How Much Can an Ending Ruin a Book/Movie?

I was reading a book this past week. One I was generally really enjoying. I tend to keep a running track in my mind of what I’ll be giving a book or a movie as I read or watch it. The baseline for me is a 5/10. The more I like it, the higher it gets (obviously). With this one, I was pretty sure it would be getting a 7 or so, but then as I got farther in, I began thinking it would be more of an 8. I was really like the plot progression, the science fictiony aspects of it were all working. There was about 10% left in the book according to my Kindle, which felt just right.

Except when I went to turn the page at the end of the chapter, and it popped up with the Acknowledgements, instead. I wondered if my Kindle had just done something strange, jumping ahead for a random reason. (It’s been known to happen.) But nope. The rest of the book was just a sneak peek at Book Two in the series.

I was quite upset, for a number of reasons. For one thing, I hadn’t been expecting a book two. Nowhere had it seemed like this was the start of a series, so it felt like a real sucker punch. But more than that, I felt robbed of a real ending. The one that existed just sort of . . . stopped. There was no real denouement. No real climax even. I mean, there had been a scene that was important to the characters. It was exciting, but it tied up nothing,. It didn’t bring any feeling of resolution to anything.

It just stopped talking.

And that ending alone tanked my rating of the book from an 8 to a 4. I wished I hadn’t read it to begin with. I can’t in good conscience even recommend it to other people, despite the fact that I enjoyed it for 95% of the time. Why not? Because I felt betrayed by that ending. I lost my trust in the author to know what a good story needs to satisfy its readers. Why in the world would I put myself through that again, even though the start of book two was right there. I could have bought the next book right away and just continued reading.

But I’m not going to. It felt like a cheap money grab, and I’m not rewarding that with any more of my attention.

I’m not going to tell you which book or author it was out of professional courtesy, but I’m curious if any of you have had similar experiences with a work. You liked it for almost the whole thing, but then the ending soured the rest of it completely. Thinking over my experiences, there have been a few times it’s happened to me, but nothing in recent memory. I know many fans objected to the ending of LOST, but to me that’s something different. The series had an end. It just wasn’t an end that satisfied some people.

Then again, it satisfied me, and so perhaps that’s why it feels different to me. I’m sure there are some who thought this book’s ending was just fine . . .


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