When Book Blurbs Say Nothing at all

Does anyone else get as frustrated as I do with too mysterious book blurbs?

Alright, up above is the cover for Lie to Me and here’s the book blurb:

“I suppose what I am saying is, how much do we collude in our own destruction? How much of this nightmare is on me?

You can hate and rail.
You can kick out in protest.

You can do foolish and desperate things, but maybe sometimes you just have to hold up a hand and take the blame.”

Breathless.
Claustrophobic.
Unsettling.
Impossible to put down.

From the author of Under Your Skin and Remember Me This Way, Sabine Durrant. The dazzling new must-read for all fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Widow.

I won this book in a giveaway and I remember having to go to read reviews — which turned out to be spoilery —  to actually find out what the book is about. I feel like whoever wrote this couldn’t figure out what the book is about, so they put some mysterious dialogue to save them the trouble of writing something.

And then threw some names of books that are generating great buzz and threw it on the heap that is this blurb. Is it lazy? Is it trying for mysterious and instead being too mysterious? Doesn’t this detract from readers’ interest in the book, or are they counting on people knowing the name Sabine Durrant?

Do blurbs annoy you like this? Which books? When I see something this mysterious, I generally go past it in a bookstore, what about you?

22 Comments

  • Oh goodness that is awful lol. I did a post once on things that turn me off in book blurbs, and this, book blurbs that say nothing, should’ve been on it. Because you’re right, it’s ridiculously frustrating. And usually I just won’t even bother to read reviews. Like, why should I have to *work* to figure out what your book is about? I actually just read a blurb tonight and literally said to myself, “Well that was a terrible blurb,” and clicked away to look at some other book or whatever. Blurbs should entice me, not make me work.

    • Verushka says:

      EXACTLY, I don’t want to work to figure out what a book is about — you don’t have to give me everything in the blurb, but something would be nice, you know? Looking at some blurbs like this, I feel like publishers/authors are trying too hard to make their book *unique* and just failing. But, yeah, why waste time figuring things out when other books are waiting to be read and have better blurbs?

  • Ugh that is annoying — I’ve had a few blurbs like that before and I always think, wow, if they can’t write a blurb, how will the book be?

    • Verushka says:

      IKR? The blurb is your book’s first impression, you have to make it brilliant, and actually reflective of your book, I think.

  • Lola says:

    Huh that’s a weird blurb. It gives me no clue at all where this book is about. Except for something bad that happened to the main character I think? Which might be her own fault or at least she’s thinking about that. I agree it’s too vague. I don’t mind it if parts fo the blurbs are vague, but there also has to be enough to give me a feel for the book and tell me where it’s about. I understand not wanting to give too much away, but you have to tell potential readers something, else why would they pick it up.

    • Verushka says:

      The narrator is a guy, Lola, that’s how frustrating this blurb is — there’s no indication at all of the most basic things to give readers some sort of context for the book. I would dearly love to know why the author/publisher decided to be so vague about it.

  • Oh yes this annoys me, or it compares to awesome thrillers and ends up being a plain mystery..yeah annoying. I also hate ones that reveal the whole book,..I mean after reading the blurb why bother?

    • Verushka says:

      YESSS, oh yes to ALL of what you just said! And, absolutely yes to thrillers that are just plain mysteries. Or, twists that are just … not.

  • Sometimes vague blurbs can work well, but other times you need SOMETHING to go off of in order to be interested enough to read. I am tired of hearing “for fans of…” and mentioning the same books and authors. It sounds more like wishful thinking than fact most of the time.

    -Lauren

    • Verushka says:

      Ahhhh, yes, that “For fans of” line is an easy cop out of writing an actual blurb IMO. Especially of the big successes recently. So lazy. SO lazy.

  • Annette says:

    Yes, these types of blurbs DEFINITELY annoy me! And like you, if I can be bothered, I then find myself on goodreads looking for a review that will actually explain the premise of the book. If I can’t be bothered… I never buy the book. Mysterious book blurbs do not work for me at all…

    • Verushka says:

      Tell me about it — I would SO SO SO love to know the thinking behind blurbs like this. Is it just the book can’t be put into a blurb? Even a line quote to lead into a blurb would be something.

  • Well… I wouldn’t have a clue! I mean, I guess all I’d know about this book is “probably suspenseful” and would likely pass it right by! I don’t even really like reading blurbs very much, but when I DO, it is because I want to know what I am getting into- not for some weird book comparisons, which would mean nothing to me anyway since I haven’t read those other books and only know THEM as “probably suspenseful” ? I agree with you, I think someone just hoped that the name and comparisons would be enough to carry the blurb but it really, REALLY isn’t! Great topic!

    • Verushka says:

      IKR? I hate blurbs that are only book comparisons never mind a vague blurb AND book comparisons. SIGHS.

  • I think a synopsis should draw you in and should give you a hint of what you can expect in a book. I see a lot of self-published books that have really vague synopses that play up shock value. I hate it!

    • Verushka says:

      ME TOO! Oh, and you’re right — synopses that play up shock value or OMG, twists. For the sake of nothing more than using that word in a blurb. Boo.

  • Tasya says:

    That… just really weird and kinda seem lazy. And it also makes me doesn’t want to read the book. At least if you want to put a dialogue on the back of the book, pick something that would intrigue the reader, not to make them weirded out and don’t want to read the book… It just sounds really vague, like I expect some thrillers? Or maybe it’s just a normal contemporary book about dealing with the consequences. Reader would expect some things, and when their expectations aren’t mad the book won’t get really good feedback.

    • Verushka says:

      You’re right, even a blurb like this would set expectations, and definitely piss of some readers. Such a turn off.

  • Jackie says:

    Even throwing titles of similar books tells me nothing because I haven’t actually read Gone Girl, The Widow, or the Girl on the Train. I suppose it is trying to be mysterious to draw in readers, but I can’t imagine it’s very successful. I don’t find myself intrigued by this excerpt, so I would overlook this book.

    • Verushka says:

      I hate HATE how publishers assume everyone has read Gone Girl and Girl on the Train and know what they’re talking about. It’s definitely lazy and can backfire big time — I’ve read The Widow and I thought it was terrible.

  • Oh geeze! I would NOT have ended up reading that book, not gonna lie. I like to get a feel for whether the plot is something that’s up my alley and … well, vagueness is not something I typically enjoy. I would just assume that the entire book is vague and I would run screaming.

    I don’t need a blurb to tell all, but I at least need a decent feel for the type of book and/or character or … well … SOMETHING!

    Great post!

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