Today's Booking through Thursday is a fun, thought-provoking, two-part question from Jackie, which asks:
- Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?
- What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? OR your least favorite?
My impulse was to say that I LOVE books with complicated plots and unexpected endings, but on further reflection I decided that it really isn't such a cut-and-dried question. I do not necessarily think that these traits are joined together at the hip. I think you can have an unexpected ending in a book that is not terribly complicated, and I think you can read a complex book without experiencing the twist ending. On the whole, however, I do think they are closely related, and I am a fan of both.
Having said that, I do not enjoy reading books that are so complex that I need to keep paper and pencil nearby to create charts and graphs in order to aid my understanding. This is not an enjoyable reading experience for me. I do enjoy books that make me think. I especially like those which have two or more subplots that appear unrelated, but somehow connect in the end. It makes me realize what a small, intimate world we really live in.
Unexpected endings are wonderful, as long as they ring true with the rest of the book. Again, this is reminiscent of life - as we constantly experience twists and turns of fate that result in a conclusion which we do not originally anticipate.
I think my "favorite" book written in this style would have to be the first book I read where I was introduced to the "twist" ending: Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. I only read this book five years ago, and I had no idea that she was known for the unexpected. She grabbed my attention with the first paragraph, and I never lost interest until the last page was read. I think I read the book in a 24 hour time period. I remember reading the last chapter and was so shocked, that I just sat on the couch dazed and confused --- at first saying to myself, "no way" and then realizing that there were indeed clues all along. Now that I have read a few more of Picoult's books, My Sister's Keeper and Nineteen Minutes, I would like to re-read this book from a writer's point of view and see how she manages to twist the ending, yet keep true to the "expected" outcome that the reader anticipates.
So how about you? Do you like to read books that have a nice tidy ending - or do you prefer to be surprised at how it turns out?