What are some books that had “good” endings for you?
Kingdom of Ash, Lord of the Rings, Crooked Kingdom, The Tower of Nero, Red, White & Royal Blue, The Fault in Our Stars, A Thousand Splendid Suns, A Tale of Two Cities and so many more!
What are some books that had “bad” endings?
By far the two worst endings I’ve ever come across were in The Fate of the Tearling and Allegiant. Both books were amazing well beyond the 80% mark, and then somehow in those last few chapters, managed to ruin everything. These two are kind of my pet peeves on this subject, but a few more are: Mockingjay, Breaking Dawn and yes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
What do you think makes an ending of a story satisfying? Is there anything you always hate in an ending?
The ending of a story and what makes it good or bad varies by genre, but it can make or break a book. In my mind, the ending has always included both the climax and resolution of a book, which makes it the ultimate goal that the plot has been working towards. There are two types of endings I like best. First is the type that makes you wish there were more pages in the book to follow these characters and their adventures further. But the second and far better one is the type of ending that is so satisfying it sends you into the best kind of book hangover.
For me, a satisfying ending to a book or series is one that logically makes sense given both the progression of events in a story and the specifics of the world it is set in. It’s an ending that you don’t necessarily see coming, but when it’s all over, you can’t really think of any other way it could have worked out. It’s where the author does not shy away from writing the ending that the story demands. The finale of Claire Legrand’s Empirium series, Lightbringer, is an excellent recent example. It was quite clear by midway through book 2 that Rielle had fallen too far to ever be completely redeemed. Going into this book, my biggest concern was actually that the ending might be contrived to bring about a ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ scenario – which thankfully did not happen. Properly done, a sad or bittersweet ending can be just as satisfying as a happy one – the key is moving the reader to emotion.
Open ended resolutions to a story can be both good and bad depending on how it is done. I’ve always felt there’s a fine line to how much is left up to the reader’s imagination at the end of a book – there should be enough information that all fundamental plot points raised throughout are tied up, but it’s more about providing a resolution to the plot of the book itself rather than tying up character arcs. When it comes to characters, I like for there to be something to still wonder about.
An ending that throws away any character or plot building up to that point and completely veers in a new direction is a type I really dislike. I don’t mind last minute plot twists, but not ones so huge that renders everything else irrelevant. Sometimes it’s a thoroughly unnecessary epilogue that spoils things after wrapping up everything just right.
On the other hand, the opposite of that, where the reader can see the ending coming from a mile away is no fun either – a little foreshadowing is always good, but they have to be subtle enough that I don’t have the entire thing figured out halfway through the book. I actually like it when my theories are proven wrong.
The worst kind of ending in my book however, is one that is contrived, where the author has decided the ending before completing the rest of the story, and maneuvers the story and characters to get there. It’s always very obvious and easy to spot, because the progression of the story doesn’t feel natural after a point – either that, or a poorly executed deus ex machina where the device is used as a tool to make things work rather than for effect.
What do you think makes a good ending for a book? Share your thoughts in the comments below!