Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The End

I've had this post in my head for awhile now. Maybe it's finally time to let it out.

The subject of today's post: endings. More specifically, are you a happy ending kind of person? Or is it the sad that you prefer?

I think there's some readers that feel a happy ending is almost a let down. Like the author has contrived things to work out, or that they, the readers, have been manipulated. Or maybe the conclusion was too sudden and wrapped up way too easily. Maybe it's that happy endings aren't realistic enough?

So does that mean it's the sad endings that are more true to life? I find it interesting that many of the books that stick with me, and often end up being some of my favorites, are of the sad ending variety. Perhaps it's because they make you think and feel a little deeper than happy endings.

So which one gives you that satisfied kind of feeling? Which one accomplishes that completeness you need at the end of book?

Or maybe you are like me and like them both. Sometimes, I get really bugged if an author doesn't see fit to give his or her characters a happy ending, and I feel let down and even angry. For the most part, happy endings make me happy and I end up not really worrying about whether or not that particular ending could really conclude that way. I tend to give the story the benefit of the doubt I guess.

Yet, as I said before, the sad ones are especially memorable and powerful. Why is that do you think?

Then, of course, there's those books that might fit into both categories, and have an ending that is both happy and sad. Maybe that is the ending that is most satisfying and true to life?

I thought about listing examples, but that would be spoiling books now, right? And there's no spoilers allowed around here!

So, how do YOU feel about endings? Would you go as far as to say that one is better than the other?


  1. I like happy endings. I also want closure. I'm a sap. However, if the book warrants a non-happy ending, then I'm okay with it. I just don't like things to end the way they shouldn't.

    For that reason, I'm one of the people who loved Breaking Dawn. Sure, the ending was a little anti-climatic, but I was okay with it. With that being said, however, I also like books that end "happily" but not always with everything wrapped up in a pretty, little bow.

    I think it just depends on the book, really.

  2. I for one, do not like sad endings, but I don't like overly happy cheesy ending either. I read books to find an escape from the depressing news that is on t.v. every day. I like endings that are not necessarily super happy, but give the reader hope. I do love a great happy ending though, especially if there is romance involved, but sometimes it seems like some authors rush the end of the books and throw everything together so it turns out happy. That kind of ending bugs me. Not sure if this whole post makes sense, but I do prefer a happy ending over a sad one.:)

  3. PS - I'm usually better with happy endings with fantasy books because it feels like they can happen and stay true to the stories form. I usually don't like real fiction happy endings, unless it happens over a very long time, because then it seems too contrived and not real, like *cough* Jack Weyland's books *cough*.

  4. It really depends on the book, I've discovered. I agree that the sad and thoughtful endings definitely stick with me (I think it's the emotional response we have to them that make them memorable). The happy ones, while making me happy, don't usually leave an imprint.

    However, what disappoints me is when an author works us up and strings us along to expect a certain type of ending and then chickens out and goes for something easy. I'm with Jenni Elise on the real fiction and the fantasy, though I love complex fantasy endings. Hopeful, I think, are the very best kind.

  5. I like both kinds of endings, as long as they leave me satisfied. Sometimes happy endings feel too unrealistic, or the sad one is a real downer. But what really annoys me is when things are left hanging (unless it's a series, then I can understand that). I like the story to be well-wrapped up.

  6. Great question, Suey! I like both kinds of endings. Sometimes, a book just begs for a happy one; sometimes a sad one is in order. As long as the ending fits the book - does it remain true to the overall story or does it require a leap of faith to get to said ending, was it put there for shock value with no build-up or did the author hint at the ending all along - I am okay with whatever is chosen.

  7. Great question. I like how Jenni put it - closure. Thats is what is important to me. Always happy isnt real to me.... but closure is what makes it for me.

    Don't leave me turning the last page looking for more (unless there is another book to the series)

  8. I claim to not be a happy ending type but the truth is I don't mind a happy ending if it's true to the book. Like Melissa, I hate when the book seems to be going somewhere and then the author tacks on this patently false happy ending so it ends on a high note. Sometimes I feel like I'm rooting for a happy ending for a certain character and it doesn't always come. I also like closure - maybe it shows a lack of imagination on my part. It seems like sometimes the author is letting you take the story where you want it to go but I want to know after 350 pages where they see it going. I just read a quote I really liked in The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart: "A happy ending isn't really the end. It's just the place where you choose to stop telling the story."

  9. Ha ha, I am laughing about the Jack Weyland comment.

    Anyway, I like happy endings, but I also like that it isn't too contrived.

    I liked how Breaking Dawn ended happily, for example, but I didn't like how Meyer just wouldn't allow a fight to happen so as not to kill any of her characters. Rowling had the guts to do it in Harry Potter, and I think the ending was better for it. Sure it was sad to lose some favorite characters, but I kind of liked the emotional journey. Plus it seemed more true to life.

    I think overall I prefer a happy ending, but its o.k. if there is some sad with the happy.

  10. Great topic! I am ok with happy or sad as long is it makes sense for the book. I want them to wrap it up and in a timely fashion. I hate it when a book is quickly wrapped up all of a sudden just to get over with or, alternatively, when a book goes on and on. Do it right, yo! :)

  11. I like a *satisfying* ending, which means something different for each book. For me, the ending needs to feel like yes, that's how it was supposed to end. It was inevitable (but not predictable).

    And sure, happy endings are great, but not always needed.

  12. I have to first let you know that when I started reading the post my heart skipped a beat! The graphic and the opening paragraph led me to think that you were going to stop blogging, and I was NOT wanting to read that kind of post!

    Fortunately the topic was much more palatable :) and in answer to your question, I don't think I have a preference. As long as the ending is consistent with the rest of the storyline, and not too predictable or calculated, I am satisfied.

  13. Well, I think I prefer happy endings, actually, as long as they aren't too contrived or deus ex machina-ish. Captain Corelli's Mandolin comes to mind: You just *know* the author tacked on a happy ending as an afterthought, probably because his editor told him it would be too depressing otherwise.

  14. Thanks everyone for the comments! (Molly, I was wondering if anyone would think at first, what you did!)

    It seems most of us are in agreement that either kind of ending is okay, as long as it stays authentic to the story. Yep. Sounds good to me. Authors, take note! :)

  15. I think I agree with you almost entirely. I like both happy and sad endings, but lately happy endings seem a little contrived. If everything works out exactly as I want it to, it sometimes seems contrived. It's a tough balance though!

  16. I don't care if it's happy or sad--I just want it to be right for the story and I hate for all of the loose ends to be wrapped up neatly.



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