Spoiler alert: I believe in spoilers!

There is something incredibly un-cool about caring about spoilers. It feels almost childish somehow, or overly emotional, to care that you have accidentally found out about a plot twist or surprise. Cool people love to wear the shirt that lists lots of spoilers from Rosebud to Dumbledore….or at least to link to it on Facebook while threatening to wear it.

There’s even research now that shows that knowing a spoiler before reading or viewing something doesn’t really spoil anything–most people enjoy it just as much or more. Certainly it can be more relaxing to read something without having to worry about what’s to come. It lowers anxiety and, if it’s truly well-done, you will still get involved in it all the same.

But I will argue that in a book like Elizabeth Wein’s brilliant Code Name Verity (a story about two young British women during World War II, one of whom is being held captive by the Gestapo) knowing the twists and turns in the plot means that you will never have the experience of seeing the story play out as the author intended. This particular story unfolds slowly, carefully, and extremely skillfully, and to know how it ends before you begin means your brain simply can’t go through the mental gymnastics of putting pieces together and trying to catch the clues to what’s going on.

Would it still be riveting? Yes. Would it still be deeply moving? Yes. But can you really appreciate it the delicacy with which it is laid out when you already know where it’s going? I don’t think so.

And I don’t care–do whatever you want! Personally, I find I can’t read a book with a dog in it without checking the end to see if the dog dies. I get so anxious about the dog that I can’t properly enjoy the book. So I do understand the impulse. And since I love to reread books, (not that I have much time for that anymore) I certainly believe that you can enjoy the books all the more a second and third time through. But it can never again be the same experience as that first reading.

I have had this argument online a number of times, but this book clinched it for me. Spoilers do matter. If you decide to read Code Name Verity, know that it will be a harrowing, sublime ride. I suggest you read it now, before you get spoiled.

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2 Responses to Spoiler alert: I believe in spoilers!

  1. Pingback: Fly blind, suggests Susan — The Horn Book

  2. I am guilty of reading spoilers. I only tend to read them when I know I’m not that interested in the book or I’m so anxious when I’m reading it that I need to know if the main character is okay. Apparently, according to my mom, I used to read the ends of books all the time when I was a kid. I had completely forgotten about it until she brought it up–which then brought up the need to again check the ending. And I definitely agree with you on checking to see if the dog dies.

    I also read movie spoilers from this website called The Movie Spoiler. Usually I do that when it’s some big pop cultural worthy movie that I know I’m not going to want to see but feel I just know what happens.

    I’ve heard from several people that Code Name Verity is an amazing story so I can’t wait to read it. And now that I’ve had you’re warning I won’t peek at the ending!

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