BTT: Twisted

btt21. Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings? 2. What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? Or your least favorite?

In general, I enjoy complicated plots all by themselves, surprise endings or no, as long as they feel organic to the story. I also enjoy surprise endings, but again only when they feel organic to the story. The trick is that the characters in the book must be as shocked by what’s happening as the reader is–when that happens in the hands of a skillful writer, it’s magic. At the moment, I can’t think of a least favorite book with both features, but I’ve read three books I loved in the last few years that fit the bill: Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters; Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane; and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl. I’ve also started Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Trilogy, and that seems to be a part of this group as well. And now that I think about it, another book I just read, The Dart League King,  had a rather surprise ending, more of a quiet shock than a gut-punch, but it left me a little stunned, nonetheless.

Update: I did think of a book I enjoyed that had a twist at the end that upset me: Bel Canto. I suppose I should have seen it coming, given the circumstances, but I didn’t like the ending. Not at all.

This is yet another topic where I hope to find some great recommendations. Happy Thursday!

Note: I welcome all BTT participants and your comments, if you have something interesting to offer in response to this post. Please do not leave a generic comment simply so you can post your own link. All participant links can be found at the Booking Through Thursday site. Thanks!

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11 comments

  1. I haven’t read any of the titles you mentioned, but I also enjoy books with complex plots and great surprises at the end. For me, two of the books whose endings I felt actually elevated the books and in some ways made the books, were Life of Pi by Yan Martel and Atonement by Ian McEwan. I suppose one might argue that Atonement also had a complicated plot, but for me my favorite part was the end.

  2. Steph, I haven’t read Atonement, but I saw the movie and you’re right–the ending is the best part. It made the whole movie for me. I still intend to read the book. And you are right about Life of Pi–I always forget about that book!

    Jennifer, it seemed like every blogger was talking about Fingersmith last year when I started my blog. I was so happy I picked it up. Also the Ness trilogy books seem to be big now…The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first one. That title might be more familiar. 🙂

  3. I keep hearing about The Knife of Never Letting Go and I keep resisting. I probably need to just go ahead and pick it up, especially since it showed up in this topic!

  4. I enjoy complicated plots and multiple layers of meanings, but they are not necessary for me to like a book. It all depends whether I resonate with the story.

    Glad I’m not the only one who is upset about the ending of Bel Canto.

  5. The Fingersmith is one of my favourite books, so it is good to see it on your list.

    I hadn’t heard of Shutter Island until last week, but now know the film is coming out in the UK next month, so will try to read it before it comes out on DVD. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. I loved ATONEMENT- I think it’s McEwan’s best. And I didn’t know CALAMITY PHYSICS had a twist- that’s one of those books that’s been haunting me on bargain tables and used bookstores for what seems like years. Now I want it! 🙂

  7. Sherry, I loved Bel Canto as well. I am hoping to re-read it this year.

    Jennifer, I am posting my thoughts on The Knife of Never Letting Go later this week, so maybe that will add even more encouragement!

    Matt, I agree that good books don’t necessarily have to have complex plots. One of my favorite books, Kent Haruf’s Plainsong, is a simple book, but such a wonderful story. Complexity must be organic to the story. And Bel Canto: I think a lot of people were bewildered by that ending!

    Pussreboots, I am very enthusiastic about Special Topics. It’s one of those books people either love or hate, it seems.

    Jackie, I have recommended Fingersmith to almost everyone I know. Shutter Island has a similar feel, even though it’s set at a different time and is quite a different kind of story. It just sucks you in and carries you away…I hope you enjoy it.

    Marie, I must read Atonement, even though I know how it ends. I was floored by the ending in the movie, and I would love to pick it apart in the book. Special Topics has a very big twist indeed. 🙂

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