Eye Heart Romance & YA, Spoiler Alerts: When Is It Okay to Talk About It? It's a really interesting that asks after how long is it finally ok to talk about major spoilers. Her title, however, had me thinking about types of spoilers - is it ever ok to discuss spoilers publicly, or should you always be spoiler free or keep them hidden?
It's something that I really have a bit of an issue with when it comes to books featuring LGBTQ* characters. Quite a number of people had a problem with the blurb of Pantomime by Laura Lam when it first came out back in 2013, when it was published by Strange Chemistry. There was no mention at all the Micah and Gene were the same person; that Micah is intersex, raised in their aristocratic family as Gene, and later became Micah when they ran away (I'm using plural pronouns here, because Micah is also genderfluid, and I can't quite remember what pronouns they use.). So, yes, I've just said that Micah is intersex, but Micah being intersex is actually pivotal to their story. It's important for readers - especially possible intersex readers - to know about Micah's intersexuality. It's important that people know about books with characters they can identify with. Hiding the fact, no-one's going to know until they read it, and with our attitude to not spoiling books, if we don't talk about, still people aren't going to know. Thankfully, with people getting annoyed at how Pantomime was published, people did talk about it, and it became known. Fortunately, now Pantomime has been re-published (as Strange Chemistry are no more) by Tor, the blurb has also been updated.
Despite Pantomime coming out a few years ago, this issue still seems to be about. When I started putting together the Diverse YA & MG 2017 UK Releases list, I was informed by a publisher about a book that contained an LGBTQ* - but that, at that time, they didn't know how the book was going to be marketed, and that a certain character had X identity could potentially spoil the story, and so asked me to not mention the book having a character with and LGBTQ* identity until they could confirm how the book was going to be marketed, whether it was going to be known. This was after me asking for clarification regarding whether the LGBTQ* character was a protagonist or a secondary character, and mentioning Pantomime to explain why I was asking. As yet, I've not heard back, so I don't know how what's going to happen for this book.
With books like Margot & Me by Juno Dawson and A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom, I like how they've been open about the fact that there are LGBTQ* characters in their books though not saying any more than that to keep from spoiling the actual plot of the book (neither of these books' blurbs hint at LGBTQ* characters, but it's mentioned in the announcement for Margot & Me, and Lindstrom told me about there being a lesbian POC in an email for the Diverse YA & MG 2017 UK Release list - to make public - but that he couldn't say who that was as it spoil the plot.). I think it's ok to keep the specifics secret when it's going to spoil the story, but at least it's known that these characters are there, whoever they are, rather than not mentioning it at all.
As a blogger, and as someone who likes to discuss these elements of books, I'd probably discuss the characters in hidden spoilers, but mention that I'm discussing the LGBTQ* characters/romance (depending), that way, again, I'm mentioning that there are LGBTQ* characters, but not spoiling the story. But it can be difficult when something is discovered as the story goes along. I read a book in which a character had a rare hidden disability, but none of the characters - not even the character with the disability - know about it until later. As a reader, it was better going into the book not knowing about this disability, because otherwise, I would have known how this disability relates to what happens earlier in the book (it's difficult to discuss without actually going into it, but, clearly, I would be spoiling the book), and it works better to learn about this character's disability when they do - you're in the dark just as much as they are, until you aren't. But for the purposes of representation, how do you deal with that in a review? I decided to discuss it in hidden spoilers, but everywhere else - in diverse lists or when talking about diverse books - I mention that this book features a character with this disability, and say no more. I don't know how else to deal with, how to promote a diverse book as a diverse book, when the knowing about the disability prior is a spoiler. It kind of bothers me, because I do feel people should know, and for them I should talk about it openly, but I do think it's a pretty major spoiler and could spoil the plot. So what do you do?
What are your thoughts in regards to spoilers about marginalised characters? Is it better to give those spoilers, or to not spoil the story at all? What would you do in a similar situation with the book featuring the disabled character?