Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The End

Show of hands, who's usually disappointed by the way any given novel novel ends? Not the fact that it ends (that's a mark of a good book, if you're disappointed by it!), but by how it ends.

I don't know if it's just my luck with reading lately, but I've been disappointed with the ending of many a book I've read in the past two weeks or so. It's got me thinking -- am I normally this unsettled by how a book concluded and just haven't noticed?

I don't know. I just know that I consider the ending even more crucial than the beginning because a bad beginning has a lot of room to improve, or at least serves as a warning as to whether the reader should continue the book or not. Whereas, when you're on the last page, you have no room for an uphill climb, nor can you get your reader's time back.

A bad ending can really ruin a book.

23 comments:

Alea said...

Yeah I think so. I feel like lately the ends haven't been as strong in the books I've been reading, sort of an oh crap we need to wrap this up ending or really predictable.

tencentnotes said...

Agreed. But at the same time a good ending can save an otherwise so-so book, and I like that. I've had a lot of good endings in what I've been reading lately.

Jenn Nixon said...

I have more issues with bad movie endings than book endings. For the most part, I've only read three or four books with crap endings...

Though I was really sad at the end of the LOTR trilogy, it almost made me shed a tear...almost.

Galaxy said...

The book I think of most often in this way (because I felt like the author had wasted a big chunk of my time after I'd read nearly a thousand pages) is The Crimson Petal and the White. I really liked the book up until the last page, where I felt like I'd been hit in the face. THAT was the end?? It couldn't be!

Cinnamon said...

Recently I've discovered not necessarily "bad" endings for some of the books I've been reading, but disappointing endings. Very anticlimatic.

Angiegirl said...

I absolutely agree. Endings must be way harder to nail than beginnings because there are fewer of them. I frequently find myself quoting killer first lines to people. But it's a much rarer occurrence to rave about the ending. Off the top of my head, a few books that have what I consider to be "perfect" endings: How I Live Now, Silent in the Grave, The Queen of Attolia, Such a Pretty Girl, and The Book Thief. Now, I imagine you could drive yourself mad slaving over getting the ending just right. But some authors just seem to be able to finesse it perfectly. It would be fascinating to hear some authors talk about how they went about their endings.

MssJos said...

I totally agree, even great books can be ruined by bad endings. It's like going to a great restaurant with great service and then having someone be completely rude to you on your way out the door-leaves a bad taste in your mouth forever! Great post, and I have an award for you on my blog!

BookChic said...

For me, I follow a book wherever it goes, so however a book ends is usually fine with me. I believe that the author knows what's best and so if that's how they wanted the book to end, I'm happy with it. There's rarely a time when I'm disappointed by the way a book ends.

Does that make sense?

Diana Dang said...

Hm, I can't recall any books that ended bad enough for me to scream in frustration but it does occur a bit in mangas.

But yes, I can hate the book after because the way it ended.

HelenB said...

A bad beginning will make me not read a book at all.

A bad ending is worse, though. If I've actually read a book all the way to the end then I'm at least somewhat emotionally invested in the book, and if the ending doesn't suit my emotional need, or make sense in terms of the rest of the story, then I'm going to go away feeling dissatisfied.

Steph, I'd be interested to know what you think it is that actually makes an ending good or bad!

Diana Peterfreund said...

I agree with HelenB. I would be interested in discussing that, too. Endings are tough, too, because different people want totally different things in an ending. Some folks like lingering epilogues that explain exactly how everyone lived happily ever after (or got their just desserts) and have a scene of everyone just sitting around enjoying their resolution. Other people like a one-two punch.

Though I can think of a lot of endings i'm dissatisfied by, I'm having a tough time at the moment thinking of an ending of a book that I truly love, unless the ending is a set up for a sequel. Like I love the endings of the first two Uglies books, but they both end on cliffhangers for the sequels.

Amee said...

I don't think a bad end ruins a book. I've read many a bad end and still enjoyed the book. Although I suppose I make up epilogues for myself and for the characters. Maybe that helps soften a bad ending for me. ;)

ReaderGirl said...

As sad as it is I agree =/ Hope you get a good book ending soon!

Genevieve said...

I know just what you mean! There have been so many books that I love and the ending turns out to be such a let down, it ruins a book sometimes.

Bookworm said...

I hate crappy endings. That's one of my pet peeves. Like cliffhangers. THEY REALLY BUG ME! Of course, a sappy ending sucks too but that's another thing that DRIVES ME UP THE WALL: predictability. Why bother reading the book if you already know how it's gonna end???

Melissa said...

Agreed. The ending can make or break many a book for me. Sorry you're in a slump.

a flight of minds said...

That's so true. To me, an ending pretty much summarizes my feelings on the book. Or concludes them. Usually, my final thoughts and feelings are based on the ending. So if it's a bad ending... usually I end up not liking the book as much as I would if the ending was better.

I would say that most endings, I'm pretty satisfied with. There are some that leave me absolutely devasted, for different reasons, but also some that just seem so perfect and right to me. It all depends I guess.

But yeah, if the ending is bad, it can ruin the book.

Bookgeek said...

Oh I agree. I'm currently very uncomfortable with so many books that just end. They are not bad endings per se, they just end. And then you just have to wait for the next in the series. And it is always too long. It's not that I don't want to read books in a series, I want the story to have an arc and to have an ending of sorts, ready to start on another adventure (rant over)

imbookingit said...

I'm usually pretty easy on endings. I'm just willing to go with them. I did have one book recently where the end made me mad, because I had REALLY liked the book until then.

Lisa Mahapatra said...

You know what pisses me off even more. Books the end abruptly, with no closure just so that readers will go out and buy the sequel. There have been so many times where I'm reading and I come to the last page and I'm like "That's it!!???" WTF???

And it's not like the size of the books are are so unwieldy so as to make it impossible for the 2 or 3 books that are there in the series to be just joined together, and made into ONE single book.

Anonymous said...

I can pretty much forgive any type of ending if I liked the book to begin with. Endings are tough. BUT I don't like to be lectured to in the final five pages about the book's theme and relevence to society and how we sould see people. Why ruin book by giving a summary of what the theme was? If the reader hasn't figured it out by the end, they weren't into the book to begin with.

Unlike Diana I don't like cliffhangers. That's why I prefer stand-alone books.

Heather Zundel said...

All I can think of is The Giver. That has to be one of the worst endings in the history of books. But the rest of the book was so amazing, I can't help but love it (except for that baka ending. Grr).

That would make a really good post Steph - what DOES make an amazing ending? What ruins an ending. That would be fascinating to delve into.

Rebecca Herman said...

I agree that bad endings can ruin great books! For me the first is a cliffhanger/open ending when there will be no sequel or if it's the last book in a series but ends that way. agh.

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