I'm not catching flies, I'm reading a book! (Top Ten Tuesday)

I'm a compulsive book finisher.  I know, I know.  Life's too short to read bad books.  Why read something that you don't enjoy?  I can rationalize it from here to Main street, but when it comes down to sticking to a so-so book I usually do because of a nagging voice in my head that wonders if, by giving up on a book, I will miss the very best part!  What happens if the ending - the last ten, twenty, or fifty pages - holds the redeeming value of a less than stellar book?  How can I fairly rate a book I want to abandon if by chance the author's brilliance lies at the denouement?  I've tried to be persuaded out of my stubborn ways, but today's Top Ten Tuesday list features books that convince me that maybe a great ending can make a so-so book good because these are ten eleven great books whose endings made them awesome!

Top Ten Books with Jaw-Dropping Endings
In more or less random order - Underlined titles link to my reviews

(Bonus)11. Delirium by Lauren Oliver  
I'm going to start with this choice because I have a feeling it's going to be a popular one today.  The ending took this book from a decent young adult dystopia to a gripping and powerful novel.  Though I've stated before that I would love for the ending to stand and for this to remain as a solo novel, I admit that I'm captivated enough to want to devour Oliver's sequel Pandemonium.

10. The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
Fforde's wit is by far what sets him apart from most authors, but in this book he constructs a really great mystery that's also extremely funny.  The plot follows Detective Jack Spratt investigating the death of Humpty Dumpty (did he really "fall"?) and the ending is as unpredictable as it is hilarious and enjoyable. 

9. 1984 by George Orwell
It's tricky to do a top ten list about endings without revealing any of them.  Orwell's entire work is intelligent and thought-provoking but I'm sure many that have read this one concur that the ending has spawned Philosophy class curriculum for the ages.

8. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
This one is the first SAA book I read and it remains my favorite (though I will tip my hat in respect to those that argue Garden Spells to be superior).  The brilliance behind the ending of this book is that all the pieces are in place throughout the work for it to be entirely predictable and yet it still manages to be a beautiful surprise. 

7. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
From the setup of a fry cook who's friends with the ghost of Elvis there was plenty unique and bizarre about the first in Koontz's Odd series.  In talking with others who have read this book, I've found the ending to be quite polarizing - but I'm a reader that falls in the "loved it" side of things. 

6. The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
This book is the seventh in Preston and Child's Pendergast series and the conclusion of what they refer to as The Diogenes Trilogy.  What I loved is that this book ended with a kicker that I definitely did not see coming.  What I hated was that it offered a massive plot opportunity that was pretty much abandoned in subsequent books in the series.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The ending of this book is not quite a surprise since the narrator hints at it and then reveals it long before it happens.  What I love though is that it still manages to be awe-inducing when you read it.  There's a part of me that wanted not to trust the narrator and to cling to a hope that things would turn out a different way and the fact that even with the reveal the ending managed to be remarkably powerful makes it a definite choice for this list.

4. Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
With the exception of the first and sixth choices on my list, I'm trying to avoid series books  because cliffhangers at the end of book one or two of a series hardly shock me anymore.  However, what I love about the ending of Ptolemy's Gate - book three in Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy - is that he delivers a punch with a key character that wraps up the series perfectly.  There are times when I protest an author's handling of a series because it's not what I would have done, but this is a great example of an author delivering an ending that is a million times better than anything I could have conceived. 

3. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
The world needs more excellent stand alone fantasy novels and the world needs more writers like Sanderson.  This book was well-written, unique, and creative and the ending - which tied together multiple plot lines, characters, and climactic moments in one fell swoop - was absolutely brilliant.

2. Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
Many people know Harris as a writer from the book (and subsequent Johnny Depp movie) Chocolat and though I love her artistic and descriptive love stories, Gentleman and Players is one of the best mystery works I've read recently.  I really don't want to say too much about this book but if you consider yourself an armchair detective who loves a good mystery - go read this book!

1. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
This has to be my number one choice despite my reluctance to include "Book One"s here.  Even apart from the "what's next?" questions when any series begins I had to choose this book for it's emotionally charged finale.  Considering that upon rereading the book I was wondering if on the second time around certain characters would make different choices, I can't think of a better cap for this list!

So there you have my list of the week.  Which choices do you agree with?  Which do you dislike?  Have I given you any new titles to check out and/or avoid?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

For those that don't know or are new to the feature, Top Ten Tuesday is a blog meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  Check out their blog to link up with your own Top Ten Tuesday post and to find the schedule for future TTT lists as well.  (And for those who want a flashback to the Top Tens I've participated in you can see them all here.)

11 Response to "I'm not catching flies, I'm reading a book! (Top Ten Tuesday)"

  1. Hannah Lorraine says:
    October 4, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    I definitely have to finish books too. I've never really been able to explain it to other people - it's kind of a compulsion. Plus, who knows when an ending is going to totally turn the rest of the book into something awesome. I always hope.
    That said - 1984 was on my list too - it was my first dystopian novel and probably the first time an ending wasn't as happy as I needed it to be. It left me shocked.
    Great list.

  2. Sam (Tiny Library) says:
    October 4, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    Sadly I've not read many of these, apart from 1984. I do want to read Game of Thrones, but they are all so long! Is it worth it?

  3. Trish says:
    October 4, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    What I loved about the ending of Book Thief was that it was as good as it could have been under the circumstances, especially the part with Liesel and the mayor's wife - oh man - *weep*

  4. biblioholic29 says:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    I used to force my way through books, but I've stopped doing that recently. However, I can think of one book that I'm very glad I stuck with, Orson Scott Card's "The Lost Boys". Hardly one of his best known works, it's got an ending more shocking than "Ender's Game".

  5. lisa :) says:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Hannah - I think 1984 was the first book that came to my mind when I heard this topic!

    Sam - Game of Thrones (and the whole Song of Ice and Fire series) is definitely about the journey not the destination. There's a lot of unresolved stuff (even five books later) but the writing, the characters and a truly epic plot make it worthwhile in my opinion.

    Trish - I cried SOOO much at that book but I still adore it!

    bib - I haven't read any Orson Scott Card, though Ender's Game has been on my TBR shelf for-ev-er!

  6. Annie @ButteryBooks says:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    I loved Joanne Harris' Chocolat. Gentlemen and Players sounds intriguing!

    My Top Ten Tuesday:
    http://butterybooks.com/?p=42365

  7. Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) says:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    The Sugar Queen ending caught me totally by surprise, even though it probably shouldn't have as it was the only way to make it make sense!

  8. Shanella says:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    You know, I have Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud, but I haven't been able to get to it for some reason... I'll have to pick it up again.

  9. lisa :) says:
    October 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Annie - Do check it out! Harris really proves herself as more than just a "chick lit" writer.

    Ellen - I think that's why I loved it! Looking back it was definitely a "well, duh!" but for whatever reason I didn't predict it at all.

    Shanella - I read the trilogy straight through and I think that added to me liking it a lot. Normally I don't binge read series like that, but I'm glad I did so with those.

  10. Red says:
    October 5, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    I didn't even think of The Big Over Easy as a shocking ending, but you're so right! It was something I didn't see happening that made total sense. The Fourth Bear is similar that way. Nice list!

  11. kimba88 says:
    October 5, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Love your 10 jaw dropping endings. I have read most of these. I found your blog on Book Blog and I am now following you. Stop by my blog for a cup of coffee and check out my book reviews :
    http://kimbathecaffeinatedbookreviewer.blogspot.com/

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