The Difference Between A Review and a Summary

Posted April 16, 2015 by Marsha in Discussion Post / 6 Comments

ID-10031514Sometimes I just have to ask:  Why?

I’ve just come from a post that has totally taken a possibly entertaining novel off of my TBR Pile and tossed it on the “give to Goodwill” pile.

In the very first sentence of this blogger’s “review” she has told me the ending of the story.

Why?  Why bother to read the book now that the ending is spoiled for me?

I will admit that yes, I’m frustrated and yes, I’m mad.  But for the love of the written word why in the world would someone tell me the ending of a novel without warning me?

I’ve wasted $7.00 on a novel that I’m not going to pick up.  Hopefully, someone else who buys it at Goodwill for a dollar will enjoy it.  (and yes, that is sarcasm)  But it’s not only the money (I, like most people, have a limited book allowance per month)  What truly bothers me is that I lost the chance to enjoy a novel that I was looking forward to.

I understand that we all review differently.  Some tell most of the story, leaving the ending to be read by the reader.  Some offer only teasers and their own opinion of the book.  While others completely tell the entire story in a summary fashion.  All of these styles work, and I usually know how far I can read on a review before I have to click away in order to avoid big spoilers.

But when the ending is in the first sentence of a review?  There is no time to realize that I don’t really want to be reading this.  At that point, I already know the ending, all that would be left to me are the parts up to that ending that I was told – too early.  Getting to read the ending AT the ending is part of the joy of reading, one of the rewards of a story well told.

Today, I was cheated out of that – and yeah, I’m mad.

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6 responses to “The Difference Between A Review and a Summary

  1. Including the end of a book or the main plot twists in a review is pretty ridiculous. The point of a review is to make you want to read the book (or skip it, depending), not know the entirety of what happens before you even read it. I try to do a short summary of the overall theme of the book at the beginning of my reviews but I never go into anything too much beyond what’d you’d read on the back cover. I try really hard not to spoil anything for anyone. Spoilers are the worst!

    Vicarious Caytastrophe

  2. Marcy

    Exactly. I’ll give a recap of the synopsis in different words, a bit of a tease, maybe of the beginning.. but I stop. My “job” is to get someone to say yeah, I’d like to know more… or this one isn’t for me. It’s not to be a Reader’s Digest Condensed book for cryin’ out loud.

    What profit is there for the author or the publishing house if I tell the entire story in the review? Not to mention spoil the anticipation of someone who truly wants to read that book for themselves?

    Seeing that just made me so mad. Okay, sorry rant off. 🙂

    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

    • Marcy

      I have to agree totally on a personal preference level. But not everyone sees it that way. I mean it makes sense to me not to spoil a novel for someone by giving away too much – but, I dunno. It just made me so mad that I had to write that post.

      So glad you stopped by and commented, thanks.

  3. Oh that is very frustrating. I have a few I follow who summarize the books in great detail for the “review” then will do just a sentence or two of actual review. I’ve learned to just skip over everything and check the bottom paragraph. It’s definitely disappointing to have things spoiled. Usually I’m okay putting that book on hold for a long time and with my bad memory usually I’ll forget what I’ve read if I’ve seen a spoiler.
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    • Marcy

      On most blogs that I follow I pretty much have an idea of their various styles now and know when to stop reading. This was a relatively new blog to me – but I still didn’t expect it to be in the very first line. Thought there would be a little bit of warning… but yeah, it is very frustrating. I’ll know to not read reviews there again, that’s for sure.