My Love-Hate Relationship With Plot Twists

plot twist

So, I just finished a book. And I loved it. It was well-written, well-paced and kept me turning pages way into the night. Which is what it was supposed to do. But there’s one small thing that sort of ruined it for me. I knew there was a big twist somewhere in the story. In fact, I knew there was more than one twist. Luckily I didn’t run across any spoiler reviews before I read it, but in the back of my mind I was waiting for the twist. So when the twist came, guess what happened?

I was a little disappointed, and here’s why. When I started reading, all I could think about was “I wonder what the twist is?” And so I started guessing. And you know what? I guessed the twist. So on that particular page, when the author brilliantly slugs you in the face with her shocking reveal, I thought to myself, “Oh, I knew it!” While it was a great twist, the fact that I wasn’t completely surprised was a bit of a downer. I felt cheated that I hadn’t been able to read this story without any outside influences affecting my reading experience. Which made me think.

I myself have written reviews where I’ve blatantly said “Hey, there’s a huge twist in this story!” I don’t tell you what the twist is, but I do tell you there is indeed a twist. Get ready for it. Start thinking about it. What could it be? Where could it be? Sweat bullets while you’re reading because there is a twist coming and boy you are going to be surprised.

In fact, instead of being surprised, you could simply be let down. Maybe the twist doesn’t turn out to be as big as you expected. Maybe you think the twist is stupid.  Or maybe in your mind you’ve created a much better twist than the one the author thought of.  The point is, you are now second-guessing what the author’s original intention was when writing her story (I’m not being sexist—I’m calling the author “her” because the book I’m talking about was written by a woman.) That niggling idea of a plot twist has now done something else: it has twisted your expectations, and instead of enjoying a book that really has done some amazing things with words and phrasing and original thought, you are thinking to yourself, “That’s the twist??”

So I have a new rule for myself. I will no longer telegraph plot twists in my reviews. Which will be hard to do, because there is nothing more gleefully delicious for a book reviewer than knowing something that other people don’t know. And bragging about it! “There’s a big plot twist, but ha ha, the joke’s on you! I know what it is and you doooonnnn’tttt!!!!”

I guess I’ll have to find other ways to amuse myself when I write book reviews.

Oh, and the book I so recently read that has some twists?

Gone Girl

Oops sorry. Now you know. Oh, wait! The whole world knows. I did not just spoil it for you. Seriously, read this book. Just don’t try to guess the twists…

What do you think? Do you like to know going into a book that there’s a twist? Would you rather reviewers didn’t tell you? Do you think knowing there’s a twist is a spoiler in itself? And finally, have you read Gone Girl? (No spoilers please!!!)

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Posted August 18, 2013 by Tammy in Reviews, Ruminations / 12 Comments

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12 responses to “My Love-Hate Relationship With Plot Twists

  1. I had a feeling you were talking about Gone Girl! I never thought about the negatives about mentioning there’s a twist in a book, but you’re right that it does create certain expectations in the reading experience. I think I’d rather go into a book blind and discover the so-called twists fresh.

  2. Pabkins

    Oh you are right! I HATE reviews that are freaking book report summaries of everything that happened. But then I love it when reviewers DON”T tell you and they just say there is a twist – but then yes like you I start to think about it and try to guess. So I’ll try to leave that out. It’s so hard tho! haha

  3. The funny thing is that I had no idea there were twists in Gone Girl! But, I’m not bothered by it. To be honest, I think I’m just kind of… expecting a plot twist in every book now, if that makes any sense. And, well, I have a tendency to skip the book description before I start reading, so many times I’ve been completely surprised while reading the book. I guess I’m pretty easy going either way.

    • You’re right, plot twists seem to be everywhere these days. And I agree, skip the story description if you want to be completely surprised!

  4. I can relate to this, Tammy. Every time I read a book. there’s always that nagging thought at the back of my mind about the twist. So when it comes, I am a little bit disappointed because I knew it was coming. If it’s the other way around, I’d still be disappointed because what the heck? Where’s the twist?
    It’s crazy, isn’t it?

    Books bring out the best and worst in us.

  5. Hahaha, whether I mention a twist or not in my review usually depends how I felt about the twist. If it blew my mind with it’s awesome, I don’t bring it up, because I want other people to be clean slates. If I was disappointed that there was a twist and think I might have liked the book more if I’d known there would be a paradigm shift in the novel, then I’ll say. *shrugs* Nothing’s perfect.

  6. UGHGHGHHHHH that book! SO MANY TWISTS. lol. I can say, I absolutely could not see those coming. Like, even when they were right in front of me. That was a truly shocking book, but I loved it.
    Though I was really annoyed with the ending. Like … what?