New Feature: Trigger Warnings

In my review for The Stars Are Legion, I commented on how disturbing a lot of the book’s imagery was: images which might be a bit much for people with weak stomachs, or for people who might find such images troubling on a psychological level. Because of this realisation, I decided to put out a poll on both Twitter and on my Facebook account about whether or not I ought to begin using trigger warnings for the books I review.

I understand that trigger warnings are controversial. On one hand, I understand how they can be misused, especially in the pedagogical and educational environment, but on the other hand I also know how useful they are. I have a few close friends who have experienced extremely traumatic events in their own personal lives, and for them, trigger warnings can be useful if they wish to avoid specific content or, at the very least, brace themselves against any triggering material while they are reading something.

It is for the sake of these friends, and for other people like them, that I have decided to include trigger warnings in any applicable reviews I write from now on. In line with that, I have decided on a handful of terms to describe the triggers I will warn for. They are as follows:

  • Rape
  • Physical and/or Emotional Abuse
  • Body horror
  • Extreme blood and gore

The wording has been kept deliberately vague in order to ensure that I avoid giving away spoilers, which was one of the primary concerns those polled mentioned when I asked about the feasibility of this idea. If a reader wishes to know more specific information, said reader is free to contact me in a comment, provided they are willing to run the risk of being spoiled.

There were also concerns about how obtrusive the warning would be, so I have decided to make it a relatively small graphic, placed at the very end of every review, right below the book’s overall rating. I will place a note at the beginning of the review if I included a trigger warning for the book, with a note to scroll down to the bottom of the review to find it. In this manner I hope to keep the site mostly the way it is now, while still incorporating this feature which many people may find useful.

Finally, since I mostly do not have triggers – squicks, yes, but not triggers – I may read a book and not note something in it as triggering content. In such cases, readers are free to contact me in the comments and suggest that I include a trigger warning if they think the book needs one. If so, please indicate the specific scene that is considered triggering, so I may consider which of my four aforementioned categories it falls under. Please specify the chapter to make it easier to find.

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