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