My Problem with Blurbs

Yesterday, I wrote a review for Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor for a lovely website called Bookstacked. Our reviews always include the blurb at the beginning, and as I was typing this one out, an anger long since buried resurfaced.

Blurbs create huge issues for me. I have seen far too many that give the basic plot of the novel away. A prime example of this is A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas which, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored – but the blurb was a dead giveaway. In fact, I don’t think I ever read the blurb of that particular novel until it came to reviewing it. Sarah J. Maas is one of my favourite authors, and so I picked up her new book without hesitation.

acotar-fullCredit | Sarah J Maas

There are a number of times when I have been to my local Waterstones looking for a new, engaging read, and have just ended up disappointed because I can guess what is going to happen from all the blurbs I read. Maybe this is just because I read an awful lot of books, so it is difficult for me to find an original idea; or maybe the blurbs are just too revealing. I hate it when I pick up a new book, turn it over, and can predict exactly what is going to happen. It’s a major turn-off for me, and usually leads me to not buying the book – something not very helpful in the eyes of the bookseller/publisher/author.

In my opinion, a blurb needs to entice the reader. Much like the first line or page of a novel, it needs to intrigue and engage, and most importantly, encourage you to read on. It needs to outline the theme of the novel, without giving away who is going to end up with who and so on. The blurb must also fit the novel, i.e. what is said in the blurb must actually happen in the book. I have read too many books expecting one thing, for it to never happen at all. False advertising maybe? Don’t put my hopes up for something that isn’t there, it simple leads to a disappointing and frustrating experience for everyone involved – especially when this influences my opinion upon reviewing the novel.

A prime example of a good blurb, is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It reads:

The circus arrives without warning.

No announcements precede it…

It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Forgetting that The Night Circus is a beautiful novel anyway, that blurb is simply stunning. It gives you the theme: a mysterious circus that appears out of nowhere, and doesn’t give anything away! It is refreshing, enticing, mysterious…impossible to leave behind!

This is the kind of thing I want to see more often. I am sick of picking up books and being able to guess who dies or who falls in love with who (I’m sick of being able to guess all of this three chapters into the novel as well, but that is an issue for another time).

Give me mystery. Give me intrigue. I am always in need of books to read, so don’t put me off.

~ E

Agree with anything I’ve said here? Let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts on blurbs – if it’s something you’ve ever thought about before; if it bothers you as much as it does me; or if you think I’m overreacting.

Read my review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone here.

Image Credit | Rachel Syme at NPR


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