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.