January 28, 2010


This week's Booking Through Thursday question comes in two parts:

1. Do you like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?

Who doesn't? If you like only straightforward narratives and pat endings then you're not so much of a reader as a plot consumer. I love Dan Simmons and Neal Stephenson and Susanna Clarke and a whole raft of challenging and rewarding novelists. Now there are credible surprise endings an there are, um, less credible ones. When a book seems to be built around only a surprise ending, it usually fails to work for me. That's fun in short stories, but novels? Not so much. Never really did get over that stupid icicle thing in The Lovely Bones.

2. What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? Or least favorite?

Favorite surprise ending: Penguin by Polly Dunbar

Most recent least favorite trick ending was from a generally good book: Shutter Island (which I doubt will be improved by the addition of Leo D. in the flick).


Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

I've been wanting to read The Lovely Bones. Would you recommend it?

Here is mine

MarceJ said...

Shutter Island has been a few answers, for both good and bad. I may read this one.

Jennifer said...

The Lovely Bones I have read, the other two I am sad to say I have not. I like books that make me think and keep me on my toes. My Answer: http://www.rundpinne.com/2010/01/booking-through-thursday-complicated.html

Jim said...


It was ok, but not as good as the hype (and apparently the movie is worse).

Thanks all!

Kathy said...

But I hear that the movie Shutter Island is pretty good (a few friends worked on the movie, shot in and around Boston). I just finished the newbery winner, When You Reach Me, not a "surprise" ending, but one that I wasn't expecting - if that makes sense... it was a GREAT book!

Jim said...


Hope you're right about the movie. I heard Scorsese is making The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Interesting,,,

MissAttitude said...

I too like books with complicated plots especially ones that skillfully weave multiple storylines together (nothing is coming to mind although I've read good reviews of One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee). I think every book tries to have a twist or two, it just doesn't always work, thus it becomes straightforward.

One of my favorite complicated plot books is Liar by Justine Larbaelstier, I love/hate how maniuplated and unsure I felt at the end.

Shutter Island looks creepy, disappointed to hear that it's not great, I probably won't read the book but may end up seeing the movie with friends.

Nancy said...

I like books that take me on an unexpected journey, and I like stories with emotional depth. And I never mind a non-linear plot. I already mentioned Yiddish Policeman's Union and Oscar Wao on my blog. But "complicated" isn't a very positive word for me. Maybe because I think of Dan Brown. I don't usually want to be taxed with figuring out a puzzle unless I'm playing sudoku. "Atonement" was a good example of a surprise ending that made an otherwise forgettable book something outstanding in my memory. I love Dan Simmons, enjoyed the one Neal Stephenson book I read, and I'm not familiar with Susana Clarke or the other books you mentioned, but am about to click on the links.

Jim said...

Miss Attitude,

Yeah, I'll probably see the movie too. It IS a Scorsese after all. Thanks, I'll look for those other titles.


Don't get me started on Dan Brown! I saw the movie of Atonement. Maybe the ending was better in the book...