What kind of book ending do you really, really hate?

I am still deep in messing around with Song of the Shiver Barrens, so here are some Langkawi Island photos to look at, all taken from the cable car. Want to see what a rainforest looks like from above? Langkawi is the place to go. Click on the photos if you want a better look.

Plus a question. What type of book ending do you deeply dislike.

I am particularly interested in sff of course, but no need to confine your comments to that…and note, I am not asking what you like, but what you hate. And I am thinking of the real ending, i.e., the end of the trilogy not Book 1.


What kind of book ending do you really, really hate? — 13 Comments

  1. Michael Crichton’s newest, NEXT, had one of the worst. It was simply no ending at all. Just leave everything hanging so you can make of it what you wish, or perhaps leave it to the movie guys to come up with a sequel, type ending. Horrid.

  2. I don’t know about hate, but I really dislike endings that are clear (so kind of like what Jenn said). Not no ending…it’s not so bad (IMHO) when you know there could be MORE. I.e., the ending is a beginning — that is to say, the last event in the book just opens up new possibilities. that’s fine!

    But when it’s unclear just what DID happen? NO! I’m fine with some interpretation — but don’t be too cryptic or mysterious, or even mystical like was it a dream, was it real, what on earth did the author just describe, did it happen, WTF happened?! NO! ;-(

    But it’s rare for an ending to really, really tick me off. Usually it’s stuff in the middle, or at the end of a book (NOT the final book in the trilogy/series) that annoys me…. 😉

  3. I think my real hate is a book that gives leaves you up in the air without sufficient clues to make up your own mind. That’s just too much like real life!

    There was a sf trilogy I read recently which had a great story.
    Throughout, you were wondering who the baddies were, and more importantly, why they were going around slaughtering all intelligent life they found. A number of reasons were suggested: Maybe this, maybe that, maybe the other. I was so intrigued. Lots of issues were brought in to think about – great stuff. And then, 3 books further along, the ending. The great question was left totally unanswered. I have rarely felt so dissatisfied. It seemed such a cop out – as if the author thought up this great premise for a story but couldn’t think of an ending, but never mind. Let the reader write his own. We’ll just give him a stack of alternatives to choose from.


  4. I just read a book that was a relaxed pace most of the way through the book then crammed in conclusions for the characters and a solution to a murder within the last couple of chapters. This was annoying!

    I also dislike books that are really depressing, have some sort of ray of hope then end in a horrible way (eg character now becomes paralysed just to show us things can always be worse).

    Finally (like everyone else here) I hate books where I am turn the page and am surprised that it has ended as there was no sign that the story had concluded. It’s like the story wandered along until the author met their word limit.

    I’ve just finished re-reading your Glory Isles trilogy and they finished in a very satisfactory manner!

  5. Sounds like I’m jumping on the bandwagon, but even before I read the other comments I was going to say what Glenda did – i.e. an ending with too few clues to saisfy you in your own mind what really happened. I remember being so frustrated with Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone as a child, for that very reason (but maybe that was just me being thick la).

    Like Kendall, there are very few books where I really hate the ending. There have been a few Fantasy trilogies where I’ve found the third book disappointing or ‘unsatisfying’, tailing off after the promise of the first two volumes, but that’s not the same thing.

  6. My pet hate is stories in which the characters are not truly revealed and at the end the author springs a surprise – the characters had been doing stuff off-stage that only comes out in the end. The worst one for this I’ve read in recent years was John Dickinson’s “Cup of the World”. I hung in there with a couple of rather depressing, if well-drawn, protags only to find out at the end that they had been less than honest with me.

    I didn’t even bother to read the sequel.

  7. I hate endings in which all the problems are magically solved and suddenly everyone is happy and lives happily ever after. That’s just too unrealistic for me. Sure, save the world, but there have to be some side effects or consequences.

    The other kind of ending that really irritates me, that puts me off reading anything else by that author is the kind where, suddenly, after a nice story the main character, either in the process of or just after saving the day has an epiphany and the whole style of the writing chages and suddenly whatever they’ve been fighting for becomes irrevelvant or a side issue. I don’t think I’ve explained it that well, so for example Ender’s Game did this, which is a pity because the rest of the book was brilliant and if it had just ended a chapter or so earlier I would have read the sequels.

  8. Pat endings where things don’t really work, but the writer seems to have decided, “Oh, I need to finish now,” and does.

    Endings where a major story line is not resolved. Yes, sometimes the writer wants something unresolved for the next trilogy, but all major threads should be wound up by the end of the trilogy.

    Endings where the character hasn’t solved the problem for him/herself, but instead it’s an act of God. (I’m using Act of God in insurance terms here, not literally.) It worked once, for H. G. Wells (War of the Worlds), but it hasn’t worked since (and it didn’t work for the movie).

    Endings where you finish the book and go, “What? I don’t get it.”

  9. This is a repost of a comment that was obviously lost in cyberspace;-)

    hi, just friended the LJ feed of this blog if you don’t mind – I’ve read some of your books and am a writer myself.

    An ending I hate? SF or non-SF, that has to be an ending which is just too sugary, too good-to-be-true, where all the characters who could possibly create any trouble in the future kick the bucket, and the MCs have everything exactly the way they want. An ending that leaves no ambiguity, no sense of ‘I wonder what they’ll do with the rest of their lives’, no opportunity for the reader to imagine further interesting things happening.

    yeah – that’s what I hate.

  10. I hate dream endings and may never forgive Masefield for ruining a perfectly beautiful book. Exception: Lewis Carroll, because those dreams were so wierd/real/surreal it is always something of a relief when Alice makes it out.

    Related to this: endings where people are abruptly evicted from a world and may or may not remember what happened. I am trying to remember the name of the most horrible book to do this to me – it started in a very bleak modern England and had a spear and a unicorn… Anyone? It may have been by Garner, and I can see the cover. Exclusion: people leave of their own free will or in the fulness of time (Lewis).

    Hate/love: Absolute endings, where all characters are dealt with, all loose ends are tied up and the author makes quite clear that although the ending is (if not happy) satisfactory. These, properly done, reduce me to a sobbing mess. See: Prydain.

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