As a teen, I gravitated towards the tragic climaxes. If the main character or his pet turtle died at the end, I would bawl my eyes out and smile with satisfaction.
AJ Cronin and Victor Hugo were my go to authors at the time, because of the poignancy of their books, like Hatter’s Castle or Les Miserables. So much drama, so many horrid deaths…
More recently, novels like The Sounding, Gone, Baby Gone or even Godchild offer heartbreaking endings. I love them.
Why do I enjoy sad endings? Because they are more memorable.
Look into your bookshelf. I bet most of the books you remember are the ones that don’t end with a happily ever after. And when you think about others, mega successful ones like The Fault in our Stars, or Me Before You, they touched people and are going to remain in their memory because of their tragic ending. Would they have found the same triumph had the stories finished with a neat pink bow?
Of course, I also enjoy happy endings, because they give me a boost and a more positive outlook on real life.
Sometimes, I don’t want to read anything depressing. I want to read something uplifting, and believe that good prevails in this world. So the killer gets found, or a couple finally get together, or the protagonist finds peace and serenity in life. That is satisfying too. From the light chick flick to the suspenseful thriller, a happy ending means all is resolved, and the emotions you might have felt throughout the story can settle with a long sigh.
But more importantly, sad or happy, the ending has to be intense and somewhat unexpected, so I can close the book and return to the real world with stars in my eyes.
Which ending do you tend to favour?