Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dear Author I Shall Not Name

A book really surprised me last night, but not in a good way.

I'd picked up a book by a new-to-me author. I liked the premise and the characters sounded fun. I enjoyed the set up of the story, the way I could see what the characters couldn't see coming. It's a romance and I thought the author had some unique twists and turns for her characters to face. The dialogue was great and for the most part their interactions were fun and honest. The story was working at a solid B+ for me.

Then I got to the last page.

I'd spent a few hours with these characters, I'd gotten to know them and I liked them. I wanted them to have their HEA (happy ever after). And I thought they were getting it - I liked the way the author was setting it up, another good twist (or so I thought). Then the last page exploded it all.

To me none of it made sense. The direction the last page took was in exact opposition to the characters & their goals & their feelings.

The author probably intended it as a cliffhanger (there is a book 2), but it didn't work for me at all. Not only would I downgrade the story to a D or worse, I will never read the next book. In fact I doubt I will ever read anything by this author again.

As a romance writer, I tend to prefer HEA or happy-for-now endings, but ambiguous endings can totally rock too (think The Giver or Possession). Above all the ending has to make sense and be true to the rest of the story.

This one didn't and wasn't & I felt cheated out of the hours I'd spent with the book.

Okay, rant over. No, I will not reveal the book or author, nor will I write a review - I only comment on books I've enjoyed enough to share. But I probably will stew over it for a little while longer.

And you can bet I'm going to be looking more closely at the endings for my own stories!

How about you, do you get annoyed by shocker endings? Do you have things that turn you off authors forever too?

54 comments:

  1. I have to say that YEARS ago, I read a book where the words were as smooth as butter, characters were incredibly engaging, I was there you know--in the setting, and then I get to the end. Wham! The ending did not "end up" where the story pointed. I was angry and sad.

    I won't name the book either. :)

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  2. I think that each book need to be somewhat complete and satisfying in itself, even if it's part of a series. Even if it's a cliffhanger, there should be certain resolutions to the conflict. An unhappy or ambiguous resolution -- okay, if it's done correctly.

    But a screwball thrown onto the last page just to make you buy the next book in the series -- no, that's manipulation and I hate that.

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  3. I hate it when that happens, so I'm right there with you on your rant, Jemi. That is so cheating to try to get someone to buy the next book, when, if the author hadn't done that, you probably would have bought the second book anyway. And now you won't.

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  4. Teresa - and you remember it well! I think I'm the same - not going to forgive this one easily!

    Dianne - that's the word! Manipulation! I felt used at the end *sigh*

    Karen - thanks! Exactly. I would definitely have bought more by this author - I liked her style, but now? Nope.

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  5. Bad enough it was a downer ending, but out of character and out of the blue is wrong. I need at least a satisfying ending.

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  6. So what happened in the end? They cheat on eachother? :) Some writers really think they're smarter than they actually are :)

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  7. I know! If it doesn't make sense, if it doesn't fit with the rest of the story, it makes you feel cheated! Parallel by Lauren Miller is one that had a killer twist ending, but it fit.

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  8. I haven't read a book where the ending totally killed the book for me, though there are some ambiguous ones I thought could wrap things up better. Sorry you had that experience with the book you read.

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  9. It drives me crazy when that happens! Ugh. I can see why it would bother you so much. The entire purpose of a story is, well, to tell a story. Not to set readers up so they have to by the next one (and the one after that) in order to have any resolution. I hope you enjoy your next read much better!

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  10. I can't remember an ending off the top of my head that totally turned me off, but I'm sure it has happened.

    I do remember a certain very well-known and raved about fantasy series where the main characters kept dying. I gave it up and never returned.

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  11. Alex - me too! It has to make sense!!

    Dezzy - no - but suddenly a new guy pops into the picture and says "try me". Grr.

    Margo - and I can deal with that! If it fits and it's a super twist I'll think about it for a long time!!

    Natalie - thanks! I don't usually find them that out of the water either. Thankfully!

    Caryn - thanks! I've grabbed one from an author I love dearly so I'm sure I'll be happy!! :)

    Michelle - that would be hard too! I get soooo attached to the characters. Hate when they keep dying!

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  12. The author probably wanted a major twist ending and something different. However, forcing characters and situations never works.

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  13. I can't think of one off the top of my head, but I can remember disliking an ending for this reason. Like you said, it has to fit with the story!

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  14. Hmmm ... I'm wondering how this book got published in the first place with such an unsatisfactory ending - especially for a romance. And WTF was the author thinking?? Honestly, I positively HATE endings like that!!

    But Jemi, I like your style in that you did not mention the book or the author's name, nor would consider writing a review. I wouldn't either.

    Despite that, when all is said and done, I guess reading and writing is all perspective.

    Doesn't help us pulling out our hair strand by strand though :)

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  15. 'Shocker endings' aren't necessarily a problem--provided, as you say, that it matches with the characters and the story.

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  16. Diane - exactly. I was so thrown I actually read the last page several times to make sure I got it right!

    Janet - exactly! If it fits, I'm okay with it, but this one was so out of left field!

    Wendy - thank you! I love knowing when I read a romance I'll get my HEA. If it's not a romance it can have any ending and I'll be okay with it - but it has to fit!!

    Nas - they're a pretty high priority for me too! :)

    Jeff - that's what threw me off so much. To me the ending was completely bizarre!

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  17. Hi Jemi -- I don't like cliffhangers in novels. I tend to read mysteries and thrillers, so I like the mystery resolved and the protagonist free and happy. I was not happy about the cliffhanger Lee Child tried in one of his Jack Reacher books, and one of the best debut books I've read in a long time (by a totally different author) killed off the main character at the end. That was disappointing, even though it made sense. So yes, we do need to pay attention to endings and to reader expectations for our genres.

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  18. Pat - me too! I get really stressed about endings that don't work. I guess I'm a bit of a sap - I do like my happy endings :)

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  19. Hey Jemi,

    How's it goin', eh? First of all, thank you for explaining what "HEA" meant.

    I can understand your disappointment with the ending to that book.

    Writers who do run-on sentences, do my head in. No, I wont start writing a run-on sentence. I also lose interest in a book when there's a glaring error in the research.

    Take care, eh.

    Gary :)

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  20. Gary - I figured a lot of non-romance readers might not know HEA! :)

    Yes! Both those things can drive me nuts - especially the research one. gotta put in the time!

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  21. Was this a self-pub, or micro pub? I'm wondering how that passed edit, if it truly was that bizarre.

    I think this happens more with movies than books.


    - Eric

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  22. This topic immediately makes me think of The Haj, by Leon Uris. I absolutely loved the novel, but then it all fell apart in the last 50 pages or so. All these characters I'd grown to know and love started acting so weirdly and out of character, and the whole storyline fell apart, unraveled, and went off in a really bizarre, insulting direction. It's like Uris felt or were told it were getting too long, and so decided to just end it as fast as possible instead of taking the time to bring it to a proper conclusion with some extra pages.

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  23. I read a book like that recently, too, The ending totally ticked me off, and made me sorry I'd put the time into reading the darned thing. The ending made the whole rest of the book a big fat lie. Not a darned thing happened the reader thought happened. GRRRRR. It was as annoying as watching an entire TV series, and finding out on the final episode that the whole series has just been someone's stupid dream.

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  24. Ahhh I want to know what book it was! And yes, I agree, the book must be natural and must come natural, even (maybe especially) during the last few pages.

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  25. yep, I recently read a story that made me feel completely cheated at the end. Thank goodness is was only a short story!

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  26. Eric - good question! To be honest, I rarely look at the pub - I'll have to check that out!

    Carrie-Ann - I don't know that one, but that's too bad. The story has to follow its own flow and it's frustrating when these things don't happen!

    Susan - exactly! Flashback to an 80s TV series!!! I just want it to all make sense!

    SC - sorry! :) Natural would have been the ending I wanted to happen!

    Lynda - that's bad enough - there really is a cheated feeling!

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  27. Hi Jemi,
    I agree, an ending doesn't have to be "happy" but it must be satisfying. It sounds like this author was just trying to set up book 2 and make people want to buy it, but it backfired. I wonder that her agent/editor didn't see this coming??

    I'm a sucker for a happy ending but sometimes not-so-happy but ambiguous works, like The Giver, as you mentioned. And I could think of tons more if I had time.

    I sure would like to know who this was so I won't make the same mistake, but I understand your reluctance to reveal.

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  28. I guess it depends. Sometimes I like shocker endings. For example, I'm one of the few who loves the ending to Gone with the Wind. I cheered for Rhett that he finally said enough was enough. And it was so true to Scarlett's character to declare she wasn't going to give up. I think if the ending is shocking and maybe not the most popular choice, the characters MUST stay true to who they are. I think that's what made GwtW's ending work so well. The two main characters acted exactly as they had throughout the novel.

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  29. I do not like when the end doesn't seem to match what has been happening. I don't mind surprises- but they need to make sense. I also don't like when a book isn't wrapped up enough for me. I like series- but each book should be given a logical ending and enough to make you want to read the next one (all the Harry Potter books came to an ending where I felt satisfied, but I couldn't wait to read the next books when they came out).

    Have I read any books where the ending ruined the book for me- yep a couple come to mind. Such a letdown and I never read any of the sequels to those books of other books by those authors.
    ~Jess

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  30. Yvonne - exactly. As long as the ending makes sense, it works, even if I prefer those happy endings!

    Laura - and that's when the shocker works! I've never read GWTW although I hear so many good things. Have to fix that one day!

    Jess - Rowling did SUCH a good job of writing those satisfying endings within a series! :)

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  31. Surprised the editor didn't throw that ending out. Hate to see somebody ruin a good book in the last couple of pages...

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  32. I had an author do that do me in a series. I had read the first couple of books, might have been four or more, that revolved around this couple. At the end of the last book I read, the author killed off the guy. I never read anything by her again and never will. I wasn't expecting happily ever after but never ever after ended the story to me.

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  33. Elizabeth - exactly! I was totally enjoying the story until then!

    Susan - AH! That's awful!! I'd be a wreck after spending that much time getting to know and like them! So frustrating!

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  34. I think there needs to be some resolution even if there is a next book. Good for authors to know the opinions on these kind of not good kind of shocker endings!

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  35. There are three name authors I will never read again because of their endings. One is in the broad mystery genre, two are in the broad romance genre. I'm willing to forgive a new author and will try the next book if I enjoyed the overall style and story of the first. But I'm unforgiving of a seasoned author published by a Big Six publisher. I feel used.

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  36. You know, this is something I've been thinking about. I'm plotting the next project, and I have an idea for the ending that may or may not be good. I want it to be unexpected, yet we can turn unexpected into unwanted. That's not good.

    I felt the same way about Nicolas Sparks' "Dear John." The ending wasn't pleasing at all, but the moviemakers fixed that for the film version!

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  37. Kelly - I agree - shocks that make no sense are just irritating!

    Carol - good point. I'll have to check if this author is new or just new-to-me. I did like the rest of her style. Thanks for pointing that out!

    Julie - exactly. Twists and turns and surprises are awesome - as long as they work. Not always easy to tell what will work tho!! Glad they fixed it for the film!!!

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  38. It is really tragic when that happens with a book one knows they could love. Endings are so hard, and let down ones are terrible.

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  39. Jack - exactly. I'm still annoyed and it's been several days. I did read a book from one of my fave authors in order to get over it! :)

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  40. I don't like surprises that are abrupt and don't make sense. It sounds like this book needed some foreshadowing or something more that segued into this ending.

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  41. Medeia - I agree. I do like a good twist especially when I can look back and see the clues building! but not this time...

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  42. Like you, I only comment on books I've enjoyed. It's great to do as you're doing, noting what you don't like and carrying it over to your own writing. I try to do that, too, so I can learn from it.

    Hope you're having a nice summer! :)

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  43. I was following a thread on twitter a couple of weeks ago, where people were discussing whether a romance book had to have a happy ending. And the overall consensus was Yes! I think when you pick up a book in a particular genre, there are certain expectations that are dangerous to mess with. Sounds like this author did that with poor results.

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  44. Dawn - thanks! Good point - might as well learn from others. Hope you're doing well too!

    Beth - I agree. There are times I need that HEA so I read a romance. Please don't mess with my expected HEA! :)

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  45. Hi, Jemi,

    Thankfully, I have never read endings that were as far OFF as the book you had read. I most likely would feel the same exact way.

    As you said.. you invested so much time with these characters, why kill the story with an unsuitable ending?

    Sorry you had this experience. Hopefully the author will get it together. Is this a self pubbed book? Or a publisher? If a publisher, I would really be surprised that they didn't catch this... self pubbed, sure. Perhaps you should write a letter to said author... ONLY if it's a self pubbed book. You may be able to open her eyes to her mistake. I know you're angry now, but sometimes we as writers miss our mark...

    I'm all for the positive, Jemi.

    Thanks for the post.

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  46. Michael - me too, I don't generally too much on the negative but it did irk me more than a bit! :P

    I really didn't notice if the book was self pubbed or if there was a publisher. I'll have to check it out :)

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  47. Oooh, good point! I like HEA endings, but they don't have to be happy. BUT they DO have to make sense. You have to stay true to the characters. If a character does something surprising that's okay, but not if it's completely unbelievable.

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  48. I read a book a couple of years ago which I had enjoyed, and it seemed to be building to something great but the ending was really just nothing. It didn't explain anything about what happened and left me completely unsatisfied.

    It certainly makes you think about your own writing, so at least positives can be taken from it.

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  49. Lisa - exactly - surprising is good but not like this!

    Heather - that would drive me nuts! You'd be looking for those extra pages! :)

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  50. And that's the reason I won't rate books...or recommend books...until I read the last page. I too have LOVED books all the way up til the very end, and then it has been ruined by an author's quest for shock value. And I also don't like cliffhangers. Like Dianne expressed above, I prefer my books to be complete and whole within themselves.

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  51. DL - I agree! I won't be having any cliffhangers in my series! The books will definitely be complete units! :)

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  52. I'm with you, Jemi. As a reader I feel duped if I'm led in a certain direction that doesn't pan out. And if there's sequel planned it makes me even more annoyed, as if it's just a ploy to get me to buy the next book.

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  53. Talli - exactly! I like series but I prefer each book to be complete - or at least to let me know before I start that it won't be!

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