Booking Through Thursday: Endings

If you could change the ending of any book you’ve read, which would it be and how would you change it?

As a reader, the only ones coming to mind are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and in short, I would’ve liked them to have happier endings–fewer deaths for Deathly Hallows and a happy ending for Tess because damn it, Tess deserved it! I haven’t wanted a couple to resolve their issues and end up together in a book so bad in years, and–spoiler alert–instead, Tess gets arrested for killing the man who raped her and manipulated her further later in life.

That said, as a writer, I wouldn’t really change a thing. Deathly Hallows needs to be full of death because there’s a damn war. Not everyone can make it out alive–in fact, some readers took issue with the end of the Twilight saga because it ended in a very anticlimactic confrontation in which nothing was really at stake–and story-wise, killing Lupin and Tonks paved the way for Harry to take on a Sirius-like role for Teddy. As for Tess, life is messy and people generally don’t just get away with murder.

I have a feeling I’ll hate the ending to the 50 Shades trilogy because I hear tell they get married in the end and Christian emerges a changed man. Which is fine–the problem is it’s unrealistic. The man’s presented as unreasonable and jealous to the point of being controlling and abusive, then suddenly he falls in love and he becomes less shitty? I don’t think so. That said, the ending to the first book was great because that piece of shit got his ass dumped.

Now, there is one ending I take issue with all around, and that’s The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Honestly, looking back, that is a pretty cool book. I plan to reread it, and I’m actually rooting for it in that maybe I’ll feel differently the second time around. But I have two gripes with the ending–the first is that (spoiler alert) the man loses his foot to frostbite, which is the bit I’m hoping sits better with me on a reread because I really have a hard time explaining why this is the part that loses me. I suspect it’s just weakly written because in terms of how that impacts the story as a whole–especially because we’re dealing with time travel–it’s a very logical thing to happen that’s bad but not huge but leads to other huge things.

But the real issue is the very, very end. Spoiler alert again! From what I remember–and it’s a little hazy–the man can’t control where he travels to (and also ends up being naked, hence frostbite) and he often ends up involuntary revisiting this meadow where he met/spent time with that wife of his, which actually leads to a pretty well-done circular time-travel story where he travels there because they’re important to him and to her, but his traveling there is how they meet in the first place. On one such visit (at both the beginning and end of the book because hey, TIME TRAVEL), he’s accidentally shot. But my problem is that he travels back there in the middle of party, and naturally he travels back to that party after getting shot. Now, first of all, your party guests are set for major WTF moments and emotional scarring, but there’s no way they just kind of let him die like that, and I could swear there’s a mention of emergency response to the situation. So my issue that the book almost completely glosses over any potential ramifications of this to the point that my suspension of disbelief tanks. How do you explain how he got shot? How do you get them to believe you? Doesn’t make sense to me.

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4 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Endings

  1. The only part I would change in the the whole of the Harry Potter series is the death of Fred. He’s not my favourite character, he’s not even close. But I just can’t bear the idea of George going on without him, and also because his is the only death I can’t understand. While I adore both Snape and Sirius, and countless others that gave their lives in that final battle, I can see why their deaths matter. Snape being alive while Harry knew the truth would be so awkward for both of them. Sirius had to die to maintain how much Harry had lost and to keep his ‘orphan’ status. Bellatrix, even though I love the feisty woman with all my heart, was evil she had to go, and lots of the Order because the good do die. It’s just Fred’s life that I think was unnecessary.

    I would change the ending of the Mockingjay. *spoiler alert* I get that Katniss losing her sister was heartbreaking, but she goes from such a strong, independent character, to a weak, depressed one, and I guess I wanted her to still have some sense of who she was.

    Books I have read recently I would change the endings of; the girl with all the gifts (really wanted Melanie to be cured, if not all the other children) and perhaps Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, I guess while the end was good, it wasn’t as shocking as I expected. I would have liked there to have been a bigger plot twist.

    On the Twilight front, I would change the whole series, not just the ending. Edward would be an actual vampire, and as such, he would kill Bella almost instantly after he falls in love with her. perhaps he spends the rest of his dead mourning about it. But as Bella is dead there’s nothing he can do. It would be a very short story.

    1. Totally get what you’re saying about “Harry Potter” and the deaths, and as devastating as Fred’s death was–including leaving George alone–I do think it kind of goes back to what I was saying about there being a war and not everyone being able to make it out. I feel like even if a fantasy series, part of the goal should be to craft a believable story, and as much as I don’t like it, a death that feels otherwise unnecessary to the story is part of that.

      I get what you’re saying on “Twilight,” too, as it’s a flawed series but I was just focused on the ending here. Although as far as vampires go, I think Anne Rice did a good job in her Vampire Chronicles series of vampires who handle humans pretty well without killing them. So I think it can be done and done well, but I’m not sure Stephenie Meyer is one of those writes who can do it well.

  2. I totally agree with your reasoning about Harry Potter. I haven’t read The TIme Traveler’s Wife, but anything involving time travel is a risky proposition. There have to be rules, and you have to obey them. That’s challenging for even the best writer.

    1. I think what bothers me the most with “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is up to the end, the rules were solid. And even then, the problem wasn’t so much the rules of time travel itself but the believability of the story and gaps in logic/reason/realism.

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