Book blurbs, whether on the back of a paperback or the inside flap of a hardback, are intended to hook you and convince you to buy the book. In theory, they should have something to do with the book. So my question is, what are some of the best and worst blurbs you’ve come across? I am myself thinking fiction here, but if you have good (or bad) non-fiction examples, feel free to add them.
My contribution to the WORST:
In the early 70s when I was a lad I remember one school day, when Mom took me to the doctor because I had some illness or another, on the way home we stopped at a drugstore so she could fill a prescription for me and I examined the small selection of paperbacks on a rack looking for something to read. I spotted one science fiction novel, Eric North’s “The Ant Men”. The blurb on the back sounded pretty good, and I don’t recall that there were a lot of choices, so Mom bought it for me.
Here is a link to the front cover, by the way (my copy is long lost):
I found a copy on eBay with a picture of the back cover, so here is the blurb (there’s one bit I couldn’t make out for sure).
“THE LAST FIVE MEN ON EARTH…that’s how the small expedition team felt – lost in unexplored desert and facing a dangerous enemy. On the second day giant insects [abducted?] the team’s leader – AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR. The next night the youngest member of the groups was killed – AND THEN THERE WERE THREE. Then the other men raced for safety, but the weakest couldn’t make it – AND THEN THERE WERE TWO.
“Just two men against an army of super-intelligent, extraordinarily strong creatures. But when the older of the two me surrendered to the enemy there was just one – but only for a short, terrible time.”
OK, so here’s the real story in a nutshell. Five guys in Australia come across a colony of sentient ant men (so far so good). Although the humans become pawns in a power struggle within the ant man colony, the ant men aren’t hostile. None of the humans are killed. Or hurt. They all become friends with the ant men.
This blurb has stuck with me so long because, I think, it was the first time I read a book where the blurb had been so blatantly written by someone who had never read the book.
My contribution to THE BEST: When in grad school in Chapel Hill in the 80s I picked up a copy of Walter Jon Williams’s “Voice of the Whirlwind” during one of my regular stops by the Foundation book store. I had never read any Williams before, but the blurb hooked me:
“Steward is a beta. A clone. His memories are fifteen years old, because his alpha never did have a brain-scan up-date. And in those fifteen years, the entire world has changed: The Orbital Policorp which held his allegiance has collapsed; dozens of his friends have died in an off-planer war; an alien race has established relations with humanity; his wife has borne a child, and divorced him; his second wife has also divorced him; and someone has murdered him.”
I bought the novel, and wasn’t disappointed. I’ve read a lot of WJW novels since then.
Anyone else have any contenders for the all-time Best and Worst Blurbs award?