Lola’s Ramblings: What Makes a Good Book Ending?

Posted July 23, 2015 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 28 Comments


Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me or ramble on about a book or non-book related topic. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. This feature was previously known as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from My Limabean Designs.

When I reviewed Killer Frost I mentioned how I thought the ending was perfect and it got me thinking about what I like to see in book endings. What makes a good ending and what things don’t I like? Then later a commentor adressed the topic of different kind of endings in reply to another series ending review on my blog, so I wanted to include that in this post as well. Today is all about book endings, so mostly standalones or last books in a series.

What do I think makes for a good book ending?


  • Wraps things up. I like endings that wrap things up, or at least wrap up the most important plot threads. I don’t mind it if a few subplots are left open ended, but I prefer if most plots will be wrapped up and I don’t be left guessing. It can really me annoy me if an ending seems to forgot to address a certain plot or subplot and it doens’t feel resolved. So in general I vote yes for wrapping things up and I enjoy endings that neatly wrap up the plot and story.
  • Resolution. I like for ending to provide some sort of resolution or solution to the main problems or storylines. If there is a main enemy or main problem, I like I when that’s solved one way or another towards the ending. I don’t like endings that bring no resolution to the main issues.
  • Evokes Emotions. I like when a book ending evokes at some emotions. I am not a very emotional reader and probably aren’t going to cry or laugh out loud, but I love it when an ending can make feel something. I have read a few happy endings that give me a warm and fuzzy feeling or a book that just leaves me happy and content when I finish it, satisfied with how it ended. I prefer some emotions to an ending that leaves me cold.
  • Ends with a bang. I often prefer endings that have some big event or bang towards the end. Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep did that very well, there was this big battle right before the end and the whole series was building up towards it and it was epic and really ended the series with a bang. I like that, although I don’t think every book needs to have it. For contemporary romance the bang often consist of the obligatory break up and make up, please I prefer a ending without a bang if that’s the alternative.
  • Gives a feel for what the future will bring. I like endings that give a feel for what the future will have in store for the characters, a view of what happens next. Like they continue to train or they will live here and built a family, that sort of thing. I like to be able to picture their future and accept that picture as an ending and while the book has end know that their story continues and being able to form a picture of what that story will be. I like it when books go on beside the bang ending to let the reader know where the characters will end up. Jennifer Estesp does this really well in her books, showing the aftermath of the main event and painting a picture of what happens next to the characters.
  • Happy Ending. Happy endings make me happy and are one of my favourite type of endings. While ofcourse they have to fit the book, but in general I think happy endings are a good thing and I probably will like an ending better if it’s an happy ending. Not everyone or everything has to be happy, but just the overal feel be happy or hopefull/ uplifting.
  • And ending that fits the book/ series. This might be the most important one of them all, I want an ending that fits the book. Jennifer Etspe her Mythos Academy series features big battles and a sense of danger, so the big clash at the end and then wrap-up fits the series. On the other hand if you have a contemporary romance series where there’s suddenly a big battle towards the end and people dying and killing at the end, it wouldn’t fit the book. Or when a pretty despressing book suddenly comes up with an over the top happy ending. This one can pretty much veto all the other points, I want the ending to fit the book and make me happy because it fits, not jar me as the ending doesn’t fit the book.

I don’t think a book needs to have all of these to make for a good ending, I usually am already happy when an ending manages to do one of those. And in some cases it’s more what fits the book or not and all the other points are irrelavant.

Happy, sad, realistic and open endings

the rearranged lifeI think there are roughly 4 ways to categorize an ending and most endings fall in one or more of these categories: happy, sad, realistic/neutral or open endings. My preference goes to happy endings as I think everyone deserves a happy ending and it just maks me feel good when a book has an happy ending. Then after that I would go for the realistic/neutral ending, as with some books a happy ending just wouldn’t be realistic and I rather have a realistic ending in some cases than a forced happy ending that doesn’t fit the book. Then next are the open endings and my least favourite would be sad endings. Ofcourse this is very general, what I think is most important is that an ending fits the book, sometimes a slightly hopeful ending fits a series more than a happy ending ever would. And while I used to detest open endings I think they can be done well. I always used to dislike endings that leave too much open as I don’t like having to fill in all the blanks, I want some sort of closure. I recently read a book that had an open ending, which really worked and have since then I have come to belive that open endings can be done well. The ending ended on a hopefull note, but it wasn’t a happy ending, it left things open, but I liked it. I think it’s not open ending itself that bother me, but books that just seem to end suddenly without any resolution or wrapping things up. I don’t like sudden endings. The rearranged Life managed to leave things open, but wrap a few things up and end hopefully, so with some positive emotion. And sad endings can just make me sad, but now that I mention this I can’t remember a lot of books that really have a sad ending, so on the other hand it would be original way to end a series. It’s not that I hate sad endings, it’s just that I prefer happy endings as I usually have come to care about the characters by that point and want them to be happy. I also think that the more I care about the characters the more I want that happy ending for them, while a sad ending is easier to accept when I didn’t really care about the characters anyway. So I think all of these are good endings, it just matters how they are done and if they fit the book, but still I will always love happy endings.

What do you think makes for a good book ending? What’s your opinion on happy, sad, realistic and open endings? Any books with these type of endings you have read?


28 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: What Makes a Good Book Ending?

  1. For me — I think good endings are emotional. Weirdly, I’m not very fond of happily ever afters — actually, some of my favourite endings have been a bit bitter sweet. They’ve reached their goals, but at the same time they’ve lost a lot to get there. I think that’s why I adored the last Harry Potter book so much. It had the perfect ending for me. I don’t mind open endings, either — just as long as there’s enough wrapped up for me. Lovely discussion!
    Kara @ Diary of a Teen Writer recently posted…What Should I Read Next? (1)My Profile

    • I agree I like emotional endings. The ending of Harry Potter I would still describe as happy, although I understand what you mean, it’s not completely happy as they lost so much. I like those endings that are hopefull/ uplifting and they achieved their goal, but also went though a lot of effort and pain to get there and even lost some on the way. Harry Potter definitely had a good ending.
      I agree open endings are good as long as they wrap up a few main things at least.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What Makes a Good Book Ending?My Profile

  2. I’ve become a fan of HEA endings these past few years. While I don’t mind beating my characters to pieces, I like to give everyone a satisfied-sigh ending. In contemporary romance, everyone gets their HEA. In my scifi romance, I like to leave a few things open. When I’m reading, I like the same things! So I write what I like to read, which is the advice I give to most people who want to write anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…Teaser Thursday: Her Bright Sweet LaughterMy Profile

    • I am perfectly fine with it if character have to go through a lot before they get their happy ending ;). And I am a big fan of HEA endings as they are just so happy and fun. I think the genre can also influence what makes a good ending, good point! I think HEA certainly work great for contemporary romance, while in sci-fi or fantasy I am more okay with less happy endings.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What Makes a Good Book Ending?My Profile

  3. I agree whole heartedly with Ms. Pajonas! I’m a YA writer as well and it’s always easier to worry what you you’d want to read. For me though, I don’t really care for happily ever afters–not relatable enough. I like the emotional “sigh” endings and maybe sometimes the bittersweet ones–although not too much.

    • I often grown to care about the characters and want to see them hapy, but them again I always like to believ in the best and be optimistic at least when it comes to other people. So I want characters in books to get their happy ending as I feel like they deserve it. I guess they are less realistic or relatable, but I just like knowing the characters are happy when I finish a book.
      Although those bitter sweet endings sure can pull at your emotions. I have read a few great bitter sweet endings as well, but don’t encounter those too often in books. I love the emotional endings, but I still want them be happy as well. If that makes sense?

  4. I can’t do sad endings to be honest…they really depress me. The reason I read romance is to get AWAY from real life. LOL So I love the happy ends and “riding into the sunset together”. One of my favorite types of endings is the ones that end with a good emotional note to it that gives you that feeling of doing a happy dance.
    Renee (@Addictofromance) recently posted…Book Review- Wolf TroubleMy Profile

    • Same here, sad ending make me sad and I dislike that. I am okay with books pulling at my emotions a bit, but I don’t want to go too far to the sad/ despressing end. And indeed real life already has so many sad and difficult things, maybe that’s also a reason why I like those happy endings. And if they end with an emotional note and then a happy ending it’s even better!

  5. I LOVED Killer Frost! It was so perfect and I just really loved that series ๐Ÿ™‚ Jennifer Estep is the BEST!

    Anyway, not too long ago I read a book that had none of these things and, oh my gods, was it frustrating! The book is called Dollhouse and it sounded very interesting and it was up until the ending where it felt like we were missing half of the book… ugh! There’s cliffhangers (say, in Rick Riordan’s Mark of Athena, perhaps) and then there’s this! There was absolutely no resolution, nothing was tied up nicely with a bow… I think you were just expected to continue on with the series to find out what happens next. And although I am kind of curious, my frustration over that ending won out and I absolutely will not be continuing that series, unfortunately =/
    Liliana @ Lili Lost in a Book recently posted…Review: Spiderโ€™s Revenge (Elemental Assassin #5) by Jennifer EstepMy Profile

    • Same here, it was a great book and an amazing endign to the series, it wa sjust perfect how thigns got wrapped up and the big battle at the end.
      Even books that are earlier in the series I like the to be wrapped up a bit or at least tie up some plot points. I don’t mind cliffhangers too much, but if you feel like half of the book is missing that’s frustrating. I had a novella like that once, it felt like the author chopped it in parts and it was even called part 1 and 2, but I still hoped for more from the first book and not just be expected to pick up the second part if you wnated to understand anything.

  6. I feel like the ending for me depends on the flow of the book. I am ok with a cliffhanger as long as the main part of the book tells a complete story that has a continue into a next book. I do enjoy a happy ending but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a sad ending. I just want a complete type of end if it’s going to end and if it’s a series it MUST answer all the questions throughout the entire series.
    Michelle@Because Reading recently posted…Oops I forgot ~ Task It Tuesday!My Profile

    • I can’t really think of many books with sad endings, but I do agree that it really matters how the flow of the book is and how the book is written. I was mostly focussing on last book in a series endings and meant in that case I want most answers. Earlier books in a series can leave things open, that’s okay.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What Makes a Good Book Ending?My Profile

  7. Great discussion.
    Definitely agree with your list at the top, but I will say that I personally hate open endings. I feel like it’s the job of the author to tell and finish the story, and I get mad when I have to interpret the ending of a certain storyline.
    I don’t really care about happy or sad, as long as the ending is emotional, realistic, and ties up all the loose ends.
    Daniel @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Review 242: Waiting by Ha JinMy Profile

    • It depends a bit for me how open the ending is and maybe also the genre. That contemporary romance i read had a pretty open ending, but was still hopefull and did finish the story, but also left their future to the imagination. In most cases though I like being able to imagine what happens next thanks to what the author did write instead of leaving it open, but I don’t dislike open endigns as much as I did. I also like emotional and realistic ending, although happy endings still have my preference over sad ones.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Spring Rolls RecipeMy Profile

  8. I would agree with you on your break down of what needs to be in an ending to satisfy you, but I think I would need more than one of those. Definitely I need to feel that the main plot is given closure, but also that I have a good grasp of the situation for the future.

    As to type of ending, I have actually read and enjoyed books that are sad and open ended though only a few and I definitely prefer my happy endings.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Paradise by Pamela Srey #Review #DNFMy Profile

    • I like epilogues for that reason, you get a good graps of the future and how their life will be. Especially for romance books that’s my prefered ending, although it’s also nice to see other type of endings sometimes. I just lvoe those happy endings that wrap the book up with a happy note and gives you an epilogue that shows more happines.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Spring Rolls RecipeMy Profile

  9. Amazing points, Lola! I like happy endings too, but there are times when an unhappy ending really works for me. It was when I was reading a very very emotional book and everything had built up to something so heavy. The ending wasn’t happy at all, and it left me with such a great book hangover. But I thought it was really good because it felt so real, and the writer was very good with conveying emotion. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted…Review 178: Prodigy (Marie Lu)My Profile

    • I can’t really think of unhappy endings at the moment, so maybe it’s just a case of me not having encountered them enough. I think it does fit some books, although in general I think I still prefer happy endings. It sure sounds like that author you mentioned did a great job of conveying emotions and the sad ending worked there.

  10. This is so, so hard for me! Mostly because I think it really depends on the book most of the time. Though I am REALLY bad at dealing with an open ending. Slightly open, okay. WIDE open? Nope. I need to know a few things! I totally agree about the book ending with a bang and evoking emotions. Honestly, if a book doesn’t do that, it is probably NOT ending well for me! Great topic, I have to really think about this for myself now too!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…Review: All We Have is Now by Lisa SchroederMy Profile

    • This is more general trends and opinions. I agree it really depends on the book and how the ending is excatly written and categorizing things as a happy or open ending is still very vague. Like I mentioend that book I read with an open ending worked, but there were still a few things wrapped up, enough for me to have peace with it. I don’t like when it’s an abrupt ending and nothing get’s resolved. That is too open for me. And emotional endings with a bang are the best type of endings!
      Lola recently posted…Review: Freya’s Inferno by Sonja BairMy Profile

    • In this case I was mostly talking about standalones or end of the series endings, but I agree I don’t like being forced to read part 2 or the second book just because things are too open.
      Lola recently posted…Sunday Post #136My Profile

  11. I think what I need the most to feel satisfied with how a book ends is that the overall plot and storyline has to be finished. I should know that what started has come to an end, even if the book is part of a series, and there are some plots and storylines that will span over several books. The main plot has to have a resolution to it.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Review: Wicked Fall โ€“ Sawyer BennettMy Profile

  12. I generally prefer endings that leave the characters alive, happy, and looking to the future. But sometimes they don’t really fit with a certain story, and that’s okay.

    I’d have to say that open endings that leave heaps of the plot (or ALL of it) completely unresolved. I almost feel like I’ve wasted my time reading the book because what did I really get from it? I don’t know what happened to the character after the last word, and I will always want that.

    Sad endings aren’t very high on my end, because I really don’t read a book to be sad. I read them to escape and be happy, so happiness is what I generally want from them!

    But ultimately, I think a lot of it depends on the book itself, and what feels right!
    Chiara recently posted…the importance of continuityMy Profile

    • I usually prefer for at leats the main characters to stay alive. I know having some characters die is realistic, but I don’t like it much, although it depends a bit on the book, because havign everyone survive a dangerous situation can be a bit unrealistic.

      I do want some resolution or ending, even with the open endings, something must have changed or developed since the beginning, there must be a reason and goal for reading the book.

      Same here, I don’t like sad endings as I prefer to read happy books. There’s enough sadnes sin the world already.

      I like your conclusion as I think that’s what most important, that it fits the book and feels like a right ending.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: How Many Books Do You Read at Once?My Profile

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