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Happily Ever After

We're all familiar with the fairy tales that end with those "Happily Ever After"s - at least, the Disney versions do. Most books follow this basic format of a conflict being introduced and ending with the plot threads tied neatly together with an improvement in the protagonist's situation.

Sometimes, though, authors break the mold and write am ambiguous or even sad ending - and I don't mean a cliffhanger preceding a sequel or something like that. I've recently read a lot of reviews condemning or praising books for not having a happy ending, so I've been thinking a lot about this as of late.

I think non-happy endings can work very well when used correctly and are often extremely powerful, usually as long as there's some plot resolution one way or another. However, it has to be with the right book. In my opinion, most books work best when they follow the general formula with a happy-ever-after.

So what do you think? Do you love ambiguous/sad endings, or do you prefer all your reads to end happily?


Melody said...

I have yet to find a book with a sad/ambiguous ending that I like. I don't know why. I just can't be satisfied unless something happy happens...and I don't mean some random happy thing, completely irrelevant to the story that is thrown in there just to placate you. :)

The irony is, I'm very happy with ambiguous/sad endings in movies. 3:10 TO YUMA (the new one) is one of my favorites, and as far as endings go, it's horrorific! And THE DARK KNIGHT; can't explain my attraction to that ending, either. Even LOTR, the movie, has a certain melancholy about it's ending, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Steph said...

I'm learning to embrace the non-happy ending after reading one too many books where everything was wrapped up way too neatly at the end and it felt forced or rushed, or completely unrealistic. That being said, I think it depends on the book and the reader. I've had people say that they LOVE the happy ending to my book and how realistic it is, and other slam it for not being happy ENOUGH. So sometimes, you just can't win! :)

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