by Matthew Del Busto
Books are like friends that leave us too soon. After only a chapter or two of a great book, we find ourselves walking alongside the main character, cheering for them every step of the way. Below are some classic reactions to the ending of a great book.
1. The Jaw Drop
Description: Wow. You never, ever, ever would have predicted that the book ended like it just did. You’re still in shock, trying to lift your jaw up from the floor.
Pros: An ending like this will leave you thinking about the book for a good, long while.
Cons: Your jaw hurts from hitting the floor so hard.
2. The Aggravation
Description: Some authors just go about their way, making more and more twists and turns, and they leave so much unsettled at the end, surely laughing to themselves as they think, “I’m going to leave 47 loose ends for you, poor reader.”
Pros: Great for discussing, “What do you think happened?” Also, a book like this is bound to have been an exhilarating read.
Cons: Frustrating, frustrating, and more frustrating.
3. The Shocker
Description: Some authors like to turn the entire story on its head at the very end, like making everything out to be a dream, a hallucination, or a situation that never actually happened.
Pros: I have to give props to authors when they do this well—it’s pretty brilliant.
Cons: You might feel like you’ve had the wool pulled over your eyes. Did I just read all of that just to be told it never happened?
4. The “I’ve Been Cheated”
Description: Likely through no fault of the author, some books look like they have a lot of pages left in them but are actually just recommendations for further readings, a Q&A with the author, or something like that, leading the story to finish even when there’s still 20 pages left in the book you’re holding—a sure recipe for heartbreak.
Pros: Recommendations for more reading, I suppose.
Cons: What happened to the rest of the book?! This causes a lot of agony, and my heart has sunk on seeing the last page too soon too many times.
5. The “Throw the Book Across the Room”
Description: Some authors just like to have it their way and do something plain crazy at the end. Sometimes, throwing the book across the room seems to be the most humane thing to do.
Pros: Potential for lots of discussion.
Cons: Why, author, must you end the book as you do!?
6. The “Reread the Last Page 18 Times”
Description: Some books are so good and end so well that you are just 100% not ready for them to be over. So you re-read the last page again, then the last chapter, then, heck, you just flip to page 1 and start over.
Pros: These books can be tragic to finish, because you never want them to end. Still, this is a sure sign of a great book.
Cons: It’s the last page of a great book!
7. The “Immediately Google When the Sequel is Coming Out”
Description: Getting to the final book in a series can be both an ending and a beginning. It’s the end of one book, but the beginning of frantic searches to figure out how you can get your hands on the next one.
Pros: Great book, and there’s more to read out there somewhere!
Cons: The wait between finishing book 1 and the release date of book 2 is sheer agony.
8. The “Did You Seriously Just Kill That Character?”
Description: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes to mind. (How could it not!?) A late death of a fan-favorite character makes everything else that happens at the end seem irrelevant. (If Dumbledore’s gone, nothing else matters!)
Pros: It’s hard to find something good to say about a favorite character dying. At the very least, the author must be talented if they are gutsy enough to kill a main character (perhaps?).
Cons: There’s the obvious anger, frustration, sorrow, and grief over the death of a beloved character.
9. The Unsettled Feeling, But Hopeful Sequel
Description: You know the type. Everything seems to be wrapping up pretty well during the falling action, but in the last few pages, the author nudges you, reminding you of the loose end they never closed, and the book ends with you questioning how “resolved” things really are after the resolution.
Pros: If it was a good book, then, hey, you very well may get another one!
Cons: Some of us just want nice, well-written stand-alone books. Why does every good thing have to be milked for a sequel?
10. The “AHHHH!”
Description: This is a true cliffhanger. Seriously, in this kind of book, someone may quite literally be hanging off a cliff at the end. Some authors just love to finish books mid-scene, letting you guess what’s to come.
Pros: A book like this is certainly engaging until the end!
Cons: It can be really frustrating to read a book left so open to interpretation. But, some people love it—this could be a pro just as much as a con.
11. The Speechless—“No words. Simply no words.”
12. The “Call Your Friend Immediately”
Description: This one is a bit similar to Number 7, in that the ending to this book deepens the action. Instead of being content with knowing when the next book is coming out, though, a book like this demands discussion. Like, right now. After finishing it, you immediately call your friend who is also reading the book and begin discussing it for hours.
Pros: Any book like this would be a great fit for a book club! And it must be a good book!
Cons: Your friends may get upset at your incessant nagging to talk about the book.
13. The “Crawl in Bed and Sleep for a Week”
Description: Books can be emotionally exhausting to read. You’ve rode the highs, plummeted along with the lows. You’ve finally finished, gripped by every page, and there’s nothing left to do but take a well-deserved week-long nap.
Pros: These novels are powerful and gripping.
Cons: You’re exhausted, just plain beat.
14. The Great Relief
Description: This list has largely been written with good books in mind, but let’s not forget the ones we drudged through for a college class or at a friend’s recommendation, hoping that maybe the next chapter would be a little more exciting.
Pros: Finishing a book like this is kind of like stepping off an airplane after you’ve been cooped up for too long—the sun is shining and everything seems so nice on the outside.
Cons: You’re still shaking your head at reading 472 pages of something you just didn’t enjoy.
15. The Golf Clap
Description: Some books are “good books”—nothing more, nothing less. They deserve mild appreciation after being finished, and perhaps a recommendation or two to friends.
Pros: It’s a solid book, and you’re pleased with yourself for finishing it.
Cons: You may find yourself reading another book 3 years down the line, finding by chapter 5 that the book is familiar…too familiar. Lo and behold, you forgot this was your “Golf Clap” book and you accidentally began to re-read it.
Books are powerful objects, and they can move us in powerful ways. Surely, there are innumerable reactions you can have to finishing a book. If you have any other favorites, tweet us at @TanglewoodPub or comment below! I’d write more, but I’m off to read!