Backs of Books and the Choice Not to Read Them

So as you can see from my last post, I’ve been delving back into the world of teen fiction–(more posts with specific reviews to follow)–and I’m reaffirming a lot of why I fell out of the habit of reading the backs of books: they give too much away.

In some cases, as in Cryptonomicon, which I finished two weeks ago, there is very little written on the back that can interfere with the development of the narrative. Basically, there are a few reviews and one quick teaser blurb that reads:

“A remarkable epic adventure of soldiers, secrets, gold, spies, codemakers and codebreakers, conspiracies, power, pirates, prisoners, lovers and great escapes–from one of the boldest imaginations in contemporary fiction.”

Essentially, it tells the reader a couple of the topics, but leaves the rest for the narrator–who does an excellent job.

However, In the case of Paper Towns by John Green, (which I just finished and for which I’ll have commentary), the back of the book literally takes you through the first hundred pages of a 305-page novel. Now, lucky me, I’m so used to skipping backs of books that I was like seventy pages in by the time I actually (accidentally) read it–And even then, I was annoyed, because the plot development to follow probably would have felt more poignant had I just believed it was going to happen as opposed to having been told. ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** Seriously, if you haven’t read the book and have any inclination to, DON’T read the following back-of-book synopsis, but I think it illustrates the point well.

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“WHO IS THE REAL MARGO? Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.”

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Okay, you can look now.

So what this means, is when I started Holly Black’s White Cat last night, I didn’t read the back-of-book (or in this case inside-cover) description, and I’m enjoying it so far. I don’t have a lot of expectations other than the basic hero’s journey arc and the assumption that there will be some romantic element between the protagonist and the most indy-hipster girl available.

Now, this naturally makes me wonder about my own books. So I pulled up the cover of my novel The Baron Would Be Proud–(this is the JPEG spread that Amazon uses)–and read the back. (Relatively few spoilers to follow.)


Full Cover for printing amazon

I’d like to say that I’d be okay with that as a reader, but then again, I’ve never read my novel without the prior knowledge of what exactly would happen.

Next I went to my current project, a short story sci-fi series called The Legend of Rock, and realized that I don’t have a back blurb yet. So last night, I wrote one. All of the information on the back happens prior to the start of the first story, except for the acquisition of the guitar, which occurs just a few pages in. Hopefully that counters the spoiler effect, but let me know what you think.

“Flash back to a time that never was: Japan was never victim to nuclear explosions, the moon was never host to man, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was only created to commemorate the men and women killed by music. A decade after the Blasts–concerts whose unstable energy destroyed thousands of lives–music has been restricted and removed from the United States. To many, it’s no longer even a memory. To Isaiah Dearborne, a young man who’s hardly glimpsed the world outside of music prohibition, it’s only a dream, until that dream is unexpectedly answered by a strange remnant of a lost era: a solid-body Fender Broadcaster with neither strings nor an amplifier jack. But as Isaiah begins to unlock the secrets of both the art and weapon of music, he and that one guitar embark on an adventure that will forever change his life and reshape the legend of rock.”

The full post can be found here: http://thelegendofrockseries.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/the-legend-of-rock-teaser-synopsis/

#backofbook #thebaronwouldbeproud #PaperTowns #Cryptonomicon #HollyBlack #thelegendofrock #JohnGreen #novel #WhiteCat

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