I’ve been having this dilemma for a while now. I don’t know whether to put book descriptions in my book reviews. I personally hate book descriptions. My favorite thing about reading a book is being surprised and book descriptions usually ruin this for me. I pick a book to read based on how often I see a book talked about and it’s genre. That’s it. I knew absolutely nothing about Harry Potter when I picked it up years ago. I knew that everyone was talking about this “kid book” and that it was a kid book. I’m not even sure I was aware that it was about wizards. Discovering all that while I was reading it was simply magical.
Also, I think that most book descriptions tell way too much. If I have read one before I start a book, I feel like for half the book I’m going “Yeah, yeah I know. I’ve read this already.” And then reading it is not fun.
For example. I’m reading The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse right now and I’m really enjoying it. Here’s the book description from Goodreads:
As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.
The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.
This description describes about the first 100 pages of the plot. A lot of book descriptions are like this. Reading the description before reading this book might have made me bored for the first 100 pages and I might have not have liked it as much as I do now. I mean, what’s the point of reading the description and then reading it all over again in the novel?
But obviously people out there like them since one is written for every single book. I realize that not reading a book description before reading a book is like going to a movie without watching the trailer. (And I watch movie trailers. Yes, I realize the irony of that.)
So I have a few questions about book descriptions and I’m dying to know what you think:
- Do you like book descriptions?
- Do you read them? If you do, why? (I really want to know this one. I feel like I might be missing out on something.)
- Do they help you decide if you want to read a book?
- Would you like to see full book summaries in my review or would you rather have me briefly introduce the book in my review?