Let’s talk about: Spoilers

I’ve been blogging about books for years.  I started this particular blog in 2013, but I was probably about thirteen years old when I started my first book review blog.  (That’s 2003 if you’re keeping track.  I think it was on LiveJournal.)  Before that, I wrote book reviews in spiral notebooks and shared them with my friends.

Personally, I have a complicated relationship with spoilers.  Generally, I try to avoid them.  But sometimes, when I see a really controversial book, I want to know what I’m getting into before reading it.  In that case, I’ll seek out the most spoilerific reviews possible so that I can find out, in two minutes or less, whether I should even consider reading it.  When it seemed that everybody on my Goodreads feed was giving The Wild either five stars or one star, I read two or three spoiler-filled reviews before determining that nope, I should probably stay far, far away from that one.

But regardless of how I personally feel about spoilers, I always try to be cognizant of them when I’m writing my reviews.  Sometimes I’ll delete a 200-word chunk of my review because I think that it’s too spoilery.  Sometimes I’ll rewrite the whole thing.  It’s never my intention to ruin the book for anybody.  And if, for some reason, there’s a book that I can’t review without spoilers, I’ll put the whole review under spoiler tags with a big warning up at the top.

That said, I will never forget the time that I was accused of spoiling an entire book by including in my review something that was literally in the blurb.  Book blogging can be a dangerous hobby.  The review in question and the girl who started hysterically screaming at me will both remain nameless, but honestly, it was such an overreaction.  I had to take a step back that day and think about whether I wanted to keep doing this.  Clearly, I do.

So let’s move on.  What exactly constitutes a spoiler?

Urban Dictionary says that a spoiler is “when someone reveals a previously unknown aspect of something which you likely would have rather learned on your own.”
Dictionary.com defines a spoiler as “information about a plot or event in a movie, book, or show that may spoil the suspense or surprise.”
Wikipedia says that a spoiler is “a comment which discloses plot details of a book, play, video game, film, or other narrative content.”

All of those sound like fair definitions, but none of them really get to the root of what a spoiler actually is.  Is it a spoiler to mention who gets chosen in a love triangle?  (I think so.)  Is providing a brief plot summary a spoiler?  (Not to me.)  What about getting into problems with world building?  (A gray area, maybe.)

For me, anything in the blurb is fair game.  (And if the publisher chooses to reveal the entire plot in the blurb, well, take that up with them.)  I also think that some small details are okay to mention.  I don’t mention plot twists.  I don’t give any details about how a book ends.  I usually don’t talk about anything major that happens in the second half of the book.  My deciding factor, though, is whether I would have enjoyed the book as much had I known beforehand that this thing happened.  If yes, then I’ll talk about it.  If no, then it’s off limits.

How do you feel about spoilers?  Do you avoid them at all costs or do you actively seek them out?  Do you like to use spoilers in your reviews or are you mostly spoiler-free?