The Problem with Hype and the Resulting Spoilers

Tuesday night I went to my writing group and, as is most often the case, we got to talking about other things – including books. Two of the more notable books we talked about were The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, the two biggest YA contemporary books right now. The former I have read, though I did not love it like I had been told – and thought – I would. The latter I have yet to pick up despite the many positive things I’ve heard and recommendations I’ve received from people I trust when it comes to books.

The reason is very simple.

Hype.

Thanks to all the hype surrounding The Fault in Our Stars, for instance, I was spoiled  months and months ago for the majority of the major plot points. I have seen quote after quote after quote posted online to the point that I could recognize what they were from without having actually read the book. If it weren’t for the internet, probably the only quote I would have known was from that book is the “Okay? Okay” exchange (side note: thank you so much to my friends at writing group for being so great about not revealing spoilers for this and every other book I’m mentioning in front of me prior to my reading them!).

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book, and I’m glad that a contemporary YA novel is being shared as much as The Fault in Our Stars is and that the movie is doing so well, but there comes a point when it becomes too much and reading experiences are ruined.

Two other instances, for me, where hype has gone very wrong within the past six months are Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Divergent by Veronica Roth.

The former I did read, but I am very divided on how I feel about it and I have been trying incredibly hard to formulate my thoughts into some sort of coherent review, but it’s just not happening. There’s too much I want to say about that book that my brain cannot fully process it in a way that is not rambly and does not jump all over the place. To put it simply: I loved the format and the idea, but not so much the execution. And while I truly am happy that so many people can say this book changed their lives and have helped them to become more aware of other people’s feelings and what they’re going through, the story itself can fill me with so much anger. I will admit this is not solely due to the hype, but also my experiences with the subjects of bullying, depression, and suicide. But, putting that aside until I am able to write a review, the hype is what made it get to the point where I had to buy a copy and read it, and going in I fully expected to love it and that it would be one of the best YA novels that tackles what goes on in a person’s mind that leads them to commit suicide. That feeling lasted fifty pages or so.

Divergent. Oh, Divergent…. I started reading this right around the time the movie came out in the hopes all the movie reaction posts would not spoil the book for me, and I was loving it. Right up until the time I was spoiled, not for the movie, but for one of the books (I’m not sure which one, but I’m 99.9% sure it was Allegiant). I tried and I tried to get past it, I really did, and I put off taking it off my Goodreads currently reading shelf in the hopes that I could, but in the end… I just couldn’t. Now Divergent is back on my shelf where it will most likely stay for a long time, especially after my experience reading The Fault in My Stars.

Like my friend Melody and I discussed when I mentioned I gave up on reading Divergent for the time being, being spoiled for a book greatly affects your reactions and reading experience compared to if you read a book completely blind or only know what the synopsis tells you.

I only read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins for the first time in the last couple of months. The main reason it took me so long is because I wasn’t sure I could handle reading about kids/teens killing each other even though I knew that wasn’t the point of the series, but there was another reason as well. Can you guess what?

Spoilers.

Going into the books, I knew all but a few deaths. I knew the last line of Catching Fire. I knew Katniss Everdeen’s fate.

I knew, I knew, I knew, I knew.

While Suzanne Collins’ writing did help me get past some of it (I positively bawled at one of the death scenes), there were other parts where I was like ‘oh, just get to it’ or ‘when is so-and-so going to die?’ And even though I gave all three books four stars on Goodreads as I finished each one, I really feel if it weren’t for the hype and the spoilers – at least the ones that weren’t revealed in the Catching Fire trailer I saw at multiple movie screenings – that I probably would have given them, especially Catching Fire (which is my favorite of the three), five stars. But I knew, and it took away from the punches.

I don’t believe there’s a solution to this. Somehow, some way, somewhere, someone is going to spoil a book (or a movie or tv show) for someone else. What are we going to do, tell people they can’t post gifs from movies/tv shows or discuss their favorite/least favorite part of a book anywhere because it could potentially spoil that experience for someone else? No. But I do think people need to be more conscientious. (And I’m not even going to mention the people who spoil hugely popular books minutes after their midnight releases or, in some cases, before the book is even released).

Thankfully, I have thus far (*knock on wood*) not been spoiled for Fangirl. But I am worried about picking it up because of the hype. All of my friends – both online and off – who have read this book have loved it and have said so repeatedly. They have told me I need to read it, that it’s about us and our relationships with books, and that I’ll love it. Even I think I’ll love it from what I know about it.

And yet, all I can think is, what if I don’t?

Comments (2) »

morethanbookish - June 20, 2014 @ 6:59 am

Great post! And I completely agree! For me, TFIOS wasn’t really spoiled in terms of plot points or the ending, but it felt spoiled in how everyone kept telling me I was going to cry and it was the saddest book ever. So when I was reading it, even as I tried to ignore what everyone had said, I kind of guessed what would happen based on the reactions and the feelings surrounding it. I was actually thinking “so when will I cry?”… I don’t know if that makes sense haha 🙂

Christine - June 20, 2014 @ 9:22 am

Thank you! 😀

Unfortunately I had the ending spoiled for me, and so even though there were a few times I cried from some of the quotes that weren’t online, I didn’t cry at the ending because a)I knew, and b)like you said, so many people were saying it was so sad and that you’re going to cry. And it totally makes sense, there have been other books that I’ve felt the same way about because of similar statements. Sometimes, like with The Hunger Games, I do still cry because of the author’s writing style, but other times it’s like I unintentionally put up a sort of mental block from truly connecting with the characters because I’m expecting something truly awful to happen. Which has led to a few times where I’m like ‘Um, was that the moment where I was supposed to cry? Whoops.’

Thanks so much for commenting, I know this was a rather long post! XD

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