What is a “Good” Ending?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.

I love talking about book endings! I know that some people believe that an ending can make or break a novel, and I do think that can be true, but I don’t always need a strong ending to appreciate a story. That said, there are endings that have left a sour taste in my mouth and changed the way I looked at the rest of the book. I am not an author, but I imagine that endings are extremely difficult! I have read only one Stephen King (Misery) but I know that he is notorious for writing terrible endings, and he is a veteran author!

What are some books that had “good” endings for you?

The Fifth Season, Legendborn, and The Nickel Boys are examples of endings that left me with my jaw on the floor. It was clear that each of these authors went into these books knowing how they were going to end and there was incredible foreshadowing as a result. Some of my favourite endings are ones that the author hints at and if I were to reread the book I would see all of the signs of what is to come. I think that is a hard thing to pull off!

Melmoth has such a creepy ending and it still haunts me. So perfectly done!

One of the things I appreciated about romance is the guarantee of a happily ever after. I particularly loved the sweet ending in You Had Me at Hola, but so many romances could be included in this list.

What are some books that had “bad” endings for you?

Everything, Everything is a book that I was enjoying right up until the ending, and then it all fell apart for me and completely changed my opinion about the book as a whole.

The Initial Insult comes out in February and while I still enjoyed the book and think it is worth reading, the ending left me with more questions than answers. It is the first book in a duology, but I think the ending could have been stronger. I don’t need everything wrapped up in a tiny bow, especially in a series, but I would have liked a bit more from this ending.

The Light We Lost has what I felt was an extremely emotionally manipulated ending. I disliked the book throughout, so that may have had an affect on my feelings of the ending as well.

One True Loves is an example of a happily ever after that didn’t sit right with me.

I think that the endings of thrillers can be so subjective. I know I am not the only one who disliked the ending of The Turn of the Key, but just as many people loved it!

What do you think makes an ending of a story satisfying?

It really does depend on the book. I am open to most endings if they are handled well. I don’t need to have all of the answers, but give me something! I can appreciate both open and closed endings if they make sense for the story.

The most satisfying endings are ones where I am left in awe of an author’s imagination.

Is there anything you always hate in endings?

The one type of ending that irritates me is cliffhangers. I completely understand why an author would go this route, but it always annoys me. Maybe that is why I am so terrible at reading sequels?

I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes for a good or bad ending! Can an ending make or break a book for you? Let me know!

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19 thoughts on “What is a “Good” Ending?

  1. I might be wildly speculating, but I have found that authors who thought of an ending before starting the book has usually ended up writing really good books with a very satisfying ending. Neil Gaiman is known to do this quite a lot, and of course JK Rowling famously did that with Harry Potter. A bad ending does certainly spoil the whole book for me, as I am left feeling very disappointed that is had to come to this after all the time I invested 🙂

  2. Endings that are open-ended (not cliffhangers but open to the interpretation of the reader) or rushed, especially in standalones annoy me.

  3. Endings that aren’t always neatly tied up in a bow but can be interpreted where the characters go from there. Their happily ever after doesn’t always have to be fully resolved in words, though I like too if written well

  4. To me, a good ending means I immediately want to go back to book 1 and reread it all over again. Or it just leaves me sitting in awe.

    Sleeping Giants trilogy had me completely satisfied, I wanted to go right back to book 1 and read it all again. The Night Circus was another I didn’t love while reading, but the ending just left me open mouthed and wanted to reread it to fully understand everything. (Sometimes I dislike stories while reading them if I don’t understand everything, but once we understand it at the end, I want to start it all over again and see the things I missed! The Broadway show Hadestown also left me feeling that way.)

    And most recently, Addie LaRue left me feeling SOME SORT OF WAY, just like all choked up and not sure how to process anything. Thats a good ending to me.

    1. Sleeping Giants is my favourite series, so I completely agree with you there!

      I didn’t love The Night Circus either, but I can’t quite remember the ending. I will have to go back and look at spoilers for a refresher! Or maybe I need to reread and I will appreciate it more the second time around.

      Yes! If an ending leaves me emotional, then I know it was a good one.

  5. I totally agree with you, a book having a good ending really depends on how the author handles it! That is also why I didn’t do this weeks topic hahah, can’t really explain what I think is a good ending!
    Great discussion!


  6. I laughed out loud when you mentioned Stephen King, but it’s so true! He’s really good at the build up but when it comes to the end you’re like ‘really?! this is what you’re giving me after ALL that?’ They just never feel like they’re a justified ending to a good story. His short story endings are much better. Less set up to compete with, perhaps? 😅
    I also agree with you on Everything, Everything. I was enjoying the book too and then the ending just left me so disappointed. I couldn’t believe that was how she was going to leave it. I was like huh? What? No!
    Great discussion! 😃

  7. I don’t mind an open ending if it feels like it fits with the story.
    I hate a rushed ending where it feels like author’s thought “better wrap this up quickly” 😂

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