Should We Judge a Book by its Ending? Would You Cheat to Know?

This discussion post is submitted to Let’s Chat hosted at Oh, Chrys! and The Fiction Conniption.

This topic first popped out on my mind when I was talking to my friend a few weeks ago. Well, I just finished Shadow and Bone and it was a really great book so I recommended it to her because I know she also likes fantasy books. I even offered to lend it to her. But unfortunately she turned it down because she wanted to know the ending first. She said that she would read it if the ending was good.

It wasn’t the first time she acted like that. Before I even started TID she also spoiled me the ending of Clockwork Princess which she knew from her other friend. She said the series conclusion was terrible and that she didn’t want to continue the series anymore. But hearing so many recs from my bloggy friends and since I am always curious, I decided to read the whole series and after I was done with Clockwork Princess, I encouraged my friend to continue the series again. Which she also turned down, btw, cause she thought the ending was horrible and unacceptable. BUT she also insisted for me to tell her what happened in the book and the ending.

I am here NOT to criticize her reading habits but I am sure I am not the only one who disagrees with this. I hate spoilers as I think it can ruin readers’ experience. Hell yes, I don’t spoil the twists or the endings in my reviews. I completely understand that people have different habits and preferences, but I was left pondering. Is ending really THAT important that you will sacrifice your reading experience for the sake of knowing the ending first??

Yes, I totally get that an ending should be good. We all like good endings. But say, you are reading a book now and you are REALLY enjoying it. It has amazing characters, beautiful writing, swoon-worthy romance that you are SOOO SURE that you will give it 5 stars. However, your dreams and hopes are crushed when the ending turns out to be… unlike you’ve expected – in a bad way. Will the ending affect your overall rating? Will you give a book a bad rating just because you hate the ending? Will you still give it 4 or 5 stars? I personally would still give that book 4 stars cause I think judging a book solely by the ending is wrong and there are other positive qualities – enough to redeem the bad ending. Unless there are no other positive things, well that’s another story.

So you read a bad ending. You’re kinda “traumatized” with being disappointed. You don’t wanna read books with bad endings anymore. But how do you know whether a book has a good or bad ending? Of course, read the ending first before starting a book. Don’t like the ending?? Pfft why would I bother reading this?? A complete waste of time! Love the ending?? Heck yes I’m sure I will love this one!

That is just an example xD No offense to people who really do it.

People’s opinions, habits and preferences are different. But I am definitely not the kind of person who peeks at the last page before starting a book but perhaps my friend isn’t alone.

Are you like my friend too, maybe — prefer to read books with good ending? Would you “cheat” just to know the ending first? Would a bad ending ruin the whole book for you?

33 thoughts on “Should We Judge a Book by its Ending? Would You Cheat to Know?”

  1. I really don’t understand people who read the ending first! It completely ruins the experience of reading the book, because you’re often not going to understand the ending without having read the middle bits. So definitely no cheating for me.

    Of course I do prefer reading books with a good ending. Who wouldn’t? Obviously a good ending is better than a bad one. But I do also think that a crappy ending shouldn’t completely ruin the experience of the book (unless it’s just so ridiculously crappy that it brings down your opinion of the whole book- which has happened before- although very very rarely). What I rate the book would probably depend on how crappy the ending is. If it’s an okay ending, maybe 4. If it’s absolutely terrible 3 or 2. I suppose in a way the ending does somewhat define your experience of the book, because it’s the thing that sticks in your mind after you’ve finished 🙂

    1. I don’t understand either! :/ I am so scared when it comes to spoilers :/ I prefer to read the book without knowing anything at first.

      I am the same as you when it comes to rating a book with bad ending. Usually I will still give the book a chance if I dislike the ending…but if I HATE it…then it could either be 2 or 3…

      I agree, I tend to remember more about the ending than the beginning. 🙂

  2. I thought this blogpost would be going a completely different direction, but I still liked it 🙂

    As for me: if people tell me the ending is bad, especially if I’m already reading the book, I’ll just be too curious to know if I agree to stop reading the book.

    But I will (at times) like a book less if the ending was bad. For me it’s just an integral part of the whole so I can’t just detach it from the book. And when I say bad ending I don’t mean that it’s not how I wanted the story to end, but more in the sense that I didn’t feel as if it worked well with the rest of the book or if it went against what the rest of the book had been going for.

    1. Yes, I usually feel the same way too! The one that keep me going when I am reading a book I don’t enjoy is the ending! I just wanna know how things will wrap up and deep down in my heart, I still hope that the ending will be better than the rest of the book.

  3. I don’t like spoilers and would never ever read the ending first, but at the same time I don’t like bad endings either. But when I say “bad” I don’t mean
    unhappy endings, but you know bad endings (which usually only appears in bad books) I’m not a huge fan of those unhappy endings (really I think we all like HEA best), but sometimes they are necessary, so I wouldn’t give a book a lower rating just because the ending wasn’t fairy tale perfect 🙂

  4. I don’t know why you would want to know an ending of a book before you decide to read it! It just doesn’t make sense to me. I admit, I skip through books but that’s only because it’s really exciting and I can’t bear reading through all the tiny details to get to the BIG THING.

    And to answer your question, of course the ending will play into my overall rating of the book! But since I go by a five-word rating, the ending often isn’t bad enough to really make a big difference in my rating. There are SO many other things that make a book good and while the ending might have disappointed me, it isn’t the only thing I look for in a book. Trust me, there are so many other things that bug me more than an iffy ending.

    1. HIGHFIVE! Sometimes I wish I could read in the speed of lightning so I could get the book done! ><

      Exactly! Reading experience is more important IMO and rating the book as a WHOLE, not just the ending! I think I can guess which would annoy you in a book! xD

  5. While I am one of the guilty few who will occasionally read the last sentence first (I know, I know), I don’t let it define the whole book. If I am LOVING a book and then a horrible ending comes along I will still probably give it a higher rating. I will most certainly talk about how I disliked the ending in my review, but I don’t think that I will let it define the WHOLE book.
    This discussion really made me think! Great discussion.

    1. YOU DO??! ><

      Anyways, I totally agree with what you said! Even though the ending is usually the thing that would stick to your mind the most — well, at least that’s me! — rating the book based on the WHOLE book is much fairer I think.

  6. I went through a period when I would read the end first, but that didn’t last long. I usually try to avoid spoilers now, but I know a lot of people don’t care if they read them or even actively seek them out. They say it doesn’t ruin their reading experience the way it would mine or yours.

    It’s harder to flip to the end of a Kindle books and then find your place again, so I don’t usually bother, unless I’m wavering on whether to keep reading or not or I just do not care about whatever’s going on but still want to know how it ends and what happens to the characters at the end.

    A bad ending DOES ruin the book for me, though, unless I know there’s another book coming that can resolve the issue. Just like a good first impression is important, so is a good last impression. The ending is what I’m going to remember most. I wouldn’t be very happy with a person who was friendly and nice and then slapped me and walked away. I wouldn’t say, oh well, she was fine up until that point so I’ll still meet her for coffee next week.

    It works the other way, too. I recently read a book that I was going to rate as 1 1/2 stars. It ended up with 2 stars because it got slightly better past a certain point.

    1. GREAT comparison! Both beginning and ending are important (not that the middle part is useless but I’m pretty sure some of us can’t remember what things happen there, so beginning (to catch readers’ attention) and ending (to leave the last impression) should me good, at least memorable enough.

  7. Nahh I don’t judge a book by its ending. I criticize a book as a whole (from beginning, to middle, till the end). Hmm I’ve never met or know anyone who reads the ending first THEN reads the book… I think since she’s spoiling herself, then she won’t feel like reading the whole book because she already knows the conclusion. How could you judge the ending without reading the whole story first? It’s like the saying “don’t judge me till you know the whole story”.


    1. Haha that’s sooo true! 😛 I think my friend is the only one I know but somehow I’m pretty sure that’s she’s not the only one in the world who does that.

      Yeah, and I don’t think it’s fair either to judge by the ending — that’s also an excellent comparison! People often define us as who we are right now — and that’s not completely wrong — but sometimes they just get the wrong impression from us. They misunderstand us cause they don’t know what we’ve been through.

  8. Well OF COURSE I prefer books with a good ending! But spoiling the ending to make sure of that? I wouldn’t even dare. If the ending isn’t good, then I’ll just have to state that in the review. I can’t be picky about reading books, and only read ones with endings that I like. Maybe the fact that she isn’t a book blogger (wait, is she?) allows her to be alright with spoiling the endings, but because I try so hard not to discriminate books, I will never think of reading the ending first. Sometimes it’s unavoidable if a series concludes horribly, so I make it a point to gather recommendations from other friends before starting a series. That way, I at least know what to expect, without specifically knowing WHAT to expect (if that makes sense!)

    1. Well, she isn’t…That’s why she’s so…picky as in she doesn’t want to read other genre other than fantasy, specifically paranormal. But then again, I realized that I have been so careful with spoilers since I started book blogging. I don’t spoil them to my friends and I usually get soooo paranoid with my friends whenever they’re talking about books.

  9. I hate spoilers and I avoid knowing an ending if I want to read a book. In fact, if I already know the ending of a book, chances are I won’t read it at all since I think it ruins a great deal of fun while reading.

    And personally I don’t judge a book by an ending. I may not like or agree with an ending, but if the rest of the book was great, I’d probably still give it a favourable review.

    1. I hate spoiler too but unlike you, I still started TID even though my friend had spoiled my the ending of CP2. Before reading the series I thought how horrible the conclusion was but apparently, once I have read all the books including CP2, I thought it was the best ending that could ever happen, considering the situation. I wasn’t surprised but I could still feel all kinds of emotion. I guess that what makes us different haha xD

  10. I absolutely hate spoilers!!! I think the ending is the deciding point of the book. My rating is usually based off the feeling I get at the end of a book. The rating isn’t judged completely off the ending but it does play a huge part. Great discussion idea!

    1. Thanks, Francoise! 😀 I usually rate according to my feelings too. I am not a total calculator but sometimes I feel like I also have to point out other factors that I think some people would/wouldn’t like.

  11. I can definitely understand where your friend is coming from. She might be the type of person who doesn’t want to go the hassle of reading the whole story only to end up with a crap ending. Sometimes, I feel this way too.

    Take for example Requiem. Had I known that the ending would be that bad, I would have never bought the whole series. Sure I love the concept, Lauren’s prose and all that but after that ending, the whole series didn’t worth a to me anymore. Sometimes, the ending is so powerful that it can make or break a story for me.

    And then there’s GoT. The first time I heard about it, I was definitely frothing at the mouth to read it ASAP. But after words spread that George loves killing his characters (even MCs) in the end then that stopped me. I wouldn’t want to subject myself to a lot of trouble, getting invested so much with a story for nada.

    1. I was also very disappointed with Requiem *sigh* I thought the ending wasn’t THAT horrible, I kinda liked it actually but I was bored the whole freaking time. Lauren Oliver’s prose was really beautiful and sometimes I felt like it actually lulled me to sleep lol. Anyway, I had the same case with THG… I really enjoyed the first two books but meh…I hate Mockingjay too much I even felt different toward the whole series :/

  12. I wouldn’t find out the ending of a book first because I HATE spoilers and it ruins the overall reading experience for me. But there have been books that because of their endings I like them a LOT less. Mockingjay is an example of this- I still really like The Hunger Games, but because of that ending I like the series a little less.

    Sara at The Page Sage

    1. I so agree with you!! Mockingjay was HORRIBLE D: I thought Catching Fire was the best of the series until I read Mockingjay and I was like…meh…why did I start this series in the first place? D:

  13. I know a couple of people like your friend, and honestly, it just BOGGLES MY MIND. I can’t understand how anyone would want to read the ending first, before they’ve even read the book. I mean, the ending is part of what makes reading so enjoyable and magical, and also addicting – it’s fun not knowing how a story is about to end. But I’m ranting now, sorry! To get back onto topic: I admit to having rated books based on their ending. One good example is Requiem, the final book in the Delirium trilogy. I enjoyed the story overall, but the ending was WAY too open-ended for my liking that I HAD to deduct a star. So yes, I guess an ending does affect my overall opinion of a book, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll give it a bad rating. Unless, of course, the rest of the story was horrible.

    I don’t actually care what kind of ending a book has. It can be a happily-ever-after, or it could be bittersweet, or it could be a really sad ending – I’d still rate it based on the rest of the story, and what I think about it, because you’re right. I think it’s wrong, too, to judge a book solely on its ending, and it’s a SIN to skip to the back to read the ending, too!

    This was such a creative and unique post, Kezia! Loved it!

    1. Thank you, Mel! 😀 I don’t mind your ranting! That’s kinda the point of having a discussion post, right?

      ME TOO! I seriously can’t understand them and a few days ago my other friend was like reading me a passage from The 5th Wave — I haven’t read that far and I was like shouting no no NOOOOO and she asked why was I making such a big deal. Apparently she doesn’t mind knowing some parts of the plot first…

      Requiem ending is definitely…controversial. I didn’t expect it to end THAT way but I didn’t really hate or love it. But I can see why some people hate it. What makes the rating so low for me is how bored I felt for the rest of the story. However, I am pretty sure I will still read Lauren Oliver’s books, knowing how beautiful her prose it and like we think how wrong it is to judge a book solely by the ending, I also think it’s really unfair to judge an author based on one book.

  14. OMGOSH This is just like my sister. She reads the first page and the last page of the book then if it aint interesting she doesn’t read it. If its good, she does. I can’t understand why she does that though! I mean what if the ending seems boring but once you read all of it, the ending actually is amazing? I can understanding beginning because sometimes I judge the book of how the author gets my attention with the first sentence. Tough but it works because all my favorite books all have amazing beginning sentences.

    According to endings. It does change ratings because I always write my reviews of the impression it has left me with how it ended, started, and everything else. So if the ending somehow fails, the rating goes a little lower, but if the book I loved it so much but then the ending ruined it, I would think it out and then average it out, know what I mean?

    Anywho I hope you can change your friend’s mind to reading the ending first! ;D

    1. Haha, I feel like I am responsible to stop her, somehow xD

      Haha to be honest, I don’t really mind first sentences — I just can’t judge books by the first sentence. Because honestly, first sentences are…first sentences to me xD

  15. I don’t like to know the ending before I read (aside from the big question of if it is a cliffhanger or not), but the ending is super important to me. I actually hated the ending of Shadow and Bone so much that it went from a 5 star book to me to a 1 star. I haven’t actually reviewed it because I’m still seething over that ending six months later.

  16. I would never, ever, read the ending of a book first! I really think it spoils the whole plot completely. I would however, in some cases, lower my ratinng due to a bad ending. For me the ending does affect the reading experience as a whole. While I wouldn’t lower the rating drastically, a bad ending, or an ending I simply didn’t like or agree with, would lower my perception of the book as a whole. Great discussion topic!

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