By October 20, 2006 2 Comments Read More →


After my attack of blogorrhea on Monday, it’s a wonder I didn’t develop a worse case of blaryngitis. I didn’t post yesterday because, among other things, I was putting a gloss (well, a second coat of base, anyway) on my reviews for The Case of the Missing Books, Prime Green, The God of Animals, and Born in Flames. I had hoped to complete my review of What Is the What today, but I spent the wee small hours last night with a smiling midget (well, he’s only six months old, so he may yet grow to full stature) and my first draft looks like a bunch of code right now. I think maybe I’ll post it on October 25, which is the book’s official release date. (It would have figured prominently in print Booklist but apparently we didn’t get the galleys in time.)

Spoiler alert: If you plan to read Aryn Kyle’s The God of Animals (which, if you like lyrically written stories about growing up in the changing West, you should)–or if don’t like knowing in advance how any book you haven’t read yet ends–stop reading here.

I mean it. Stop.

Okay, for those of you who don’t mind knowing the ending in advance…I’m not going to actually tell you how it ends. But I am going to give away a piece of information that it annoyed me greatly when I had the misfortune to stumble across it.

After I finished reading What Is the What, I picked up The God of Animals. I wanted to give it a link under “What I’m Reading Now,” so I used Google to search for a cover image, an author site, or something else appropriate. I didn’t find much. Kyle, a Coloradan who now lives in my hometown of Missoula, Montana, apparently likes to lay low.

Then, on a search results page, under a link to her agent, I saw the following text:

Aryn Kyle’s breathtaking first novel, The God of Animals, opens with a dead girl in a canal and ends with an act of violence so astonishing that it upends …

Now, that’s not a true spoiler. They don’t say, “And in the end, Zeke Wilson pulls out a shotgun and blows away his high-school sweetheart, and, for good measure, her dog.”

(That is not what happens in The God of Animals, by the way. He shoots her cat. Just kidding. There is no Zeke Wilson in The God of Animals.)

And it’s probably taken from the publisher’s marketing and publicity copy, so it’s not as if it’s a big secret. But I don’t care how much they want to hype the book, I don’t want someone to tell me in advance that it’s going to end with an act of astonishing violence. Humdrum violence, maybe, but definitely not astonishing violence.

That simple phrase, which I stumbled across on Google, loomed larger and larger in my mind as I read the book. Kyle’s subtle foreshadowing was often trumped by my chance knowledge that AN ACT OF ASTONISHING VIOLENCE would end the book.

I’ve written before about how I try to avoid reading any promotional material whatsoever before I read a book, but because I’ve filed my review already, I now give myself permission to look at the back cover of The God of Animals.

Okay, I’m back. Here’s what’s promised:

Ultimately, Alice and her family must weather a devastating betrayal and a shocking, violent series of events that will test their love and prove the power of forgiveness.

Okay, now it’s SHOCKING VIOLENCE. That’s just not fair. People who browse in bookstores are often influenced by jacket copy, and it seems to me that this brief sentence undermines the painstaking work that Kyle is doing over the course of 305 pages. So stop it, already.

By the way, the ending? Not actually either astonishingly or shockingly violent.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

2 Comments on "Spoilers"

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  1.' barbra says:

    Yes, it was.. there were many cruel acts of violence towards animals which greatly upset me. Had I known it was not the lovely premise of a horse farm i would have never read this book It is well written and thought out, but upsetting to animal lovers like myself.

  2. Keir says:

    Barbra, I’m curious about how you chose to read the book. I didn’t see a finished copy of it, but I don’t recall anything on the jacket copy that promised a lovely story about a horse farm. (If you’re one of those people who avoids reading the jacket copy because of spoilers, I understand!)

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