BLURBS: GOOD, EVIL, or SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN?
The blurb to Being Sloane Jacobs appears on the inside of the book jacket. It first tells us about two girls, both named Sloane Jacobs. One is sent to hockey camp in Montreal; the other is sent to figure skating camp in Montreal. Neither wants to go; hey accidentally meet and decide to switch places.
This blurb runs through most of the issues.
USEFUL INFORMATION FOR DECIDING TO READ THE BOOK?
I did not read the blurb. If I had, I almost certainly would have thought Switching places. That's overdone. When I was done with the book, I thought This was a well-done switching places book. It seems like a cliche, but we always have room for a well-done version.
The blurb implies that the book is mostly a romance. It was not. So I would have been inclined not to read the book, because I am no fan of romance books. Then I enjoyed it because really the romance was just a nice part of the book. Someone who likes romance would have read the book and probably been disappointed.
ERRORS The blurb says the hockey player was suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks, but she was actually suspended for starting a fight.
Let's think about this. How can the blurb have a simple, obvious, factual error? The person writing the blurb apparently did not read the book. Remember THAT the next time you read a blurb. Also, the author apparently did not read the blurb.
When a girl meets a guy in a Y/A book, there has to be some suspense (and interest) -- what is going to happen? That happens in this book -- but only if you don't read the blurb. (I know, I read the book without reading the blurb, so I experienced this.)
The blurb doesn't give everything away, but it gives enough away to spoil the initial suspense and interest.
Um, this is not advanced theoretical physics. The whole point of a book is that you don't know what is going to happen. If the blurb tells you what is going to happen, it's spoiling things.
Let's think about this. Why would they put someone in the blurb that would lessen your enjoyment of the book? The answer is simple: They want you to buy the book; they don't particularly care if you enjoy it. (Or they do, but that's not their first goal).
And let's think about this. The blurb is not a cooperative venture between you and the publisher. The publisher has one goal; you have another. Sometimes they converge, but sometimes they are opposed.
Which gives us a second answer to why errors can appear in a blurb -- the publisher is mostly just trying to sell the book. Why would the publisher care if there was an error?
This is pretty abstract. Sorry. You can, often, take a theme or lesson from a book. In fact, you can usually take several, books are complicated that way.
If you are told a theme beforehand, that short-circuits the normal process of you extracting themes. That's not good. For one, you are more likely to miss the other themes; for two, probably you should be extracting the theme yourself. And you can also personalize what you extract yourself.
So there is something wrong with putting a theme in the blurb.
Of course, this is compounded if the theme isn't accurate. Remember, it was probably written by someone who hasn't read the book, and the author might not have read the blurb. And the publisher is trying to write a theme that will make people read the book; accuracy and usefulness aren't the issue.
And for this book, there was no way that the theme could be accurate.
The blurb tells us there will be a switch. But the book doesn't really get rolling until that switch occurs -- the stuff before that is mostly setting and character. So this part of the blub spoils nothing. In fact, it's the opposite -- knowing that a switch is coming helps the reader better understand and appreciate the part before the switch.
And lets think about that. It is, at least in theory, possible to have a blurb that informs you about the book without spoiling anything.
Really, I don't like vampire books. I would like to read the blurb to find out if something is a vampire book. Blurbs can be useful. But the publisher is not writing the blurb for your benefit.
Blurbs contain errors. They at least sometimes are written by someone who didn't read the book. What kind of useful information is that? They can contain spoilers that lessen your enjoyment of the book. It is debatable whether themes are good or bad in a blurb, but I vote for bad.
Given that, why read the blurb?
And, most of these problems can be avoided. But the publisher has no motivation to avoid these problems.