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A Reader of Fictions: Top Ten Irritating Endings

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Top Ten Irritating Endings

So have you ever been reading a book and generally enjoying yourself when suddenly, out of nowhere, everything went south? And I don't mean that the characters migrated South for the winter. More like they suddenly forgot their personalities and did stupid things that were out of character. Or the author decided to add on a pointless epilogue. Or a fun book suddenly became the most depressing read of your life. While surprising the reader can be good, sometimes it's not. They don't always ruin the reading experience (although sometimes they do), but they are annoying and I do remember.

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

The epilogue for the long-awaited sequel in the Harry Potter series left many rather...displeased, myself included. It didn't ruin the series for me; it actually made me laugh a little bit. Still, it was really lame and the book would have been better off without it. My personal theory for why Rowling decided to end such an epic series with a cheery epilogue (which was essentially like this: Harry and his friends lived happy, uneventful lives and had many, many kids who are now dating one another) was to prevent an expanded universe springing up (ala Star Wars).

9. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I know that it's not cool to like Stephenie Meyer, but oh well. (I admit that I used to really like the Twilight series, although the John Hurt moment in book four cured that, but I still like The Host.) What made this book so nice, especially compared to Meyer's other work, is the really strong heroine. She fights hard to get what she wants. This is what I like to see in a heroine. And then at the end, everything changes (I won't say how) and the heroine is all Bella Swan-ish and helpless. WHY?!?!

8. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

This started out as a really interesting story of a weird club at a prep school. There was dating drama and intelligent humor. All good. And then things started getting weirder. And weirder. Until I didn't know what was going on. And then I did. But I didn't know why and I really wanted it to stop. But the book just kept going. Sometimes an author pulls a rug out from under your feet and you are awed by the magic and sometimes the rug-pulling simply ends with you falling on your butt angry and bruised. I limped away from this rather long novel. The only reason it's so low on the list is that I only sort of liked it to begin with.

7. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

My AP Language class had to read Ethan Frome. I did not much care for it, but it was among the least obnoxious books I had to read that year. The opening scenes were mostly blah. A bit boring, but not too bad. And then...(Spoilers coming) the main characters die in a tragic sledding accident. For serious. What else can I say?

6. Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien

While considered a classic dystopia in the world of children's dystopias, this book definitely has its issues. For one thing, it makes absolutely no sense that Ann's valley is safe from radiation. Ann also lets herself be bullied by Loomis longer than she should have, which may be a gender thing from the times. Even though I don't think Ann made the right choices a lot of the time, I did enjoy reading through this classic dystopia. Until the ending simply compounded on all of the weak points in the novel. Let me just say that in the postapocalyptic world, one really shouldn't worry about taking the high road in an argument.

5. Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

Everyone knows that Shakespearean comedies end with a bunch of weddings. Yay! Happy! Usually, the audience is rooting for the couples and happy to see practically the entire cast pair off. At the end of Measure for Measure though, I was super concerned about the fact that a woman just got forced into marrying the local bigwig. She had plans for her life that were completely ignored and no one ever asked if she wanted to marry the guy. Not cool!

4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The epilogue to Crime and Punishment is pretty infamous for being one of the worst epilogues of all time. The novel minus the epilogue is a bit of a slog, but altogether a good read (once you can figure out who all of the names belong to). The characters are all flawed and the tone is dark. Then there's the epilogue, which is full of optimism and is as full of happiness as Siberia can be. The epilogue's message and tone do not match the rest of the book and do not fit with the characters' behaviors previously.

3. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Oh, this book. It's a really interesting read about a hostage situation that goes on for a fairly long time. Relationships develop between the folks stuck in the house and even with the people holding them captive. All really cool. Patchett even managed to convince me that I was wrong about the two people I shipped in the beginning and that they belonged with different folks. Awesome. But then people die. And the two people I wanted to get together at first get married. And I can't enjoy it.

2. Atonement by Ian McEwan

McEwan's novels plumb emotional depths and deal with incredibly depressing subject matter. The beautiful writing often overcomes the gut-wrenching despair and makes the time spent reading his novels feel worthwhile (although The Cement Garden mostly just creeped me out). Atonement is heartbreaking and beautiful, though a bit slow moving. But then it ends in an exceedingly hackneyed and obnoxious way, which still frustrates me to this day. Why make me go through all of that to end it like this?

1. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I really loves this book for the first two hundred or so pages. The time traveling was interesting (although it definitely walked a fine line between sweetness and pedophilia in a few spots...there really is no safe way for him to show up naked to visit his future wife when she's a kid). The bits in the library were awesome. I can't be more specific because it's been a few years since I read it, but I do know that it was one of those books I pretty much just wanted to keep reading. Then everything changed and was absolutely terrible and depressing and painful and scary and gross. Where did the book I was loving go? Can I go back to there?

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7 Comments:

Blogger Kelly said...

I kind of agree about the Harry Potter epilogue, though I was pretty much ok with. Just seemed kinda weird at the end of a really dark book. But I do think that it was more so that no one else could add on to the story.
I haven't read Atonement, but I've seen the movie...does the book end like the movie does? Because I was a big fan of the movie until the end. And then it is depressing as hell.

April 7, 2011 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, the book does end like the movie does. And lucky me, I forgot that and super wanted to watch the movie and then was angry all over again. Le sigh. Watching Atonement still may have been worth it for the library scene.

April 7, 2011 at 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Steena said...

I've read less than half of these but, on those I have, I agree. The epilogue of Harry Potter (which I just finished, by the way) was entirely unsatisfying. I personally think Deathly Hallows needed a few more chapters - dealing with the deaths, commenting on how one returns to life after such a battle, etc. I hear rumor there is to be an eighth book published this year. My only hope is that it addresses the lingering, unspoken story of Harry and Co. and not the dating drama of the epilogue. I now want to read Ethan Frome.

April 7, 2011 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger AbbyDe said...

I don't know if I would say Wanda is 'Bella like' at the end of the Host...I just wish we could see more of her adjustment because I think she would have made it work in the end!

April 14, 2011 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Princess Pearl said...

Oh yeah, I found the Harry Potter epilogue all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Especially considering the series had gotten so dark the last few books, it was just not as good as I expected it to be. A fun series nonetheless. And I would have to disagree with you on the Time Traveler's Wife. I actually thought the book was awesome, including the end! =)

August 7, 2011 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger rachchan2006 said...

I haven't read The Time Traveller's Wife yet, but another book by Audrey Niffenegger which has an absolutely horrible ending is Her Fearful Symmetry. I felt like all the time I'd spent reading that book was wasted, and I have absolutely no idea why she wanted it to end in such a depressing way. And did anybody find the end of Mockingjay annoying as well?

April 8, 2012 at 2:12 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Not sure how I'll feel about Mockingjay until I reread the series. Haven't read Her Fearful Symmetry yet, but I'll go into it prepared!

April 8, 2012 at 2:13 AM  

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