Once upon a time, I was reading book blurbs. How daring. When I spotted a sexy book in the bookstore, I would pull it from the shelf and, with no fear, read the whole blurb from beginning to end. I would expect to be introduced to the universe of said book, its main themes, and probably be exposed to a few marketing arguments on why I should really spend my money on it. How many purchases did I made, solely based on a book blurb?
I don’t read book blurbs anymore.
I didn’t even notice at first. At some point in the last few years, I started to read less and less of the book blurbs. As soon as I’d get the idea of what the book is about, I would stop. It’s The Three-Body Problem which made the problem clear to me. I was fortunate enough to read the blurb after I finished the book: when I was copying/pasting it in my review actually. I realized, then, that the blurb contained major elements of the plot; information that is revealed quite late in the novel and that should trigger some surprise. But there it was, flatly stated, potentially ruining the pleasure of readers who enjoy discovering a book at their pace. I couldn’t believe it, but there I was, adding a spoiler alert before the book blurb in my review.
Was it an accident? Not sure. Very recently, I made a friendly comment on a blog I enjoy reading (let’s be social: I’m referring to Dragana’s review of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson), pointing that her article contained spoilers. Mind you, I just reached the 47% mark of this book and I’m still not at the point she mentioned! It was not huge information, it was more about the (unexpected) scope of the novel. I was slightly disappointed; she was very sorry; and then I found out that Seveneves‘ blurb revealed it anyway! I always considered that all the information provided in a blurb is fine to include in a book review since, in some way, the publisher considered it acceptable to disclose. Dragana didn’t unveil any extra elements. Seveneves‘ blurb, though, does contain spoilers in my opinion.
Is it to make books look more interesting? Are blurbs becoming plot sum-ups? Or maybe most readers don’t mind being revealed elements of the story that appears far into the novel? No idea.
In any case, I don’t read blurbs, at least not past the first few lines. I check book covers, book reviews, book ratings, and especially I like to read the first page of a book. But blurbs are becoming to dangerous to read.
What about you? Did a blurb ever spoil a reading experience to you? Do you think book blurbs say too much?