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Old 03-27-2011, 04:05 PM   #1
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Worst Ever Ending to a Book

Never good to discuss book endings but if it stops people from smashing their ebook reader in sheer annoyance maybe it would be good to have some cautionary tales about books that really suck because of their endings. I have two examples: one is by James Patterson (or whoever wrote it for him). It is so bad I have expunged the title from my brain but it concerns the mass-kidnapping of some VIP's who are attending a wedding in a cathedral in Manhattan. The perps all escape by a most ingenious method and it seems like they have committed the perfect crime, leaving the hero stumped as to who they were - that is until the final chapter which someone has bolted on in a sort of 'crime doesn't pay' way. I'll say no more but - sheesh.

The other is by Lynda La Plante. Again I've forgotten the title but it centres around a serial killer (yawn) who is always one step ahead of the law. He's suave, sophisticated, enjoys toying with the cops and everytime they think they have him cornered, he thwarts their plans. As we near the end of the book it seems impossible that the heroine, a young detective, will collar the killer - until, that is, she tracks down an old car the killer once owned and finds in it a single sequin from a T-shirt, like one from a T-shirt his last victim wore on the night she was murdered. Okay, so I've been a criminal defence lawyer for twenty-five years but my office cat could get the guy off on evidence that weak - but what does Mr Previously oh-so Cool do on the last page? Yup he confesses to everything. "It was me what done it Guv." The end. I was reading the last few pages while waiting for a train and nearly threw myself under the Glasgow/Edinburgh express.

I hope I haven't spoiled a read for anyone but, honestly, if famous authors are going to take our money by writing supposedly realsitic crime fiction at least give us a believeable ending. Rant over.

Last edited by WillieMcIntyre; 03-27-2011 at 04:07 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-27-2011, 04:14 PM   #2
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I hear you. I run into a lot of endings where I feel like there should have been more but not too many truly awful ones. One I do remember as being awful was another crime/thriller one. The protagonist was female and it was set in Miami. It has been awhile and I don't remember the title or author. Anyway, a main character gets offed AFTER the crime the book is about gets solved in a totally unrelated incident.
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Old 03-27-2011, 04:15 PM   #3
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The way A Clockwork Orange ended always annoyed me. The whole idea that people reach the age of 21 and then suddenly start thinking how great it would be if they settled down and had a baby, gave up all their childhood ideals.
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Old 03-27-2011, 04:54 PM   #4
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I really disliked the ending to I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. Enjoyed everything up til the last 12 pages or so when they tried to pull it off as a 'big brother' effect.
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Old 03-27-2011, 05:16 PM   #5
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The way A Clockwork Orange ended always annoyed me. The whole idea that people reach the age of 21 and then suddenly start thinking how great it would be if they settled down and had a baby, gave up all their childhood ideals.
Seconded. It was ridiculous for the guy to go from an out of control criminal to the perfect domesticated daddy. It also cheapened his previous actions and what he did to his victims. Really bad ending.

Another bad ending would be China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. I don't want to spoil, but everyone I know who finished it did a facepalm. Apparently that's true for all of Mieville's novels. It's so disappointing because the rest of the book is so good!
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Old 03-27-2011, 05:21 PM   #6
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I really disliked the ending to I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. Enjoyed everything up til the last 12 pages or so when they tried to pull it off as a 'big brother' effect.
The penultimate ending of that book would have been perfect.
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Old 03-27-2011, 05:38 PM   #7
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Several Stephen King novels had REALLY bad endings back in his druggy days. "Needful Things" and "The Dark Half" were particularly ridiculous. He's never been strong on endings, anyway, but those were just pathetic.

I thought it was clever of King, in "The Stand", to continue the novel for another 25% or so beyond the deus ex machina disposition of the bad guy. Gave people time to recover from the apparent divine intervention (I think I'm being vague enough here). That helped get things back on track for a satisfying resolution of the other plotlines.

That said, I can generally forgive a bad ending if the journey to it was enjoyable.
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:55 PM   #8
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If anyone is reading Harlan Corben's Tell No One, do NOT read the last few pages. The author felt compelled to throw in one final twist that unfortunately was one too many and nearly ruined the entire premise of the book.

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Old 03-27-2011, 09:30 PM   #9
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Endings are obsolete.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:48 PM   #10
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Books that end in a cliffhanger to get you to buy the next book in the series.

I don't find this as objectionable when the books in question are, basically, telling one story (i.e., LoTR, WoT), but I don't like it when books in a series that simply have the same characters do this.

The "Marla Mason" (an urban fantasy series) did this: the first 3 books were basically independent books with the same characters and universe, but were otherwise completely separate books (i.e., Hardy Boys style). The 4th book essentially began the same way, but when you arrived at the end, only one of the main plot threads had been resolved...the other was to be continued in the next book.

I haven't bought another book in that series.

Does no one read Aristotle anymore? I want catharsis! (And I want it now!)
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:06 PM   #11
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i don't mind cliffhangers as long as i have already decided beforehand that i will be getting the whole series, and reading reviews have already warned me of cliffhangers.

one book that i read that had a bad ending was when the main conflict was resolved due simply to the main character having a "misunderstanding." that's it, bye bye problems
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:22 AM   #12
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The last quarter or so of Ruchard Russo's Bridge of Sighs comes to mind. It took an otherwise brilliant novel completely off track. Unpredictable? Yes. Stupid? Definitely.
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:19 AM   #13
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endings, never read a good novel with a good ending. Read lots of series with the requisite "cliff hanger" endings to entice me to spend more cash.

I figure endings are what they are and try to overlook if the author just didn't have a clue how to end the book.

If I did have to pick an ending I just never have figured out, yeah I see a potential symbolic parallel for the ending but still I don't really get plus the whole final chapter felt like a bolt-on, that bad ending belonged to Stranger in a Strange Land. Of course Heinlein never did seem to want to end his stories. He could write people very well but end a book, not so much.

Neat thread.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:04 AM   #14
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I have one friend at work who never forgave me entirely for recommending Shutter Island to her. She absolutely hated the way it ended.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:18 AM   #15
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Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg.
Actually, I cannot say that the ending is bad. Rather, the ending is missing. It's a thriller, and in that genre you expect all mysteries to be resolved in the end. It's as if the author was afraid to make some choices, and just stopped writing rather than complete the plot.
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