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:
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- Not read the comments in a book review if I haven’t read the book.
- 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?