I review a lot of books. That means I read a ton, because I don’t chose to review everything I read. I try to be careful not to give out spoilers in the review. I once mentioned a plot device an author used in a book I won’t name here. It was a totally phony way of getting the protagonist out of a predicament, and I still maintain the author cheated. I noted that plot device in a review and got a nasty-gram from someone telling me I had spoiled the book by telling them what happened so they saw no point in reading. I had ruined the whole story for him/her.
A: I only talked about one of many incidents in the story. B: that incident had nothing to do with the eventual resolution (although I suppose if the protagonist had been beaten then the story might have ended).
But that made me think of the whole idea of Spoilers and the idea that knowing the end can make a book not worth reading.
Last week I read a book I could not put down. Before I opened the cover I knew the plot. Knew the characters, the hero, heroine, villain, who won and who lost, how and why. I’ve heard the story over and over since I was a kid. I’ve even taught the story to other kids as an adult. But the author kept me hanging on every word. The book was titled Esther. Yeah, that Esther, the story many of us heard in Sunday School. Like I said, I’ve taught that story to students. It’s all about … well, just in case you are the one person who never heard it, I won’t spoil things for you. I’m not trying to promote the book, so I won’t tell you which one – there are dozens of versions of the story out there. The point is, even knowing what would happen next, I kept going for hundreds of pages all the way through the epic final battle. Because this book had more than just the plot – this story had VOICE.
I still can’t define voice, but I know it when I read it. Voice is the reason I reread favorite books again and again. Why I read a book even after I’ve seen the movie. (And why people still cry that the book was better).
If the writing is fantastic, the story simply can’t be spoiled.