*Minor Spoilers Alert*
The ending of a book is very important, as it fixes the overall impression that you are left with, and this feeling will determine whether you look back positively on the book or not. Yet it is quite tricky, and often rare to find the perfect ending. Although this is entirely subjective, books should finish in a way the reader agrees with; they should be realistic, tie up all the loose ends and leave you thinking. Whether its a part of a series or not, the ending should make you want a sequel. Either that or a frontal lobotomy so you can start at the beginning and enjoy it all over again.
Twists are good- something unexpected that makes you mentally go back through the book to see all the clues you missed. Thats much of the appeal of mystery or thriller novels, and while some people take pride in being able to predict the ending, I always like to be surprised. I’m quite a gullible reader anyway so am easily led down whichever mistaken path of thought the writer may want to lead me. Case in point: in a series I am reading, a woman ‘disappears’ never to be heard of again (for several books), with all evidence pointing to her death. When she came back I was pleasantly shocked, not having questioned the death theory at all.
Happy endings are not essential for me, I quite like sad books. If it must be happy, it should be good in an unexpected way to avoid being a cliche. With sequels and multi-book series there is even more pressure to get the final ending just right as the story is longer and the reader will be more involved. The ending should not feel as if it is rushed, or comes too quickly, or it can make you feel cheated.
My personal worst ending is the Harry Potter series. Sickeningly cheesy. In books with major battles or wars, the ‘good’ side always sustains only a handful of casualties and the main characters are rendered invincible regardless of the danger they are frequently in. One of my favourites is Perfume: the story of a murderer. It’s different, and brings everything together in a fascinating culmination of events. What’s your favourite ending?
One more thing; never read the ending first. You’ll only ruin it for yourself.