How Book Endings Impact Us

It isn’t often that I take the time to write out my own thoughts on anything besides an individual book, but I’m trying to do it more.
Musings about Book Endings…
Recently, I was talking to my husband about certain books and their endings and how an ending impacts our overall impression of a book. I typically don’t let endings ruin books for me, but I’ve been known to hate books due to their ending, like I did in Life of Pi by Yann Martel. My husband thought I was particularly unfair in my assessment of that book and, though I staunchly defended my position, I realized maybe he was onto something. After all, I was shocked when my father in law told me he disliked Catch-22 by Joseph Heller because he didn’t like the way it ended. I couldn’t understand how the ending was bad and how it could ruin the overall impression, but the more I think about it, the more I understand how the ending could be seen as disappointing. I argued in favor of the ending of Catch-22 and my husband argued in favor of the ending of Life of Pi and I realized maybe anyone could create an argument for bad endings actually being good endings.
It is weird how the way a story ends can change our impression of the story as a whole. Even when we think we are being fair, some endings can rub us the wrong way due to our own personal biases. If I take the time to reflect on a book with a bad ending and ask myself if it made sense or it made me react, I can sometimes understand why it ended the way the it did. If I took the time to do this with every book, I think some of my impressions would change. I really saw where my husband was coming from when he said he thought the ending of Life of Pi was actually brilliant. While I’m still allowed to hate it, I have to admit that having a such a strong reaction is probably a good thing and I should ease up on judging the rest of the book so harshly.
I try to be impartial, but it’s pretty difficult with literature. Every book is different and affects me in different ways and I judge books by different sets of standards depending on the genre without even realizing it. After all, a book rated low because it made someone angry or shocked or outraged is different than a book rated low because it was written badly. A book with a bad ending is also different than a bad book. Sometimes, I think it’s almost too simple to judge books on a 1 to 5 scale because there are so many factors and variables that change our perception, even if we are trying to be objective. Even though I think it’s hard to rate books sometimes and I know we aren’t always fair, I think it’s also kind of awesome to see how other people rate a book I’ve read. I’m glad to be a part of the book review blogging community because I feel like everyone’s personalities are reflected in their reviews and reactions of books.
I think it would be fun to discuss how certain book endings impact us, if it weren’t for the fact that sharing endings would be spoiling books for those who haven’t read them!
Have you disliked a book because of how it ended? Have you rated a book harshly because of an emotional reaction?

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