Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Popular Books with Bad Endings

THE HUFFINGTON POST chose these. 



I am going to go with ROOM by Emma Donaghue. When an author puts you through the grinder as this book did, you need to come away with more hope for a good future for its characters than this book provided. Although the ending may be authentic to life, it's not satisfying as fiction. Even a more vague ending would have been better.

What's your choice for an unsatisfactory ending to a good book? 

15 comments:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Patti, the Harry Potter series was my first choice and then I found that Huffington Post had mentioned it too. In fact, though I liked the Harry Potter books, I didn't like many parts of the series from start to end.

I did not like the ending of FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS because Hemingway bumps off Robert Jordan, the protagonist fighting the Spanish Civil War on the side of the revolutionaries. It came as a bit of a shock.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, the Huffington Post list is moronic. I don't know who Maddie Crum is (or how old) but her analysis was often simple-minded in the extreme.

One thing: she did make me glad I quit GONE GIRL long before the ending.

I agree the HUNGER GAMES ending was disappointing but not for the reason she gave. She turned the strong Katniss into a nothing at the end.

The one that comes to mind first is one I've mentioned before here, Michael Connelly's THE POET. I was glad to see Nick Hornby (in TEN YEARS IN THE TUB) agrees with me that it was good until he had to put in one extra twist ending too many. It ruined the book for me.

I'm sure if Jackie were awake she'd name the end of the DIVERGENT trilogy. In fact, she strenuously discouraged me from even reading the third book (ALLEGIANT). That's how much she hated the ending.


Jeff M.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Interesting topic, and I know I've read books like that. Hmmm... I'll have to think of some that fill the bill...

Deb said...

Agatha Christie's Curtain. Poirot killed? Ah, non, mom ami!

Charles Gramlich said...

The Taking, by Dean Koontz.

George said...

I'm with you on ROOM. I wasn't happy with the way Stephen King's GUNSLINGER series ended. But there are rumors King may write another volume so it may not be over.

Todd Mason said...

Robert Heinlein's GLORY ROAD, if by ending one can mean "after the first thirty pages or so"...more than any of his other works I've read, it's rather as if he'd sold it on the strength of sample chapters and didn't know what to do with it (other than tiresomely lecture) once it came time to actually write it.

His more consistently good acolyte John Varley took a while to learn how to write a novel...TITAN has the most ridiculous "Oh, you Can fix Everything horrible you just did? OK, Good to know...no, no, don't bother right now (or ever), that's fine..." ending this side of the Spielberg Gang insult to Jerome Bixby's "It's a GOOD Life" in THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE.

Todd Mason said...

Prashant--but, golly, it wouldn't be Epic if he didn't romanticize the Communist duplicity, I mean heroism, and subversion, I mean Papa Joe's firm hand of guidance (we're all Papas in this together!), of the leftist efforts in Spain like a good little Manful Stooge.

See Orwell and the various anarchists for a somewhat more clear-eyed lowdown on the Spanish War.

Bernadette said...

Good topic. I'd have to go with Geraldine Brooks'YEAR OF WONDERS - it's a historical novel set in 1666 in this tiny village in England where the residents decide to cut themselves off from the outside world because they are infected with the plague and they don't want it spread - it's all very cloying and atmospheric and its main character - a woman - experiences some truly horrendous things, often because she is female and it's 1666. The last chapter though is like some modern day Valley Girl sprinkled rainbows and unicorns all over the place. It really jars. I've heard Geraldine Brooks talk about it and she swears its one of the more historically accurate elements of the story but I still hate it. So when I re-read (which I do fairly regularly - I love the book) I simply don't read the last chapter. Problem sorted :)

Cap'n Bob said...

Only one comes to mind, and I can't think of the title, which saves me from spoiling endings. Hint, hint, people. In this one, a man has to backtrack someone based only on a wrong number call.

At the end he gets the killer to confess while a cop hides in another room. What a letdown.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That sounds like an awful lot of mid-20th century books.

Cap'n Bob said...

This was from the '90s, I'm pretty sure. It might have been by Michael Connolly or Dennis Lahane, too.

Ron Scheer said...

TREE OF SMOKE, Denis Johnson.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My son and husband loved that book. Have to ask about the ending.

Todd Mason said...

Not terribly popular any longer, but Richard Neely's THE JAPANESE MISTRESS has an aggressively dumb and unconvincing ending.