Hello, people of the internet!
Yesterday, I uploaded my review on Jane Shemilt’s Daughter – you can read it here. One of the hardest things to review about this book was its twist. I personally didn’t like it yet when I read other people’s reviews, some said they loved it. It got me wondering about twists in general.
What can make them hard to review? It is based on the writing itself or the reader? Perhaps even both?
I decided to write my thoughts about this (because University essay writing habits die hard), and so here is what I think.
Whenever I review books with twists, I don’t spoil them unless it’s important to the review. For example, with Daughter, I struggled with the twist because I felt it was rushed and I was angry at how it turned out. The more I think of it, the ending itself, if edited, would have worked perfectly for the story, but I struggled to connect with its characters and therefore, to me, the twist didn’t have the desired effect on me. However, as I aforementioned, other readers loved the twist as well as connected with the characters more than I did. So, I think there is a link between being emotionally involved with characters and the effectiveness of plot twists.
But, with that being said, the story alone doesn’t affect how well a twist will go. For this example, I move away from books and onto films – this is because this film’s twist in particular highlighted the issue I wanted to talk about. M. Night Shyamalan’s Split had a surprise ending, like many of his other films, which had mixed reviews. I haven’t seen the film, but I spoiled the ending myself because I wanted to know why this ending had a mixed reception. I will not spoil it completely here, but it turns out Split and another of M. Night Shyamalan’s film are connected. I personally thought it was okay (perhaps if I didn’t spoilt it for myself and actually watched the film without knowing any maybe it would have made a bigger impact!). But then I realised that this particular twist only worked for me because I had seen this other film, and therefore understand what’s so shocking about it. I found out that the majority of those who didn’t like the twist, in particular, hadn’t watched this other film beforehand. Now I can’t say if this twist was written well in terms of the film because I haven’t watched it; I can’t say if the twist came out of nowhere without any indications or clues during the film or not. What I can say if that the effectiveness of twists also depends on the audience themselves.
Back to books, I have read a lot of crime thrillers, but stopped reading as many when I began to predict their twist endings. For whose new to crime thrillers, this wouldn’t have been a problem and would have been shocking. But because I had read a lot, and they are honestly very formulaic, the twists didn’t work.
So, from my analysis, twists can be hard to review because it’s mainly subjective due to the writing as well as the audience themselves. One twist can be shocking and brilliant to me, but boring and confusing to another. Reviewing twists has taught me that even if the author was written their twist perfectly, what the author can’t control about their twist’s effectiveness is the reader and what they have previously read.
And that’s why I think twists can be hard to review. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?
Thank you for reading!