Top Ten Endings Which Surprised Me

“There is no redemption in the sea.”

China Mieville

  1. The Waste Lands – Stephen King. The peak of King’s Dark Tower series, The Waste Lands ends on a simply sublime cliffhanger. The resolution to that cliffhanger, in Wizard and Glass, is also fantastic; but it’s the set-up and that fiendishly badass ending that sets my heart racing every time.
  2. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins. I suspect, if you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. It’s an ending that makes you want to lay hands on Mockingjay IMMEDIATELY.
  3. Night Film – Marisha Pessl. An amazingly twisty, tricksy novel, whose ending upends everything we think we know about its world. I just think it’s perfect.
  4. Uprooted – Naomi Novik. Another book that shifts even as you’re reading it; a book that reveals complex levels of truth reaching down from ancient fairytales. A glorious and wonderful ending.
  5. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell. I think this surprised me with the sheer cleverness of its ending: its glittering structure, its vague mysticism about reincarnation and the future of humanity, how it managed to sustain its hope even while showing us a future that was dead.
  6. The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell. I wasn’t enjoying this very much until I reached the last couple of chapters, when it suddenly took off. Its depiction of post-apocalypse is heart-wrenching and terrible.
  7. The Scar – China Mieville. Mieville is another author who likes to shift the ground beneath you. I think The Scar has probably grown on me since I read it in January: I just loved the levels to it, the complex waves of counter-narrative it set up.
  8. Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel. A lovely hopeful ending to this post-apocalypse, quite unlike Mitchell’s. Not overdone or sappy: simply hopeful.
  9. Titus Alone – Mervyn Peake. Peake’s ending to his Gormenghast trilogy is, I think, controversial: it’s not the ending we expect, and it’s not one I particularly like. But it is a true ending, which is the important thing.
  10. The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon. An enigmatic ending for an enigmatic book, leaving the central conflict of the book undecided. Which is, I guess, the point. Life is not so neat as to provide narrative closure.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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