I read reviews of my
books. I know I shouldn't but I do and there's nothing you can do to talk me out of it. So let's accept that as a given and move on.
It's also to be expected that some of the reviews are not glowing, and that's also not what this is about. People are entitled to have their opinions and they are also free to not like my writing if it doesn't work for them. That's fine. I'm not that easily wounded.
What drives me crazy is when they give plot points away.
No matter what your opinion of a book might be, revealing story elements that are supposed to be surprises--especially the ending of a mystery novel (!)--should be out of bounds in all cases. The reviewer is not the only person who will read the book, hopefully. Give another reader a chance to discover what goes on and decide for him/herself whether the execution of that story is enjoyable or not.
I don't understand the motivation to spoil a story for someone else. Does it give the reviewer a feeling of power? Is it simply that they don't think the story is all that surprising, so telling the world (or a small part of it) what goes on is not a problem? Are some reviewers merely stupid, or mean? I can't answer those questions.
There was a time when I was in college that I would review books for the Rutgers Daily Targum. Mostly I reviewed music or
movies, but the occasional book would come by. And some of them were terrible, which many years later led to me thinking that maybe I could do better than that, certainly. But I was careful, scrupulous even, not to give away plot points even in the most turgid of tomes that crossed my desk. That, I thought, was a line that no reviewer would cross.
Apparently I was wrong.
On sites like Amazon it is possible to report the reviewer and note that important story elements are revealed in the course of the review. I don't do that because I don't want to come across as the thin-skinned author who can't put up with anyone who doesn't simply heap praise upon his work. Because I have noticed that the spoilers do tend to come more often (although not exclusively) in negative reviews.
Elsewhere it's often just too late to do anything about it. But here I can appeal to those readers of this blog who might offer the occasional review of a book or a movie (or a story of any kind): Be careful what you choose to reveal. Use the back cover synopsis if there is one as a guide. Talk about the premise of the story and refer, when you must, to scenes along the way for illustration of a point you're trying to make.
But don't give away the store. There's no benefit to it and you simply come across as a poor reviewer. Spoiler alert: Nobody likes that.