Spoilers: The Good, The Bad, & The Downright Ugly

Posted September 3, 2016 by Hannah in And On That Note, Features / 15 Comments

top ten t (1)And On That Note is a sporadic feature discussing everything bookish.

Spoilers. It seems as if even in 2016, the age of the internet, there is no escaping from the horror that is the spoiler, a nasty parasite of a word that can shatter our dreams in an instant. But are spoilers as bad as we make them out to be, why are they so universally hated and what is all the fuss about them?

There are no escaping spoilers nowadays. Unless you live under a rock, pretty much anything with a major fan base will have been subjected to the spoiler curse at some point in its life. And in our little corner of the bookish world, every now and often again, it rears its ugly head.

I remember the first major spoiler I was ever subjected to. It was 2006, I’d just finished my mock exams and we were going over them in English Lit. Heavily detracted from the actual subject, the conversation had turned to Harry Potter, which had been released the week before, when one of the boys in my class loudly exclaimed how sad it was over a character (who I shall not name, considering after all we are talking about spoilers) who had died. I’d yet to read the book, as had half our class, because well, exams. Needless to say we were all pretty mad.

It’s no coincidence I’m talking spoilers when one of 2016’s biggest YA titles, Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas is days away from it September 6th release. If you’ve been living under that particular rock, you wouldn’t have known that the book has been released weeks early in some parts of the world, and after a YA author popped up on Instagram with a copy (found at a local airport), the book world exploded. Suddenly, people had copies of their own, read the book, and….were not okay.

It seems like in this day and age of technology, we have to tell everybody everything – and I think that’s where the nitty gritty of spoilers, especially in the book community, come about. This constant need to prove ourselves to other people has led to us over sharing everything. There seems to be something about the validation we get when we tell people, “I know something you don’t know, here it is!”

But spoilers are never okay. Blogger of awesomeness, Rachel from The Beauty and the Bookshelf, has a really good thread on Twitter about why spoilers are not good. And I completely agree with her – even the barest hint of a spoiler can ruin the perspective of a book for someone. And no matter how you may feel about something you’ve read or heard, it is not okay to ruin someone else’s experience. No matter what you think. Taking your anger out on someone via social media – on Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram or whatever it is, is not acceptable. We are adults, after all, and we, especially in the book community, are better than that.

On that note, when does a spoiler become obsolete? How long does the spoiler free zone last? I gave up on shielding myself from Game of Throne spoilers for years because they were part of even every day news. But when I finally watched it, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I didn’t know – and maybe because I was in part smart enough to not click on that Buzzfeed article about Jon Snow (even though ugh so tempting!). This weekend was the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, and I heard a lot of people were upset in one particular session when certain books that had been out for a while were being discussed in spoilerish ways. Does the time since publication affect the no spoilers barrier?

Image result for game of thrones spoiler gif

And on the subject of spoilers…no matter how angry you might be, it is never okay to lash out violently at someone, intentionally or not, verbally or not. Being in front of a keyboard gives you no less power than you had before. If you want to rant & rave, do so in a private format, with people are in the know like you. Or write down your feelings on paper and burn it. But don’t ever take it out on other people – especially the authors themselves, no matter how problematic you might think their works are (and trust me, I could write a thesis on this spoiler subject at the moment).


So. Spoilers! Yay, or nay? For, or against? What do you deem to be the Spoiler Free Length of Time?

And just remember, if you spoil people…




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15 responses to “Spoilers: The Good, The Bad, & The Downright Ugly

  1. We are totally on the same page. Spoilers are always a nay for me. I don’t understand how people can be so inconsiderate and ruin other people’s reading experiences. I’ve had my fair share of spoilers because I’ve been pretty behind on popular books and I think it doesn’t just ruin the ending. The lead up also becomes more predictable and aghhh. i do think it’s never attack people if they’ve spoiled you. You can be angry, but I agree you can’t lash out at people. This is a really important post and I’m really happy you spoke about it Hannah!!

    • Thank you Emily!! Sometimes when I hit the post button I’m like “Oh God, what if people don’t share the same opinion as me?” but it’s nice to see that other people do!!!

  2. I SO AGREE WITH YOU. SPOILERS SUCK. I have oh-so-luckily avoided any Empire of Storms spoilers, but I really hate it when people do that!

    This is a lovely post, and thanks so much for sharing!

  3. I agree that we should do absolutely everything we can to avoid posting spoilers. Unfortunately, all of us get spoiled sometimes – it’s bound to happen eventually – it’s frustrating, but I’ve found that most of the time I still enjoy getting to a certain event in a book or show, even if the event itself has been spoiled. As far as the time limit goes, I don’t think there’s a specific time limit, but you have to realize that once something has been out for awhile most people aren’t going to hold back from talking about it!

  4. Ooooh I so agree with this! I LOATHE spoilers. Especially for books that are barely- or in some cases like EoS, not even- released. Like, WHY? I don’t get it. I think part of it is, like you said, a case of “look what I have!” and is just petty and not cool. Part is probably unintentional, but people should really take more care, because it’s only fair to think about how you’d feel if someone did the same thing!

    As for the timeline… Well, I mean, I don’t expect to be shielded from Harry Potter spoilers anymore haha. So I guess if there have been like, movies made, and at LEAST 5 years have gone by, and it’s hugely mainstream… you can’t expect to NOT be spoiled. Not that we should run out and start spoiling all over the place, but as a reader, I can’t expect the world to shield me forever. Eventually, these things become SO mainstream they end up as part of our culture- like, who doesn’t know how Romeo & Juliet ends? Or what “Sophie’s Choice” means?

    But I also feel like I can’t even check social media or ANY websites when I can’t watch a show until the next day, or a new book comes out or whatever. That really doesn’t seem fair to anyone- especially people who are unable to consume it immediately! Great topic, I love this post!

    • Thanks Shannon!! I agree – I loathe spoilers. I don’t want my reading of a book or a viewing of a TV show to be tarnished by that memory of the spoiler because I know how it will affect the way I come to a conclusion of my thoughts.

  5. Perth Girl; yes, that one

    I love this post so much. Especially after what’s going on right now. My big spoiler, which completely ruined me wanting to read the second and third books, was the big drama in Allegiant. Not sure I’ll even bother to pick up the series now because of that.
    But it is hard when time passes.

    • <3 I know what you mean! I'd love to read the Kiera Cass books, but I just can't bring myself to after the later books inherently spoilt the rest of the series. Maybe one day...and poo to Allegiant! It's not a great book anyways, so you're not missing out on much :D

  6. I frequently seek out spoilers (and even want to know the ending sometimes). But I don’t think it’s ever ok to force a spoiler on someone who may not want it. And I think that telling someone to simply avoid the whole dang internet is a ridiculous solution. Just put a warning people, it’s not that difficult.

    Of course there are situations where people simply have understandable differences of opinion on what constitutes a spoiler; that will always be an issue.

    Oh the Horrors… or Not: Spoilers

    • I think it’s an etiquette thing, like you say! Some people don’t mind them – or actively seek them out, but that doesn’t mean that everyone does, and I think that contentious issue about defining a spoiler is something that won’t go away!

  7. I haaate spoilers! If there’s something I don’t want to be spoiled about I try and stay away from ANYTHING that could be related to it. Or I read/watch whatever it is as soon as possible. I always try and watch Game of thrones the day it’s released because the internet only gives you one day before it EXPLODES WITH SPOILERS!!

    I haven’t actually seen any spoilers for Empire of Storms… So I’m going to now stay clear of anything Empire of Storm related and read it next…

    I often don’t read book reviews of books I want to read but haven’t gotten to yet for this purpose as well. But when someone goes out and says a spoiler out loud, I get so annoyed! I think that if the book/movie etc has been out for longer than maybe 6 months then anything spoilery is fair game. If you don’t want to be spoiled then read/watch the damn thing already!

    If it’s been out for years then it’s also fair game. Everyone would already assume everyone already knows what happens. So it can’t be considered a spoiler because it’s so old.

    • I agree – something like the Harry Potter books (The Cursed Child maybe excepted) have been out for so long that at this stage, if you haven’t read the books, then you’ll more than likely know what happens. A lot of people say the same about Game of Thrones too (“well the books have been out for years so fair game” is often the one I hear the most), but I think the later seasons deviated a lot from the books, so there’s that as well! Thanks for your comment, glad to hear what other people think!

  8. Rebecca

    Hannah! *waves* I’ve seen a lot of people spoiled by spoilers, and I can’t imagine how frustrating that is when you’re following a series and haven’t experienced it yourself yet. It’s tricky, but I don’t think there is a suitable Spoiler Free Length of Time. Whether it’s books, movies, or TV they’re created to be enjoyed time and time again, even decides later – look at classics, for instance – not just the year they’re released. I think the polite thing is to test the waters and see who’s read/watched whatever it is you want to talk about and check with others before you say too much. You can’t unspoilt someone, but you can spoil a friendship 😉 haha

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