t live without spoilers. I always check out reviews and sometimes look for spoilers. I just started Six of Crows and it is the only book I’ve picked without knowing anything about it. I haven’t read The Grisha Trilogy either so I went in completely blank. It’s exhilarating, I think I might do it more often.

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      I highly recommend going into books completely blindly more often! I love letting the story itself slowly build the world and plot for me, instead of already having a pre-set vision before starting the book. Let me know if you keep on doing that – I would love to hear your experiences!

  6. mudandstars

    Wow, the synopsis for Ember in the Ashes tells so much of the story – I feel like I don’t even need to read it haha. I love the idea of going into a book completely blind! I do tend to read the blurb, just because I’m quite fussy when I’m choosing books, but I really like going for books which have a really vague description, as it’s always more exciting when things are unexpected. I also skip booktube videos and reviews for books I’m planning to read… I have been spoiled for twists too any times in the past!

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      The synopsis for An Ember in the Ashes does give away parts of the beginning, but I would still recommend reading the book! It’s a really great story.

      You should try out going into books completely blind! It can be a lot of fun.

      1. mudandstars

        I’ve heard good things about it! I’ll definitely check it out at some point 🙂 I’ll probably have forgotten the synopsis by the time I get round to it anyway, because my TBR is soooo long haha!

  7. Ioana @ booksreenchanted

    You are so brave! I *wish* I could just dive straight in and allow myself to get lost in the story more frequently, but I usually tend to read everything about a book before deciding to tackle it (including spoilers! sometimes I seek them out on purpose). Still, my most magical finds were those I didn’t over-analyze before reading. So, you have given me some new motivation! Thank you for this thoughtful post!

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      Haha, I don’t know if I would say it’s bravery – I just have low patience for repetition. I’d much prefer figuring out plot point myself rather than reading them through a book’s synopsis first.

      No problem at all! I’m so glad you found this post helpful. Keep me updated with how things go for you!

  8. Bookish Ludatrish

    Aww Thanks Jorelene for the mention 🙂
    I agree with the An Ember in the Ashes. I was actually looking for what was said in the synopsis WHILE reading. And when you actually get to those parts, you sit there and go meeeeh. It definitely takes away from the book. (The book was still very good, haha >__>)

    I wish all book synopsis’s were vague. The example you provided with Never Never was perfect. You get an idea but its very open-ended. But you made a good point, if there are authors who aren’t as established as Colleen and Tarryn, would we still be interested? I would think so. For example, during the Cover Challenge, I just saw the pretty cover of Wink Poppy Midnight and sprawled in front was “A hero. A villain. A liar. Who’s who?”. Hook, line, and sinker. I haven’t read any of April Tucholke’s stories before and had no idea who she was, but that incredibly vague synopsis grabbed my attention. I guess it depends on the person.

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      Haha, no problem at all!

      That’s a great point! The example that you gave for Wink Poppy Midnight definitely intrigues people passing by it, and I would probably check it out if I saw it at a bookstore or library. That being said though, I think it’s harder to have attractive, vague synopses for genres other that mystery/suspense. For instance, fantasy books might sound the same if they all had vague synopses. Therefore, it would be harder for newer authors to stand out. What are your thoughts on that?

  9. Bookish Ludatrish

    You’re right, mystery already has that appeal of ‘what’s going to happen’ so leaving little to no detail is perfect for that genre. I didn’t even think about it until you mentioned it, but yes, it definitely will be harder for fantasy novels to attract readers with vague synopsis’s. Majority of fantasy novels revolve around magic and conflict 99.98% of the time (still my favorite genre though <3). That does circle back to what you said in your post, synopsis's tend to give away too much information. Why can't they scrap the surface and let us dive right into the book? 🙁

  10. becanix

    I want to stop reading the synopsis also because you get more out of the book when you do. I wasn’t sure how to do that but going and checking out the books rated on Goodreads is a great idea! I’m going to have to start doing that!

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      I definitely think the surprise factor and not knowing what was going to happen in An Ember in the Ashes was part of what made me like the book so much! Maybe you can try doing that when you read your next book to see if that makes the book more enjoyable for you!

  11. veeshee

    I honestly love your blog and I definitely agree about what you were saying about synopses; most of them just give you way too much information to the point where the story itself has no surprise left!
    On a side note, I was wondering if you could give me some tips on how to make my own blog better in terms of getting more followers and more comments on it? I’m fairly new but I love how responsive your fanbase is and would love to be able to do something like this for my own book review blog! Any tips you could give would be super duper appreciated!!!

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      Aww, thank you so much!

      I’m pretty new myself since I only started this blog two months ago. I spend A LOT of time interacting with other book bloggers, such as by commenting on their blog posts and speaking to them on Twitter. I don’t do this just to gain more followers and more comments on my posts – I just really enjoy getting involved in the community since everyone is very friendly and we all share the same passion. Although I don’t do that for the aim of increasing my blog stats, I guess followers and comments comes with immersing yourself in the book blogging community.

      I’m beyond grateful that so many people have decided to follow me and interact with me on my own blog posts – I don’t have any special formula for it or anything though. I would say to just focus on doing what you love (which is book blogging, I’m assuming), and to interact with bloggers with similar interest. I hope this was somewhat helpful!

      1. veeshee

        I totally get that! I guess I just want to get more interactions going on my blog because I truly want to discuss reviews with other people but I just don’t know how! I will definitely consider using Twitter… I’ve never had a Twitter account but if it helps generate more discussion then I’m down for it!

  12. Nicola

    I’m kind of torn on this. On the one hand, I actually love reading the synopsis before I read the book, even when it’s a much-anticipated sequel or other book that I already KNOW I’m going to read. It heightens the anticipation and, when *I* know from the synopsis that something is going to happen differently from how the MC thinks it will, there’s a sense of dramatic irony which, again, can increase the sense of tension and anticipation in those opening few chapters.

    However, this only applies if everything in that synopsis happens in the first 25, 30 pages or so. If the synopsis is referring to things that happen midway through the book, I find it hard to really feel invested in the story because I’m waiting for the BIG EVENT to happen. But knowing that that BIG EVENT will happen 25 pages in can, for me, make the lead-up to it even more tension-filled and exciting than it would be otherwise – which I know is kind of weird, considering the writer has probably already incorporated a sense of dread and anxiety into the narrative, but I guess I just like that kind of smug feeling of knowing something the MC doesn’t know? 😉

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      It can be extremely frustrating when something in the synopsis happens halfway through the book. I remember I would find myself skimming in order to read faster to reach that turning point sooner.

      That’s a really great point! I remember feeling that smugness occasionally when I used to read book synopses. However, my overall experience with reading book synopses hasn’t made my reading experiences more enjoyable, which is such a pity. I wish I could enjoy reading synopses like you! Your overall experience with reading them seems so fun.

  13. deepthiunnikrishnan

    I completely agree with you on the fact that book synopses sometimes give away way more than you ask for. And because it’s difficult to figure out which ones are too revealing vs the ones that are not, I nowadays either just skim over synopses or just read a book anyway, especially if it has been recommended by friends who know my taste in books. 🙂

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      I love it when I get book recommendations! It takes off the pressure of being unsure if I’ll like the book or not. It’s not foolproof, but the chance that I’ll like a book that’s recommended to me is definitely greater than if I chose a book randomly myself.

  14. Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks

    This is such a great discussion post, I love it! I always read synopsis, because I’m scared to pick up a book without knowing anything, and realizing it’s not for me, at all. But indeed some synopsis are just giving the whole story away, and I hate it. I feel like I’m losing my time reading the book then, I don’t know…the whole point is to be surprised sometimes, and it makes me sad when !’m not. but well, if there’s a book recommended to me A LOT, I might go into it completely blind for once 🙂

    1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

      Thank you so much!

      Yeah, it can be really disappointing already knowing parts of the story that were meant to surprise the reader. You should try going into a book blind one day! It can be such a different reading experience – I highly recommend it!

What are your thoughts?