The ending of a book. We welcome it and dread it at the same time. A recent post I saw on bookstagram made me realize though, there are different ways books can end. They can wrap everything up in a neat little package or leave it open and keep us thinking. Those are the usual ones anyway. I also had to think about which kind of ending I prefer in a book, and honestly, as long as the book is good, I don’t mind how it ends.
Anyway, here are a few different types of book endings that I’ve come up with and how I feel about them.
Neat, happy little package
This is how we usually expect books to end, especially stand-alone books. After all, who doesn’t like a happy ending? It gives you a sense of completion and general happiness when the story is over. Sometimes you might want more because you liked the characters so much, or you just feel like it was a good story and that’s it… you’re good.
Sad, but wrapped up ending
Most of the time you wish this kind of ending happened differently, but then I guess it wouldn’t be the right story. And not all endings are happy anyway, right? Still, even though the ending is sad, you might still feel like it was a good story and hopefully aren’t wanting more (unless more of the story would make it a happy ending). I find that these books are the ones I’ll think about more in the weeks to come if the story was really good.
This is more of a subcategory of the previous two, because an epilogue usually wraps the story up for a definite ending. However, most epilogues are usually after a sufficient time-jump. Take Harry Potter… that epilogue takes place nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Some will take place only a few months after the final chapter. Still, this ending makes me think too because what exactly happened during that time-jump? I really want to know the years between the Battle of Hogwarts and the 19 Years Later epilogue. I’m not like this with this kind of ending, but some stories… I really want to know.
Open-ended to make you think
These endings are both great and horrible. On one hand, I love that the author leaves the end of the story sort of up to the readers’ imaginations, but at the same time… GAH! Because the book isn’t a series, you obviously aren’t getting more and will never know how the author sees the “real” ending of the story. There’s also just some of these kinds of endings that don’t necessarily leave the ending open to the readers’ imaginations, but it’s not exactly a wrapped up package ending either. You still wonder what happens afterward. These kinds of endings can cause me to have a book hangover if I really liked the book because I’ll keep thinking of different ways it could’ve ended.
One book in particular with a sort of open-ended ending is The Game of Lives by James Dashner, and I nearly threw the book a second time when I finished it because of this.
The absolutely most irritating ending of all. You need to know what’s going to happen next and you need to know now! Only… the next book doesn’t come out until next year. Thankfully these books are usually a part of a series, so there will be more to the story, but there are probably plenty of books that just end on a cliffhanger and left many readers angry. I hope there aren’t that many, but I could be wrong.
I will say that my favorite type of ending is probably the open-ended one. As irritating as it can be, I like it when a book will leave me thinking at the end of what happens next. A few books with that kind of ending that I enjoyed are:
- Standing By – Tabitha G. Kelly
- The Game of Lives – James Dashner
- Where It All Lands – Jennie Wexler
And a movie with an open ending that I absolutely love is Mean Creek.
What is your favorite kind of ending? Are there any others that I might have missed that you know of?