Do the Endings of Books/Series Affect Your Overall Opinion?

Thankfully I’ve been going through a lucky streak lately with some of the series that have recently come to an end: I’ve been falling in love with the first in a series, NOT have issues with the second book, and (since they’re most often trilogies) having great success with the last book! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this recent change in pattern because for a while there, I felt like all of my favorites series were ending with a less-than-thrilling conclusion.

I’ve also had similar experiences with individual books as well, whether it was the beginning or middle of a series or a standalone — I had some books with which I had “slow start” issues but then the book closed with a bang!

The issue I tend to be having lately is that the way these books are ending is obviously the last feeling of the book I have… And that tends to affect my overall feelings and the rating of a book or series. Of course authors and readers alike want the endings of their books or series to be memorable, but where I run into issues is I feel like I let myself be TOO affected by the endings and that seems to be all I remember. Here are some common occurrences for me:

THE SLOW START

I’ve read a lot of books recently that I felt started out a little slowly and then the endings totally made up for the slow pacing in the beginning! But wait, is that fair for the ending to “make up for” elements I didn’t quite enjoy in the beginning? Should fantastic endings really wash away the slower parts in the beginning of the book? I recently had an experience where I was overwhelmed with how much I loved the second half of a book (a total 5-star ending, in my opinion) and so when I finished and rated it on Goodreads, I immediately clicked five stars. When it came time to write my review, I remembered the slower start and the little things I had issues with in the beginning which ultimately led me to CHANGE my rating down a little bit. Only to 4.25 to 4.5 stars, but still. I didn’t think it was fair to give a book a five star rating if I wasn’t enthralled the WHOLE book.

THE SERIES ENDER DUD

Especially with the recent series finale of How I Met Your Mother (although not book related), it’s become apparent that the ending of a book or series really can affect someone’s entire opinion of the overall picture. There have been a couple different trilogies I can think of where I loved book one, even enjoyed book two, but the last book really disappointed me and I was incredibly upset at how the series wrapped up. The fact that I didn’t like the way the series ended actually made me want to not recommend someone else to even start it. I can’t suggest that someone else start a series if I was so disappointed with the way it ended.

THE “WTF JUST HAPPENED”?

Ever finish a book and you were just baffled that THAT was the way the book ended? Whether it was something totally out of character, a random twist, a too-easy cheesy ending, or a complete change of character personality, there are some occasions where I have enjoyed a whole book… UNTIL THE ENDING. Aside from a bad series ender, I think this is one of the most disappointing things to come across. It’s a terrible shame to enjoy a whole book and then hate the way it ended.

THE CLIFFHANGER OR OPEN ENDER

Personally, I don’t usually get upset over cliffhangers. I know a lot of people hate being kept in the dark until the next book and sometimes I do think cliffhangers make it difficult to remember exactly what happened before starting the next book because I have to remember EXACTLY where the book ended. Then again, cliffhangers may also help you remember EXACTLY how the previous book ended because you’ve been wondering the whole time!
More frustrating for me is an open ending. I like a good, solid, closed-book finish. There are some instances in which I know where the author truly was leading and I can fit the pieces together. There are other cases where a little too much is left open-ended and all I want is the author to tell me HOW THIS BOOK OR SERIES REALLY ENDED. Especially if it’s a series — I invested so much time to see how it ends and then I don’t really get to see how it ends!

THE 2ND HALF SQUAD

On the flip side, I always appreciate when an author totally turns a book or series around for the better! There are a few series where I enjoyed the first couple books but you can really see how much the author grew through out the series in terms of writing, plotting, character development — the works. I love seeing an author truly grow with their works!
Similar to the slow start, I also like when things really start to come together in the second half of a book! I may get impatient sometimes with slow starts or with a lot of set-up, but I feel like once the plot gets rolling and the book needs to start heating up the conflicts so they can be resolved, the pieces really start to come together and feel like a more cohesive story. Times like these I tend to finish a book and possibly change my review to increase my star rating.

So the big question is, does the conclusion of a book affect your overall opinion of it? Would you ever change your rating based on further analysis? If a series ends poorly, does that make you not recommend it even if the rest of the books were good? Or vice versa, if a series ends well but you had lukewarm feelings about the beginning, would that pop up on your recommendations list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In the meantime, here are some of the more positive experiences I’ve had with series enders and fantastic standalone enders! These are ones that I highly recommend and I don’t feel will disappoint! (Photos will lead you to my reviews!)

SERIES

    

   

(Technically hasn’t ended yet but each book gets better and better!!!)

STANDALONES

                 

24 thoughts on “Do the Endings of Books/Series Affect Your Overall Opinion?

  1. Angie

    Normally the ending of the series doesn’t really change how much I love the rest of them. Even though it’s not book related, I hated the end of HIMYM but can still appreciate the rest of the series. Same with Chuck and some other shows. And the only time it’s EVER happened with a book was with Allegiant. I’m still so bitter I just refuse to ever read the books again or watch the movies.

  2. Julie S.

    Yes, absolutely. If I didn’t like the conclusion, the whole book leaves a sour taste in my mouth. In the case of a series, I also feel like the whole series investment was a bit of a waste and feel awkward if I recommend the book to someone. I did like how you mentioned series that get even better as the author hones their craft. I love those 🙂

  3. Rebecca @ The Library Canary

    What an interesting discussion. I hate when a series that I love ends badly. For example, I loved the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver. Thought the first two books were so good. And then Requiem happened. I won’t say I hated it, but I really didn’t like it. So now, I’m kind of hesitant to recommend the series as a whole. The same with Divergent. I was not a fan of Allegiant. And now I don’t know what to tell people. The first two books are really good, but the third one, not so much? It’s so difficult. Because I truly do still have a lot of love for these series, but knowing how it ends and knowing that (for me personally) it wasn’t good, I don’t know how to talk about them anymore. I guess I’ve been telling people the truth: that I liked the first two books and didn’t like the last one and then letting them make their own decision on investing the time into the series. Most people I think will invest the time. I also know that everybody’s reading tastes are different so who knows? They may love how the series ends. So I think it’s unfair of me to completely stop recommending these series, you know? *sigh* Why can’t all the books just end the way I want them to???

    1. Katrina @ Bookish Things

      Rebecca,

      I felt the same way about at the Delirium books. I loved the first 2, and the last one irritated me. When I talk to people about those types of books I tell them I liked the previous ones, just not the last one.

  4. Jen

    Oh, totally! An amazing/shockingly bad ending will bump my rating up or down a star, for sure! Seems like I’ve read a couple lately where I’ve been like, “Whaaaaa???” at the end. It bums me out so much! (Totally agreeing w/ Rebecca on Divergent and Delirium. Sigh.)

  5. Katrina @ Bookish Things

    Hubby and I were just talking about this last night. I think it does affect my view on the previous books in some sense, but not too bad. I can say without a doubt that I loved books 1 and 2 of some trilogies, but hated the 3rd. I let people know when they ask about those series.

  6. Stephanie Scott

    Twilight is the worst offender of a series gone wrong, though I do regularly point out the merits of the beginning of the series which had so much promise and potential. I respect authors have the right to their creative choices, though some of those choices will either upset readers by going some extreme direction, or in the case of Breaking Dawn, gives a “fanfic” type ending that doesn’t make sense with the characters and world initially set up. You can’t please everyone, which is why it’s so subjective. I just want all the loose ends tied up with conclusions that make sense with the context of the books. Characters doing things totally unlike they have for 2-5+ books is frustrating, as is nothing actually happening in the final book except old characters reappearing to say “hi.” (sadly a major paranormal series did just that–and pissed off readers in a very HIMYM type way).

  7. D. @ The Nerdy Journalist

    Conclusions always impact my feelings about individual books but never the entire series. For example, I loved Divergent, liked Insurgent, and wanted to fees Allegiant to my guinea pig. Books are all about anticipation. We, the readers, thrive on the anticipation of the battle, the answer to the mystery, the hook-up😉 So, when we realize that we waited and waited for a bad ending (or a great one), it’s hard not to let our feelings encompass the entire book.

  8. Emma

    Slow starts really bug me, and I think poor endings can affect my overall opinion of a series. I’m one of the few who actually quite enjoyed Allegiant and how it ended. I wish it had ended differently, of course, but I did like what Veronica Roth did with it. I do think I can still enjoy the books, before, though, if I didn’t like the final one. But if I don’t like the first book of a series, I don’t see any point in reading the rest.

  9. Alison @ The Cheap Reader

    Oh absolutely they affect my overall opinion. The best example that comes to mind is Allegiant. I thought the other two books were a bit questionable but okay overall. Then I read Allegiant. I don’t think I would have even bothered reading the series had I known *that’s* how it was going to end.

    Thankfully thought most endings don’t make me that ragey. I only get slightly annoyed and can continue to enjoy the series.

  10. Kelly

    YES! While I wasn’t Divergent’s biggest fan, I enjoyed the first two books enough to call them “entertaining”. But after Allegiant, I could never recommend the series to someone without a disclaimer about how disappointed I was with the ending.

    Same goes for the Everneath trilogy. It got stronger with the sequel, and then the third book (to me, anyways) felt like a slap in the face. It was just so different from the first two, both in tone and in its focus on specific characters, that it didn’t even feel like the same series.

    I hate holding the final book against the whole series, but at the same time, how can’t I? Especially with most YA trilogies, where none of the books could stand on their own. They need the final two books to piece together everything, so if the final piece doesn’t fit, I can’t help but feel like the entire puzzle was a waste of time.

  11. Danielle @ Love at First Page

    A series ending, if it’s bad, unfortunately colors how I view the rest of the series from that point on. If I don’t like it, then chances are I won’t be reading ANY of the books in the series ever again. Like, if a character dies, or the romance doesn’t work out, I get really upset, and it irritates me that THAT is the way the author chose to leave her characters *forever*.

    I’m a lot like you – I don’t mind cliffhangers too much in sequels, but I really don’t like open endings. I like feeling satisfied at the end of a book/series.

    Thankfully I’ve read quite a few good series enders this year – The Bitter Kingdom, Sunrise, Into the Still Blue. Hopefully that trend will continue!

  12. Anne @ Lovely Literature

    I didn’t love Into The Still Blue. The actual ending was expected, which was fine, but getting there wasn’t as enjoyable as I knew the first two books were. So, that disappointed me, but overall I still would would give the series a high rating because I was totally invested in the characters.

    I don’t think one book can completely ruin the magic of a series for me if it was strong all the way up.

  13. Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

    Funny timing because I just saw the Divergent movie in theaters and it reminded me of how much I loved the first book. But Insurgent and Allegiant were such disappointments to me that I had been associating that series with negative feelings and found myself NOT recommending it. Whereas series that get better over time and end on a good note, I find myself associating with positive feelings and thereby recommending them. Take the Everneath series for example, I didn’t really care for Everneath but LOVED Everbound and enjoyed Evertrue. I don’t know if it is fair but that lasting impression does have an affect on me. This discussion reminds me of that quote “Good to begin well, better to end well” Great discussion!

  14. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

    Overall, I think it just depends on the book or series itself. There have been some series that I’ve LOVED but the ending I didn’t like–but I still really love the series a lot. And there have been others where I wasn’t happy with the ending and it kind of made me feel differently about the other books, but not too much. And then there have been even others where I LOVED the first book, really enjoyed the second but had issues, and then really didn’t enjoy the third at all. And that didn’t necessarily have to do with the actual ENDING of the third book–just more of the third book overall.

    Sometimes I change my ratings a bit when I’m writing the reviews, but normally I kind of give myself leeway right after I read the book. In my notes I’ll say, “3 stars? Maybe 3.5?” or something like that, so that when I review them, I know it’s kind of iffy. And there have been times when I look back at an old review, and I’m like, “Why did I give that book such a good rating? It’s really not that great compared to this book, and this book, and this book…” But I have so far kept myself from changing those ratings after I give my official rating on my blog or Goodreads. Because the way I think about it, I really loved that book in that moment, and it has nothing to do with the other books that I’ll read in the future that might actually be better. So even though I might not feel like that book is really a 4.5 star book now, it was when I read it, and that’s what matters.

    Great discussion topic! I’m going to try to start writing more discussions on my blog, because they’re so much fun to read and write and comment on!

  15. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    Oh yes, they definitely influence my thoughts about a book! I don’t mind cliff-hangers if it’s the first or second book, but I HATE cliff-hangers in the last book. I just can’t stand them. Disappointing endings can really let me down. Even when I loved a book, it can make all the excitement I felt go away. If it happens with the last book, I sometimes even lose all the love I had for the previous books. It just feels like such a waste of time, like with the Delirium series.

    Sometimes and ending makes up for the rest of the book, but it doesn’t feel right to give that book a high rating. I need to like everything about it. So I might add 0.5 stars if it’s really good, but that hardly happens. If I don’t like a book I DNF it, so sometimes I don’t even get the chance to see if it gets better towards the ending.

  16. Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages

    I think endings are incredibly important so they absolutely affect my opinion of the rest of the book or series. I’ve read books that I’ve loved up until the ending and then I’ve hated the book. I am a super harsh critic though. You can have a really great idea for a story, but you have to figure out how to end it and how to successfully get it to the end. If the first book or books in a series are good but the ending is less than stellar I would probably still recommend it, but with a caveat. And I would definitely recommend more well rounded books/series over books or series where one aspect, like the ending, didn’t work.

  17. Harriet

    Yes! The end is the most recent memory of the series/book so it will have the largest impact. Some are great, you know a good writer when they can come up with a non-predictable ending that ties up all the knots. Others are sadly not so great and ruin a good series so far; I hate it when there are big questions that still need to be answered.

  18. Amy @ bookgoonie

    It doesn’t usually change my opinion of the positive. But I’m also not as harsh on series ends as others. Mockingjay, Allegiant…I feel end practically & in keeping with where the story was going, even if I wished for something else. But I agree, there have been lots of awesome ends lately…like the end of The Girl of Fire & Thorns.

  19. Candice @ The Grown-Up YA

    With series enders that turn out to be controversial (Allegiant, Requiem, Mockingjay) it always makes me wonder what was going through the author’s head when she/he wrote these? Sometimes I think there isn’t a good, solid ending and you just have to write what is natural to the story, whether you like it or not. I personally like an ending that leaves me breathless, but also makes me think.

    The first that comes to mind (not a book though) is Angel’s series finale where there is no “finale.” I remember reading somewhere that it was symbolic of his work never truly being finished. This is how I’ve had to look at some endings: what would have satisfied me? A happy ending that is so OOC or an unfinished open end that allows the character to continue on?

    I think also enders, unless I’ve read the books back to back, can affect my entire outlook of a series. I have to remind myself of not only bad times but good. I like ones that make me think, but also ones that leave me satisfied with my overall view of the series at the end.

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