It is very rare for me to pick up a book without reading the synopsis first. I actually find it really frustrating sometimes when the synopsis is too vague since I like to have at least some idea of what I’m getting myself into. I understand why it is sometimes necessary for authors (or whoever writes the synopsis) to leave things pretty vague, but it’s so hard for me to hear “I can’t tell you anything, or else it will spoil it!” It can be really irritating to try to find a decent synopsis that helps you figure out whether the book will interest you, but without revealing too much about what happens.
On the other hand, it is also just as frustrating when the synopsis does not quite match up to how the book actually goes. There have been a few cases where the synopsis seems to lead in one direction, but it does not really reflect the book at all. I didn’t even think of this kind of misleading summary for this week’s topic until I watched Sam’s video (here), where she explained the prompt a little more. In these cases, reading the synopsis is unnecessary since it gives the wrong impression of the story, so it is still pretty much going into the book blind.
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I heard about this book for a couple of years before I finally decided to try it, and the main reason I avoided it for so long was because I had no idea at all what it was about. The Goodreads page gives only a few lines about a family, and island, a group of friends, and lies. Even reading and watching online reviews kept running me into the same comment — “I can’t say any more because it will ruin it.” I ended up picking it up last year to finally see what all the hype was about, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it quite as much as everyone else seemed to. I don’ t necessarily agree that nothing at all can be said without spoiling it, but it’s really hard to tell sometimes. People all have very different standards for what counts as a spoiler.
2) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This book tends to fall more into the second category that I mentioned above. The synopsis on Goodreads is actually quite long and detailed, but it doesn’t quite match up to the way the story progresses. The synopsis promises a duel between two competing magicians, setting the expectation for magical battles and a lot of action. Instead, the “battle” is more of a competition where the two magicians try to outdo each other, in a never-ending contest. I actually really loved this book because of the beautiful writing style and the incredible cast of characters, but I was thrown off because it was not at all what I expected from the synopsis. The book is much slower-paced and more character-driven than expected, and the duel is not really what I would have had in mind when hearing the word “duel.” I would still highly recommend this book, but be warned that the synopsis may be a little misleading.
3) The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
I am currently struggling my way through this book because of its misleading synopsis. This book is about a man who slaps a child who is not his own during a barbecue, and the aftermath of the slap for the adults who were there. I was under the impression that this book would be a Jodi Picoult or Liane Moriarty-style contemporary, possibly involving a court case or some kind of ethical dilemma. Instead, this book focuses surprisingly little on the slap itself. Although I knew that the book was more about the aftermath, I was still surprised to find how small a role the BBQ actually played. The book instead tries to flesh out all of the adult characters, but they are all quite unlikable and it is sometimes tough to understand how they are relevant to the rest of the story. This book was definitely not what I expected at all.
4) Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
I read this book fairly recently, and it was another case where I thought the synopsis was a little misleading. This book is about two boys who form an online friendship, but cannot meet in real life because of their strange medical conditions. Ollie is allergic to electricity and suffers from debilitating seizures if he comes in contact with it, and Moritz uses a pacemaker and also has incredible echolocation abilities due to being born blind. When I first picked this book up, I was led to believe that it was a fairly typical contemporary, social media-focused book, but it actually had a lot more of a sci-fi element to it. Since I went into it without knowing or expecting that, I found the sci-fi aspects very off-putting at first because it made the story so unrealistic.
5) The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
I actually did not go into this book blind, and given that it has been out for 3 years already, it may be tough to avoid the main spoiler, especially given that it is mentioned on the Goodreads page. This book is about a young girl named Melanie who loves going to school, but the synopsis hints that there is something unusual about her. By the time I read this book, I already knew what the “twist” was and if I remember correctly, it is not too long into the book before it all starts to come together. When this book was first released, it seemed that the mystery of what was different about Melanie was a central to the story so I would definitely recommend trying to go into this one blind to get the full impact of the story. Like We Were Liars, it seems to be one where the less you know going into it, the better.