Random Things in Motion #24: Does Talking About A Twist… Take Away The Twist?

Once upon a time, I was looking at a Buzzfeed list-article. I vaguely remember what it was about specifically, but it was certainly some sort of “X (genre here) books you need to read this year!” that we all know Buzzfeed’s staff is fond of writing. Under each and every book they mentioned, they was a description of the premise, and why it was the bomb and why everyone and their mother and their dog should read it. I skimmed them since most were non-fiction books that I wasn’t really interested in reading (and the YA they did mention, I had already read), but then one complaining comment caught my utmost attention, and it got me thinking.

TWIST

How would you define a “twist”? You’re casually reading along, getting to know the characters and getting the feel of the story, when BAM! Something happens – your eyes widen, your heart paces, your pores open up and perspire, and the only thing you can mutter is, “What the heck happened?!” A twist is that merciless train that whoozes right in front of you that you didn’t see coming and you’re left feeling breathless. For me, this is a turn of events that the reader doesn’t expect.

But what if you do know there is a twist later on in the book? What happens then? Can you still call it a twist when you’re already expecting it?

I found this question interesting because thinking about it, when you know there’s already a twist in the book, you would unconsciously guard yourself. A twist is only absolutely effective when you’re not expecting it, but during the times I’ve read reviews prior to reading the book, and have been made aware of potential twists, I couldn’t help but think of the “possible” twists that may happen along the way. Yes, I would keep reading, but I would be 50% more attentive than usual because I’d be reading between the lines and analysing the events that happen; I’d try to see what the author may have thought of that would blow the reader’s mind away, taking every possible scenario into consideration.

By actually doing this, I’m taking away a lot of the potential impact the twist may give me. What if I pictured thousands of possible scenarios, and one of them winds up being right? I would end up disappointed because I “saw it coming”. Here I would be, a black sheep among many who read and reviewed and flailed about the twist. It left me thinking then: what about my reviews where I talked about the existence of a BIG twist? Did people who read the book end up disappointed, too, because knowing of its existence ruined it for them?

After careful thought, however, I realized that just because I am a critical and analytical reviewer and reader, it doesn’t mean others are, too. I know many people who would read a review, discover certain, vague things about the book, and still have a great time reading it. Just because they know there’s a twist doesn’t mean they would drive their minds crazy thinking what this twist could be.

Maybe it’s just me.

But one thing is for sure, I’ve read books where I’ve known there would be twists in it, and my reactions have ranged from disappointed to amazed. There may have been times where I guessed what the big “turn of events” could be, but there also have been times where despite my a-thousand-and-one guesses, I still wasn’t able to see them coming, and that, my friends, had led to a reaction bigger than taking the impact of the twist unexpectedly, because that’s where you’ll realize the author has outsmarted you.

What about you? What do you think about this subject? Does knowing the existence of a twist ruin it for you? Do you agree or disagree with my sentiments?

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. says

    I’ve honestly never thought about this but you are so right, knowing there will be a twist, does in fact sort of ruin said twist. I’m going to have to be more cautious in my reviews now and not mention being surprised or anything about a twist now. Hmm. Interesting Faye! I totally see your point and feel bad that I know for sure I have mentioned being surprised by a twist before in a story. Dang it, so much for my reviews being spoiler free!
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    • FayeFaye says

      I am definitely going to be more cautious about it, too! Sometimes people just want to be blind about twists, especially the kind of twists the books need in order to be great, you know? But no worries, your reviews have been pretty dang good so far ;)

  2. says

    Interesting topic! I think it depends to be quite honest. Sometimes I guess a twist or reveal or what-have-you and I’m still really excited because I like what happened AND I don’t usually guess things right, so that’s kind of fun for me. I think knowing something is going to happen though CAN take away the enjoyment of just having it occur – but again, I suppose it depends on the type of books.
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    • FayeFaye says

      That’s definitely true, too! Some people wouldn’t touch a book because it “sounds” predictable, but the knowledge of a twist could actually entice them. As long as they don’t get the hint of what it could be, I definitely doesn’t sound like it would be a big deal.

  3. says

    Yes this!! You have read my mind. I hate reviews when they talk about twist because then no matter what when I read that book I either look for it or am expecting it. It takes away that surprise factor which the twist was essentially added for and it makes me feel so grrrr. There is a way to right a perfectly accurate review WITHOUT having to mention how you did or did not see/like the twist dammit!! – end rant
    In other news ….I ❤️ you and your blog.
    ❤️ Britt @ please feed the bookworm
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    • FayeFaye says

      I don’t necessarily hate them, but yes, it would definitely lessen the impact of the twist because I’d be expecting it. Haha!

  4. says

    I personally like to know there could be the potential for a big twist within the storyline. If it weren’t for reviews like yours Faye, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to read We Were Liars or even Dangerous Girls. Without having a twist, some books are incredibly boring and you need that incentive that something more is coming sometimes to be able to keep reading. Having said that, I rarely mention the twist in my reviews. I’m not sure why and it’s not a conscious decision to leave it out, I just figure that I’ll keep readers in the dark unless the twist will dramatically change their thoughts on whether or not to read it. I’d actually never thought about it until you brought it up Faye. Damn you for making me think :D :D

    Awesome discussion Faye, looking forward to scrolling down and seeing what everyone else thinks.
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    • FayeFaye says

      There’s also that, too! It’s cool to know there can be many possibilities with this. On one hand, people will be expecting it. On the other hand, it’s the incentive for people to try it out. Really thought-provoking!

  5. says

    I think your points are extremely valid! I have this one friend who likes to tell me “oh there are going to be lots of twists in [such and such book], be warned!” so I’m totally on guard and see everything coming, which totally destroys my experience with a book. I honestly need to stop talking to her about books unless I finish them because she legitimately just did this to me a few days ago and I’m really not enjoying the book I’m reading as much because of it. Maybe it’s just that the book is predictable and I haven’t gotten to the actual twists yet, but maybe it’s both.

    I mean, I definitely think knowing exactly what happens in the twist is way worse than knowing there are twists, but knowing there are twists still drives me crazy because I am more wary going into the book. Fantastic post, Faye!!

    • FayeFaye says

      Wow, your friend needs to be a little more… discreet, I think. I’d be super pissed if someone continuously did that to me. A simple, “JUST KEEP READING!” would have sufficed, really!

  6. says

    For me it depends on the book. I can predict a twist, but if I really liked the book then I really don’t care. But if I’m not feeling the book at all, AND I discover what the twist is, well then it’s a whole different story. I like when I know there’s a twist coming, if only because I have something to look forward to while reading! Great discussion! It really has me rethinking how I should write my reviews, lol!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Oh, yeah! Sometimes it’s not the twist that makes the book, but the other elements. That’s why it’s so important for a book to stand on its own and not have its merits be decided by a twist.

  7. says

    OMG I HAVE NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BEFORE. 0_0 It actually makes me not want to mention twists in my reviews. I mean I don’t think I do overly but I’ll say stuff like “the ending was so good and such a surprise” or something like that, which then, of course, would make readers-of-my-review wait for this “surprise”. ACK. I don’t think I want to mention if books have twists or not anymore!! Althooooough. Prior to reading Dangerous Girls I KNEW something big went down. Same with We Were Liars. But I was still 100% shocked when I got to it. I mean, those books are basically known for their mysterious “what thriller/surprise just happened”. But I guess for non-thrillers it’d be best to be quiet. XD
    I LIKE THIS POST. You’ve totally made me think. hehe
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    • FayeFaye says

      Oh yeah, I also knew about the “big twist” in those books prior to reading it too, and I was still guessing and guessing and guessing, but the magic in there is the fact even though I kept guessing, I still wasn’t able to “get it” which is just as awesome as going in blind ;) I guess it really depends whether or not the reader minds and/or is critical !

  8. says

    I am a person who likes to go into a book pretty much clueless. Most times I won’t even read the Goodreads synopsis if I have a slight idea what the book is about, enough to know if I will like or not. I was reading the GR synopsis for a book by a fave author last month and was glad I hadn’t read it before the book because it was so detailed it would have ruined the story for me. I really want to say something to the author, that she should change it, but I don’t have the guts. Knowing there is a plot twist isn’t a reading buzzkill for me because most books I read have them and I expect them anyway. Hmm… does this mean we really shouldn’t tell that there are plot twists in non-spoilers reviews? Great idea for a discussion post! :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      I try to do that, too. When I check out a book and the review of a book, I try not to have an idea of the premise, because going in blind is still the best thing to go about it! But yikes, detailed premises would ruin the book for me, because say too much and you’re pretty much giving the book away :/

  9. says

    I think knowing that there is a twist at all can be kind of like a spoiler but it hasn’t really ruined a book or me. For example before it got super huge my friend told me to read Gone Girl and that it had this crazy thing I wouldn’t see coming. I clearly started looking for something and it still surprised me. So it wasn’t really ruined for me. I can see how it can be annoying though. Great discussion!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Good to know that it hasn’t ruined the book for you!! :D Oftentimes it ruins a book for me because 8 times out of 10, I am able to guess what the twist is ESPECIALLY when I know a twist is coming.

  10. says

    I’d never actually thought about this properly before, but I actually completely agree – knowing there’s a twist really does take away from it, because you’re just waiting for it the entire book, and making all of these predictions, instead of being swept off your feet like you should be. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned twists in book reviews before, and I’m going to avoid that now, after thinking about this properly!

    Thanks for a great, thought-provoking post, Faye!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, I’m definitely going to be more vague when it comes to twists in my reviews, too. As much as possible, it’s important to ensure the reader gets the same reading experience as you did, and that means going in blind and being surprised by twists and their blows!

  11. says

    Really? I’ve never felt that way. I’ve always managed to figure our plot twists on my own, so even if someone gives to much away, I’m not to annoyed. I feel it depends on the type of book. If you are reading a murder mystery, knowing there is a twist won’t really affect the enjoyment ( I mean, obviously it won’t be straightforward :D )
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    • FayeFaye says

      It definitely depends on the type of book, too. Twists in mysteries are oftentimes given anyway – as the worth of a mystery is /usually/ dependent on the twist!

  12. says

    Seriously. THIS.

    I think this is so true, though. A twist does have potential to kill the excitement. Lately, when I’ve been reading thriller YAs, I’ve started to expect their twists and turnouts. And when I used to Gossip Girl, they “unmasked” the face behind the alias in the season finale and it was such a letdown, despite how much I loved the show, the grand twist ended up ruining it all for me. Overall, though, I think it really depends.

    Fabulous post, Faye!

  13. says

    Knowing there’s going to be a twist doesn’t necessairly ruin it. Of course… you’re not going to be as surprised as you would have been if nothing was said about the matter. It depends on how much you reveal about it… and about the book itself… and also on the person who’s reading the book. I don’t know. I don’t mind being told through a review there’s a “twist.” What I don’t like is when there are many hints about said twist – that would make it predictable.
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    • FayeFaye says

      It’s definitely not true for others, yes, although for me, it does in a way. Because if I don’t know there’s going to be a twist, I wouldn’t be “expecting” it. If I’m expecting it, chances are I’m going to be finding out what it is because my mind will be going on overtime thinking about what it could be. But that doesn’t mean it’s always that case! ;) When I’m trying to guess what it is and end up getting my mind blown anyway, now that’s an amazing author right there :D

  14. Kat says

    Okay, I know most people aren’t like this, but I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for hints about possible plot twists. I love being a sleuth and trying to catch onto them beforehand. Honestly, when a plot twist is really well done, even if I figure it out beforehand, rather than feeling disappointed I feel really proud of myself for being such a careful reader and picking up on it. It’s only when the “plot twists” are really obvious that I tend to feel let down.

    I’m fairly certain a large portion of this is because, in my eyes, no one can out-twist Brandon Sanderson. He’s, like, the High King of Plot Twists. The first book of his I ever read was Way of Kings. My brothers TOLD ME how completely mind boggling it was going to be, because of all the plot twists. I read that book SO CAREFULLY. I tried to figure them all out. And there were a lot of little details that I caught. But no matter HOW closely you read Sanderson, he always manages to pull at least one twist completely out from under you–ones that SHOULD have been obvious the whole time, except they aren’t. Anyway, I’ve basically come to accept that there are very few authors who can match him (imo). Plus, because of Sanderson I’ve kind of come to EXPECT plot twists. I’m usually more surprised if a book DOESN’T have a plot twist. So, personally, knowing that there’s one coming never really ruins anything for me.

    • FayeFaye says

      Hahaha! It’s okay, Kat; everyone’s different ;) There have been days where I would be watching a show and then I would look the interwebz for spoilers. And if I don’t like what I read, I’ll drop it. Horrible, I know.

      It’s interesting, though, to be proud of having guessed a twist, but that’s another way of seeing it, I suppose! I can totally understand it though – complex twist and you figure it out? Then that has to mean you’re hella smart, or heck! Maybe you could write your own book and write your own twists ;) But yeah, obvious and overdone plot twists are definitely more of a let down than anything else.

      And I agree with you when it comes to Brandon Sanderson. I totally loved his Way of Kings and Words of Radiance (I wll be having a read-along of this soon-ish!!!). This is why he’s one of my favorites EVER EVER EVER and I just want to dissect his mind.

  15. says

    I love this discussion topic, Faye! It’s such a thought provoking one that has more than once popped into my head over the course of my blogging year this year.
    For me, I definitely don’t think reading of the mention of a plot twist spoils me. I still find the same thrill in it either way, especially if it’s been written well! However I do think that sometimes it is nice not to know, so that you’re totally taken off guard and you’re left feeling crazy speechless!
    Fabulous post Faye!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thanks, Josephine! I appreciate the kind words! :)

      It’s definitly nicer to not know and go into a book blind. When you’re not expecting is when the twist is felt best ;)

  16. says

    WOW I never thought about this before, but now that you pointed it out, it got me thinking. So, for me, nope, it doesn’t really affect me. Because I still have no idea WHEN the twist will happen, and when I read, I kinda just read it alllll, so when the twist comes, I’m just still there like OHMYGOD THIS WAS WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT OMG OMGOMG. HAHAH yeah. But that’s just me. Personally I think talking about the twists are what made people want to read, because people in general look forward to having THAT TWIST. Does that make sense? xD But yeah. Yeah. HEHE.
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  17. says

    I do think this is a wonderful topic to explore and personally speaking, very apt. But its also very subjective, even for me. Depends, like everything else, I guess, on the type of book I’m reading, its genre and writing style, the trail of imagination that the author has got up their sleeve – every little aspect. I do think that KNOWING there is a twist may be a barrier to experiencing the full shock of the plot, but a lot of people may not necessarily read between the lines. I know I don’t – maybe its just that I’m too lazy, though.

    Wonderful topic, Faye!
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  18. says

    I’ve always said that I dislike it when books “rely” on their twist. I think twists can be great, but if you take out the twist and the novel’s characters and story don’t stand up on their own, I’m always disappointed. For me, the kind of books that are ruined by a reader guessing the twist tend to be superficial and not very well-developed.

    In short, I think a book needs to be good whether you guess the twist or not :)

  19. says

    I think talking about a twist definitely does take away from its impact. The whole point of a twist is to shock and surprise you, and if someone tells you about that twist then the shock factor won’t really be there. Even if you don’t know what the particular twist is, knowing that there’s a twist will make you go on high alert, and most likely you won’t be as surprised when it’s revealed. Great discussion Faye! ♥
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  20. says

    Okay okay I get you. It’s like you brace for impact when you know there is a twist coming, but I LOVE knowing that there is one coming so I can try and guess what it is. I like reading between the lines and trying to guess what the author has in store or what the character will decide to do next. It makes the reading more … interactive? for me, at least. But I do try to be cautious about talking about twists when reviewing or discussing a book because I know that some people don’t enjoy knowing that they even exist.

    Another great post Faye!
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  21. says

    I think it really depends on the type of twist, for me. If it’s a more common sort of twist, then I would be quick to find it. But if it was a really good twist, then even if I knew there was a twist, I still wouldn’t see it coming anyway.
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  22. says

    Hmm. Wow. I honestly never thought about that before… but I definitely am now! I think you’re so right!! If I KNOW there’s a twist, I will likely be expecting it, which will take away some of the shock value. Now I actually feel terrible for every mention of a twist in a review I’ve written. Thanks for bringing up this topic though – I’ll DEFINITELY be more aware of this going forward. <3
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  23. says

    This post just out me to think xD hmmmm. I really don’t mind it when a reviewer forewarned TWISTS AND TURNS that will screw your head. As long as they don’t reveal what the twists are in details or say where the twists is in the book then I’m completely cool with it. Of course I will brace myself for said twists but otherwise, I don’t think knowing that there will SOMETHING in the book will ruin it for me. But then again it depends on how good that turn of event is xD
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  24. says

    Yesss! I am just like you- I overanalyze it. In fact, I am almost certain that it’s what ruined We Were Liars for me- I knew exactly what the twist was, from very early on, but is that because I KNEW about the twist? I think it played a big part!

    There’s a book I read recently, and I won’t say what book, but there was a twist I didn’t see coming at all, because I wasn’t even thinking along those lines. Looking back, I would have probably figured it out had I known, but since I didn’t it worked out MUCH better.

    BUT, it is so hard to review without mentioning ANYTHING. Sometimes I am able to say “the book was full of great plot twists” so that is vague, but sometimes, it is really hard! OR what if I didn’t think something even was a twist, but it was for everyone else? I agree with you, and I just wish it was easier to avoid talking about the twists.
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  25. says

    I often have a lot of struggle with this issue. On one hand, I am just so excited to share that the book has someone wonderful in store! But, like you pointed out, isn’t it kinda a spoiler? There are a few books that are ruined just by knowing that a HUGE spoiler is going to happen.
    I think it is impossible to avoid 100% spoilers for a review. If there is a book I am excited about reading, I usually skip actual reviews and just look at the star rating. If I am researching a new book, then I use spoilers, and the twist usually draws me in.

    So, sadly, I am still riding the fence on this issue.
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  26. says

    Hmm. I am going to be honest that talking about the twist in reviews shouldn’t be too big of a deal. I feel like most people skim reviews or read them super fast, and they don’t process that there is a twist until they actually read the book. Or they will forget that the review mentioned the twist in the first place. So I think it should be okay to mention that there is some kind of twist.

    YET as I say this, I can say it depends on the reader, and how many of the book’s reviews you have read. I read a lot of Everything, Everything reviews, which is why I knew there would be a twist. It also depends on the book, because sometimes the twist is super easy to predict, which is what I found in Everything, Everything. Would the lack of mentioning the twist increase my rating for Everything, Everything? Probably not. So yeah. :)

    I think I helped with nothing. SORRY FAYE hahaha
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  27. says

    OMG. THANK YOU. I was thinking about it the other day actually, because yes, I do think that knowing that there is a twist in the story takes away the twist… Because frankly, how can we be completely invested in a romance, for example, if people keep saying that BEWARE THERE’S A TWIST IN THE END! Same thing with nearly every genre, actually.

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