All the Endings: Books Finales that Disappointed Me

orangutan list

So I don’t know how much I mentioned it this month, but I’ve been doing a casual version of Nano and am currently at that stage of wrapping things up in my WIP. Which means I’ve naturally been fretting about it *a lot*. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I love endings and obviously I want this to be the culmination of everything I’ve been working on (although obviously first drafts suck and can’t be perfect… more on that another time…). My biggest fear is that I’ll have built up all this whole story and it won’t pay off- or worse, that the idea I had in my head was too crazy to begin with… Because we all know that feeling when you’re invested in something completely and then- BAM!- the ending just ruins it all. You know, the HIMYM standard of finales. Well, I decided to torture myself and think about all the ways an ending can go wrong:

captain corelli

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin– this, in my opinion, is an example of making a bad book worse. Even if you liked this book, the ending will make you want to scream loud enough to shake the Greek islands. It was so frustratingly unsatisfying.

thirteen reasons why

13 Reasons Why– again, it’s no secret I’m not a fan. That ending though- I genuinely felt like the book was building to a crescendo and it ended up turning down the volume. I also think blaming the counsellor was one of the worst “reasons” on the list and it did a genuine disservice to the profession (and people seeking help who fear they won’t be listened to).


Breaking Dawn– this book in general is *gagworthy*. There’s a werewolf falling in love with a baby, the most perfect of all the special snowflakes Bella turning into an even more perfect snowy skinned vamp and a lot of sitting round waiting for the scary, scary villains to turn up. But even with all that buildup, spoiler alert- though who even cares at this point- the big fight doesn’t happen. It’s the kind of ending that will make you want to smash it up and burn all the little pieces (incidentally that’s how you kill a sparkly vampire- you’re welcome for the tip 😉 )

ashes to ashes

Ashes to Ashes– this isn’t the worst book in the world- but GAH! What a flaming mess that ending was! Such a letdown! I very rarely think an ending ruins a whole book- much less a series- but this did just that for me. I don’t want to get into spoilers, so you can read more on why that was here.


STAGS– while the ending didn’t totally ruin my enjoyment, it was completely ridiculous. Some of this comes down to execution, but also the twist was a shade bonkers regardless.


Caraval– I had a lot of mixed feelings about this book- but one of my biggest issues was that the last twist was a twist too far. At one point every page turn was another acrobatic turn and that last one just landed badly for me.


The Fault in Our Stars– now this is far from the worst ending on the list, however, I make it no secret that I always found the twist too obvious from the first chapter and consequently didn’t find it impactful. Also, I know this would have been a bit on the gimmicky side, but I *loved* the enigmatic ending in the book Hazel loves and thought that was gonna be how the book ended the whole way through. This comes down to personal taste, but I was disappointed that never happened. If Green had gone there, I’d have been sold.

safe haven

Safe Haven– I actually liked this book- yet there was one major flaw with it that I couldn’t get behind and that was the so-called twist. Even though it was foreshadowed, it didn’t blend well with the kind of book it was and was frankly just a bit silly.

the wasp factory

The Wasp Factory– I liked this book overall- rating it 4*- nonetheless, I couldn’t get behind that ending. It didn’t work for me. It felt like a betrayal of a lot of the themes it was working towards. Again, I don’t want to spoil it, and wouldn’t have room to discuss it at length anyway, so you check out my review if you’re interested as to why I didn’t like it.

great expectations

Great Expectations– this one might seem a bit bizarre, because I don’t totally hate the ending and this is possibly my favourite Dickens… BUT the ending as we know it is not what Dickens intended and having read the original ending I have to say, I thought it fit better with the themes of the book. Still wonderful though.

So do you agree or disagree with the choices on this list? And which endings really didn’t work for you? Let me know in the comments!

83 thoughts on “All the Endings: Books Finales that Disappointed Me

  1. It’s interesting how some books seem to – well, fizzle. One I read recently was Stephen Baxter’s ‘The Massacre of Mankind’, the putative sequel to ‘War of the Worlds’. He’s a fantastic writer and I am a huge fan. It was a great read with a build-up to a huge dramatic ending that… didn’t exactly happen… It was all a bit meh in the last pages. It was credible in the sense that reality doesn’t match dramatic convention, and life goes on, so it gave the story a huge sense of being ‘real’. But that’s not what one might look for in a ripping yarn, which is basically the genre he was engaging.

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    1. I really relate to that. Oh that’s really disappointing. I very much relate to that feeling- sometimes I feel like books sacrifice that all-out dramatic and satisfying ending for something a little more realistic. I get where they’re coming from, but it can be a bit of a letdown.

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      1. Yeah I agree. The thing about Baxter is his writing is SO realistic and SO good that I both love and hate it – he is such a great writer and has such a fine ability to paint character and a realistic feel to their experiences that the sense of ‘escapism’ is sometimes lost. I remember, years ago, reading his book ‘Titan’, which was fantastic but also utterly depressing – humanity sends a one-way manned mission to Saturn as a last-ditch ‘let’s do some space exploration’ effort before Earth is wrecked by a war. You know all along the characters are going to die… but the end to it was a huge surprise (even though they DID die… I don’t think that’s a spoiler, really). Another one of his which I enjoyed was a bit more whimsical, his steampunk take on Verne (Britain gets antimatter-powered steam engines in 1851), but it was STILL there when it came to the gritty realities of character – he absolutely nailed the ‘suspension of belief’. Genius stuff.

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  2. I actually kinda liked the ending of STAGS and of Caraval, but I’m with you on Safe Haven and Breaking Dawn. I’ve only seen the movie of Safe Haven, but when the twist came I was like ‘whaaat’ – it came out of nowhere and was so silly. Have you seen the movie of Breaking Dawn? I remember when they all started fighting and people’s heads were getting ripped off, and I was like ‘huhh, this did NOT happen in the book’ but then it turned out to be a vision of what *could* have happened, which they whacked in to make the movie more exciting. It would have been so much more exciting if real haha.

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    1. That’s fair enough- neither of those were terrible books and my feelings on both of those come down to personal taste. hehehe I know- it’s just as silly in the book as the film (I’d already seen the film, but somehow had forgot the twist was coming cos it was so random- I’d have hoped it would have been better integrated in the book, but no). hehehe yes I’ve seen that- it was exciting for a bit- but then of course it went back to normal and I was disappointed 😉 I can never decide if it was better for nothing to happen (as in the book) or to show us all we could have hoped for only to take it away (as in the movie). But yeah, it shows even the movie makers thought that was a lousy ending 😉


  3. 😂 oh dear! I quite liked the ending to Great Expectations… but, I know it wasn’t what Dickens intended. He was told to change it because the newspaper that published the book in serial form thought it was too depressing and readers would be upset. So, I suppose, since it wasn’t the writer’s intention, it is a bad ending… but I’m quite glad it was a happy one. That book was depressing enough!!

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      1. 😂 sorrreeee… stole your thunder… was actually quite pleased with my comment too, like “finally, I have something relatively intelligent to contribute!”

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Like I said, I do like it, (I know it probably seems a bit weird to put a five star read on a book like this- I guess I’m a maverick 😉 ) I just would have chosen the other ending for how it brought all the themes of floundering expectations together. And yeah I know why he did it. For me, it’s not so much that it was the author’s intentions as it was that the original ending worked better with the tone of the story overall. hehehe but I hear you and don’t blame you for wanting a happy ending!


  4. Nice post! The ending isn’t everything, for example in The Fault in Our Stars, it’s the experiences they have that matter, with the ending not the most important. I do think that plot-driven books, however, rather than character-driven, must have a strong ending 🙂

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    1. Thank you! That’s fair- I guess it depends on the reader. I hear you when it comes from TFIOS (the trouble for me there was that I didn’t get as invested in it as I would have liked cos I basically said goodbye to the character the second I met him, cos I spotted the twist, but that’s just me).

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  5. Wonderful post! I find a lot of endings pretty forgettable, like literally I forget how a lot of books end. I’ve read 6 of these books and I only remember the ending of half. I love enigmatic endings, endings that make you work some things out yourself. They stick in my mind much longer than the neatly wrapped-up ones. Of course, if it’s a mystery leaving things unresolved would be pretty anti-climatic. So it depends on the story. I can’t think of any especially bad ones right now, but The Book of M has one of the best endings I’ve read in a while.

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  6. Oh that ending to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – what a stupid bullshit reason! I did like the book but that ending…

    I hated all of 12 reasons why – ALL OF IT – from the very first page but some of the nonsense at the end made me furious.

    Like you I guessed the ending to TFIOS pretty early on so the whole book felt like a tedious journey to the inevitable.

    I must have blocked the ending to Breaking Dawn but seeing how the book was a big pile of nope I don’t think it ruined anything as much as continued the theme.

    Anyway, great post 😊 always good to vent! 💚

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    1. YES!!!

      Yeah so did I- but I guess at the start I liked the premise- that ending was just the final nail in the coffin!!

      And that’s *exactly* how I felt about TFIOS too- so glad I’m not the only one!!

      hehehehe I actually had high hopes that the big pile of NOPE would at least result in a big battle scene… but nah, apparently it’s best to just leave on an anti-climax after slogging through hundreds of pages of pure trash 😉

      Thank you!! 😀 ❤

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  7. There’s a satirical half-act opera by PDQ Bach called “The Stoned Guest” in which all the dead characters inexplicably return to life and sing a rousing final number (consisting mostly of the words “happy ending”) in order to please the theatre-going public. That’s what I think of when I read the revised ending of Great Expectations or any similarly jarring happy ending written to please the Miss Prisms of the world: “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

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  8. Agree 100% on the ending to Corelli’s Mandolin. It’s rare that the ending to a book makes me physically want to throw the book away from me, but that did it! Agree on Breaking Dawn also, but the whole book was so bad that the ending didn’t feel like so much of a let down!

    My edition of Great Expectations actually has both endings, so I always think of them both as equally valid.

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    1. Ahh that’s what I felt like too!! I was *so annoyed* with it!!
      hehe totally fair- it’s just that a lot of the twilight books were terrible- but there was usually something to make me keep turning to the end- if I’d known where it was going I wouldn’t have bothered (actually I shouldn’t have bothered regardless- you’re right, that book’s a pile of trash).
      Yeah, mine did too- although when I read the happy one I was a bit dissatisfied and then I read the original and thought *that’s how it should have ended*. But of course both are valid and I can understand people liking both- I just like the original one a bit more.

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  9. “The ending will make you want to scream loud enough to shake the Greek islands.” Especially liked this line (I can definitely feel all the frustration)! Enjoyed this post! I’ve not read any of the Twilight books, but I’ve seen the “battle scene” of the movie for Breaking Dawn. If it doesn’t divert from the book, I can understand how anticlimactic it is…

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    1. hehehe thank you very much!! 😀 ❤ Well to give you an idea, the book version has the same ending as the book- EXCEPT without the battle scene at all (cos that plays out inside Alice's head and it's from Bella's POV). So they literally line up to face the Volturi, Alice comes along and lets the baddie (forgotten his name) read her mind and they all go home. The end. So yeah, it's pretty anti-climactic 😉

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  10. I feel that way about endings as well – I’m terrified when I’m writing my owns, that it won’t live up to the thing I imagined in my head or something haha and that it will just, fall flat, somehow.
    I agree with you about Ashes to Ashes, the series as a whole was great but damn, that ending disappointed me :/

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  11. There is nothing more frustrating that getting to the end of a 500 pager and not finding page 501; you know, the page that gives you the proper ending rather than the absolute let down load of old drivel that you’ve just read. Great fun post :O) x

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  12. Let’s see, i dnfed Caravel early on the story, so i can’t say anything about the ending. And I only ever read Paper town by John Green and the ending was very unsatisfying – and i was told that’s the way his storytelling goes – so i didn’t pick any other. Breaking Dawn, i admit i kept waiting for something to jump out at the ending, a twist that would provoke an epic fight, and like you, was disappointed. I kept wanting to turn a page that wasn’t there…. What else? Not sure, I usually forget about the books that have unsatisfying ends. But, there are books i enjoyed a lot and was sad to flip the last page .

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    1. I totally understanding DNFing Caraval to be honest. I’ve never found a Green ending satisfying, so I can understand that. I really thought something was coming with breaking dawn too- very disappointing. That’s totally fair- I think I’m the same- it’s kind of rare I remember an ending for being bad. I relate to that a lot.

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  13. I haven’t read any of these books except “The Wasp Factory”, which is actually one of my all-time favorites. I liked the ending of that book (even though the very last scene was a little too ambiguous for my taste,) the twist was cuckoo crazy and I thought it fit with the rest of the nuttiness well. 🙂 I’m glad you didn’t spoil what you didn’t like about the “The Fault in Our Stars” ending because I’ve been wanting to read it. Great list, I hope you end up writing an ending that you’re happy with (even if it takes several drafts to get it just right, which is usually the case.)

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    1. I can understand that. While it didn’t work for me personally, I see what you mean about it fitting with the nuttiness and couldn’t stop thinking about it regardless. I don’t think it was to my personal taste (that said, I still really liked the book overall and want to read more from the author). Great! I hope you like it more than I did! Thank you very much! That’s really kind of you to say! ❤

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      1. As far as Iain Banks’ books go, I advise that you avoid “The Quarry,” which was mostly a big waste of time. It’s the only one by him I’ve read other than “The Wasp Factory” and although I’m always interested in books with main characters on the autism spectrum, “The Quarry” wasted it’s potential with pages and pages of boring filler. I hear “The Crow Road” is outstanding, though. 🙂

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  14. Haha, i had the opposite with STAGS. Loved that ending. Reminded me of those super oldschool horror/thrillers from the 80s 😀

    13 Reasons… yea. I never got why the counsellor got all that blame. As far as i remember that poor dude tried his best, but he wasn’t an actual therapist. Or was he? Don’t remember.

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    1. heheh fair enough- it didn’t work for me- but that just comes down to personal taste 🙂

      Yeah I don’t think he was and he was actually trying to help her- so it seemed really unfair to place the blame at his door (especially for not noticing her haircut- cos, WHAT?! People get haircuts all the time).

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  15. Ohh the ending for Breaking Dawn was one of the first books which disappointed me really really badly. That ending was just so anticlimactic!
    I haven’t read many of the others on this list (besides The Fault in Our Stars and STAGS which I actually kind of enjoyed) but honestly 13 Reasons Why is never going to be on my TBR list so seeing it on your post isn’t making me regret that decision. 🙂
    Great post. 😀 ❤

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  16. Ah Twilight. There were so many other ways for that series to end (not that it would have made it a great series, but at least we wouldn’t have had a werewolf falling in love with a baby…. -.-) A little war might have helped the series out big time, but nah. Anti-climactic is just the right word. And I wasn’t a huge fan of TFIOS but a better ending might have helped me warm up to it. Lovely post!

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  17. Endings really can make a break a book as you note. Especially when you invest so much time into it and then it ends in a totally unsatisfying way. I kind of agree about The Fault in Our Stars, I figured that was going to happen too, but overall still liked the book. I took the enigmatic ending of the book she was reading to mean what happens after you die? Like you don’t know what happens because you can’t but also what happens with the folks that remain? There’s a bit about that she talks about near the very end of the book, the unknowing about the end and how life is like that, so I had interpreted it that way. 🙂

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    1. Yeah I really feel the same way. That’s fair- I didn’t totally hate that one, but it just didn’t work as well as I’d hope. Yeah I really liked that part of the book- I just wish it had been reflected in the actual story as well to be honest.

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  18. Interesting choices! I would have added the Epilogue of “Deathly Hallows” to this list. The happily ever after ending seemed … basic, after such an epic finale. My solution is just to not read it.


  19. YES!!!! to Caraval. Was completely underwhelmed, and it’s not like the rest of the book blew me away either. I am also not a fan of the TFIOS ending, but more because I completely did NOT see it coming and was a bit angry. The whole book I’d refused to connect with Hazel because I thought I knew what happened, so it lost a lot of the emotional impact, and all for nothing because she came off Scott free.

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  20. I didn’t know the ending to Great Expectations is not what Dickens intended…I’m interested to hear that story! (maybe in another blog post??) 🙂 Agree Fault in Our Stars was totally predictable. But that Green guy still knows how to pull on my heartstrings regardless. 🙂

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  21. It’s a good thing that we got to see the actual fight scene on screen because it was pretty exhilarating and probably the best part of the franchise. I can’t remember the ending of Mandolin, at all… out of curiosity, what was the original ending of Great Expectations?


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