Thursday, May 24, 2012

Discussion: Book Endings


So the book I just finished got me thinking about book endings and what sort of endings I like and dislike.

I'm a happily ever after kind of girl. I am, I'm not ashamed to admit this. It's probably not very literary of me, but it's just the way it is. I love it when a couple rides of into the sunset together and I love it when my hero and heroine have kids and/or get married and go on to live their lives blisfully in love with each other. I cheer when the bad guy get put into prison and the innocent gets his life back.

But I don't necessarily need to have all obstacles the characters face cleared away so they can be happy. I don't need the happily ever after, but I do love it when I finish a book that I'm either smiling or at least left with a sense of hope for the future. The ones where the main characters are still overcoming their difficulties, they have suffered heartbreaking losses and/or know that all will not be right, maybe never, but they still have something to believe in, some sort of goal or something to work towards. And the thing I most like: they are not defeated, there's still some fight left in them and a sense that they can make it better. They can survive these awful things that have happened.

Sometimes, however, I admit that if I know it'll end badly, I don't read the book or watch the movie. I refuse to watch Marly and Me because I've heard someone say what happens in it (and I know that I would cry and be heartbroken over it). I still haven't finished watching I Am Legend. I stoppend when that thing happened to the dog (I don't want to spoil anything, but it made all my hope vanish), it's been 3 years and even though one of the guys I went to college with tried to convince me Will Smith and those nasty creepers would be dancing around beneath a rainbow throwing flowers everywhere, I don't think I believe him.

The exception for this is historical fiction, cause though I know Anne Boleyn's head will get chopped off in the end, as well as another of Henry VIII's wives, I am endlessly fascinated by them and the stories different authors can spin around these historical figures.

So yes, I like my endings to be happy, but mostly I like the ending of a story to fit the rest of the book. I'm looking at Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini when I say this. And I imagine it will be the same if George R.R. Martin ever finishes his A Song of Ice and Fire saga. You can't have so much darkness and depression and death in a book or series and then just have everyone be ok in the end. I would be like ending the Shrek movies with Shrek and Fiona dying a horrible death.

Also, I don't mind not knowing everything that will go down in the lives of these characters after the last page, but I do very much dislike it when major plot points are left unresolved and I feel like I'm left hanging. Or getting swept under the rug cause it's more convenient than dealing with it. This tactic works while tidying up because your relatives are coming for a surprise visit, not with a novel.

So those are my thoughts, what about you? What do you like when it comes to book endings? Are you a happily ever after kind of person as well? Or can you handle the empty feeling of a hopeless situation better than I can? Is there a book that you thought had a perfect ending? Ones that disappointed you? Let me know!

12 comments:

  1. My thoughts are exactly like yours. I normally love happy endings that leave me with a smile and a good feeling. But when a series of books is dark and very complicated, then a HEA doesn't always fit to the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get really annoyed when they force it into a HEA and it feel REALLY unnatural. Yay for happy endings that fit the story though! :)

      Delete
  2. I am fine with any ending that fits the rest of the book. I am perfectly ok with sad, hopeless, or resigned endings, so long as they make sense. Happy endings are nice, but like you mentioned with the Song of Ice and Fire series, sometimes happy endings just don't fit with the rest of the book. 1984, for instance, had a not-so-happy ending, but it was the perfect ending anyway and I would never want it changed, no matter how sad and frustrated it made me. Heart of Darkness has an ambiguous and foreboding ending, which matches the endlessly nuanced and open-to-interpretation style of the rest of the book. I really like the endings to both of those novels because they make sense thematically, structurally, and in terms of the plot and character development. So long as an ending does that, I'm happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should really read both books you mention! I envy you for being ok with hopeless and resigned endings!
      And you're right, what matters most is that it fits the story, not whether it's happy or sad.

      Delete
  3. Oh, I think you'r eso right!
    I do generally prefer a HEA over every other type of ending, but I'm okay with less than happy endings when it makes sense for the book and I feel like it's how things would have really ended.

    I'm all for a little suspension of reality or historical inaccuracy, but there needs to be some logic to the ending and, like you said, something that is all doom-and-gloom can't end in sunshine and rainbows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HEA for the win! But mostly like you said, things that fit the book. And I'm also not against a little historical inaccuracy, I mean, I'd love it if someone suggested a huge plot in which Anne Boleyn secretly got away after all (it's not likely without a head, but still, it COULD HAPPEN).

      Delete
  4. I absolutely love a heart breaking cliffhanger, if the book is the first in a series! I just love a cliffhanger that leaves me wondering and anxious for the next book.

    If it's the conclusion of the series then I am definitely a HEA girl, I really liked Mockingjay's ending; even though it was a little bittersweet after everything I'm glad it ended that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have mixed feelings about cliffhanger, on one hand I'm DYING to read the next book and getting all excited, on the other hand it can get really frustrating when you need to wait a WHOLE YEAR for the next book... But if well done they can be great :)
      I'm also happy with how Mockingjay ended, I know a lot of people didn't like it, but for me it was a fitting ending to the series.

      Delete
  5. When it comes to book endings, we're definitely alike - I love a good happy ending. It's always nice for me to have things resolved and everyone getting what they deserve :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know right :) I love it when all is right in the fictional world by the end of a novel :)

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We all enjoy a good ending in books and movies. However, there is also high demand for twist endings and sad endings. Thanks.


    BookEndings.com

    ReplyDelete