There exists a pact between readers and authors. They, the authors, write the magic words that will take us on a journey. We, the readers, pay our money for a ticket on that journey.
We start this journey with expectations. There will be a plot, for one. There will be characters that we start to feel like we know (even the bad guys.) Most importantly, there will be an ending. Some sort of closure where the loose ends are all tied up, the characters meet the fate they were working towards or justice is served. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it does need to make sense.
So what happens when that pact is broken? When the reader has invested their money, time and energy in a book and the author left them with nothing but disappointment as a return? We, readers, feel betrayed and a little bit angry. OK, a lot angry.
Here are the ten books that have broken the pact. These are the books readers agree should win the academy award for “Book we wanted to throw the hardest against the wall.”
**Warning** Some spoilers ahead.
1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Intellectually, I get it. Tris is showing her selfless Abnegation roots as she also demonstrates the courage she found in Dauntless. It’s the ultimate way to show the two. Emotionally? Curse you, Veronica Roth!
2. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
Would you rather be cleverly obscure and artistic, or give your readers some closure? We know which one Wallace chose. (Hint, it was the wrong one.)
3. The Green Mile by Stephen King
Prepare to have your heart skillfully stolen from your chest as you root for John Coffey. Then prepare to have it electrocuted and tossed on the floor. No one ever said life was fair, but seriously Stephen King.
4. In The Woods by Tana French
It’s not cheating to give us some kind of hint about what happened with the original mystery the whole freaking book is based on. Just one.
5. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
Artsy, pretentious and finished off with an ending that’s hokey beyond what you can stretch yourself to believe=major feelings of betrayal.
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Although it’s a classic that should be read at least once, readers fume about the ending to this day. (**Spoiler alert!**) Spending the entire book showing us how perfect Laurie and Jo are for each other and then having them end up apart . . . why Louisa May Alcott? Why?
7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Readers had no problem with the hard, no-right-side subject material but objected strongly to the unrealistic cop-out in the ending. Sometimes happily ever after is the worst choice the author can make.
8. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Yeah, tomorrow is another day Scarlett O’Hara, but you done gone and burned every bridge to get to it.
9. Burned by Ellen Hopkins
(**Spoiler Alert**) Ending a hopeless situation with more hopelessness is not always a teaching moment. Don’t teach us that life doesn’t have happy endings, Ellen Hopkins. Give us one tiny ray of hope.
10. Freedom’s Choice by Anne McCaffrey
After all of Anne McCaffrey’s years of full-on feminism, fighting the good fight and putting strong women in her writing (and this was back in the 1960s when it was a rebellious thing to do!) to end the book with (**Spoiler Alert**) a forced pregnancy is just plain wrong. What were you thinking Mrs. McCaffrey?
What about you? Which book has left you wanting to open up the closest window and throw it out?