Caffeinated Confession -Open Ended Novels

January 24th, 2015 Kimberly Feature 52 Comments

24th Jan

Caffeinated Confessions
Welcome to Caffeinated Confessions!

I wanted a forum where we could talk about bookish subjects from swoon-worthy covers to the price of eBooks. I hope to share my thoughts on a different subject each month. So that we can all chat and share opinions. In the process I hope we get to know each other a little better. I made a pot of coffee and have some lovely Earl of Grey so grab a cup and let’s chat:

Open Ended Novels

Open Endings can be both wonderful and infuriating but most of the time I actually like them. I know some of you are rolling your eyes and yes there have been times when we are left wondering if somehow we are missing the final pages in our ARC or finished copy. Truth be told though, most of the time I kind of prefer them…

Forcing an ending and wrapping things into a neat little package can be tempting for the author trying to please and equally satisfying for the reader who needs all the answers. For me, I find the openness allows me to ponder the story further. It allows my imagination to create my own scenes and happily ever moments.

I get frustrated when events aren’t fully explained or threads aren’t closed particularity when dealing with thrillers and mysteries. When it comes to romances, dystopians and fantasy though the open ending works for me. In my opinion these novels capture a specific moment in our characters lives and like real life the ending is far from over. After reading all of the Hollows series by Kim Harrison, the epilogue she included was nice and gave us a brief glimpse into the future, but I would have been equally happy without it. Julie Kagawa did a nice job of giving us a half open ending in her Blood of Eden series. While we got answers she still left room for us to imagine our character’s futures. The same holds true for Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy. The open ending of Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series left a lot of folks confused and frustrated but I actually loved the ending. I still imagine what happened as they stormed the other cities and rebuilt their world.

“I still imagine what happened” And within that statement, lies the reason why open ending work so well for me. I still imagine and ponder the world and it’s characters. Ask me about a book with a wrapped up ending and I most likely haven’t thought of it since I closed the book.

So tell me, do you like Open Endings or do they infuriate you? Or do you fall somewhere in-between. Unless we are dealing with a case, or unanswered threads I kind of prefer them.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

52 Responses to “Caffeinated Confession -Open Ended Novels”

  1. kara-karina

    I enjoy open endings, but prefer them in contemporary romances and maybe dystopians, but other genres didn’t work as much for me (for example, HR)

  2. Liza Barrett

    I’m fine with either, normally. An open ended novel/series has to be done right for it to work for me. I still have to have just enough answers that I feel like the main plot has been concluded, but I totally love getting to go out and continue to THINK about it. That works well for me. But I can’t stand when I feel like there’s still some plot that hasn’t been sorted out — that bugs the crap out of me.

    Conversely, I REALLY hate it when the plot gets wrapped up but there are still 30+ pages intended to wrap up every single other detail. ESPECIALLY if there’s going to be a sequel — don’t wrap everything up if there’s going to be a sequel. Just … Just don’t.

    Great post!

  3. MIchelle

    ugh, what a good topic. I want to say that I am about 50/50. Sometimes I really like an open ended ending, but sometimes I am just left with a burning desire to find out what the heck happens. I guess it depends on how unexpected the ending was.

    Great post kimba πŸ™‚

  4. Stephanie Once Upon a Chapter

    It really depends. If all of my questions have been answered then I don’t mind open endings. I hate it when an author leaves to many unanswered questions. One or two and I’m okay but I hate feeling like there’s a whole section of the story that just got blanked out on.

    I enjoy stories with a final ending too. They do stay with me too. Particularly romances. A good ending to a romance will stay with me a long time! πŸ™‚

  5. Tyler H Jolley

    I like open ended endings when it’s done right. There has to be closure on many fronts so I’m not left completely destroyed. Lately, there has been a lot of books with open endings who have nailed the delivery. I love when that happens.

  6. Katherine

    Open ended endings drive me crazy. I like my endings nicely tied up to the point it borders on contrived. Like in movies my favorite endings are the kind where the movie ends and then they show you little paragraphs about what each of the characters is doing in the future. The only time I can handle an open ended book is if it’s in a series. Great topic!

  7. Christy

    I’m the same way. I really don’t mind them unless there are serious threads or questions that need to be answered.

  8. Lindsay

    I do not mind open ending books. Some of the books I read have that. You just want to find out what going to happen in the next book or another series to the one before. This is the case with Return to Sugarcreek by Shelley Sparpard Gray. I on like to wonder what their future holds.

  9. Lanie

    I love open endings, it always gives me the power to change what I want. I don’t like my endings to always fit nice and neatly into a box. I’ve read books where the ending was horrible i.e. Sookie Stackhouse, and really would have preferred not to get an ending at all. I would have been blissfully happy not knowing who she ended up with.

  10. Ramona

    I love open endings, Kimba. An open ending, in my opinion, is a show of respect from the author toward his/her readers. It says, “Look, I trust you’re intelligent enough to imagine what happened to him/her/them next.”

  11. blodeuedd

    I do NOT like open endings. Mostly they just leave me all what what whaat!?! But ok sometimes they are only half open and you can live with it you know

  12. Red Iza

    I prefer open endings : after all, happily ever after is unrealistic – who knows what the future holds ? And I like it when an author trusts me enough as a reader to let me decide or think about what may happen – all details are not served on a platter, I can imagine and imagination is good πŸ™‚

  13. Jennifer Bielman

    OMG, Open Endings are one of my biggest pet peeves in novels. Drives me bonkers. I don’t think I have ever read a book that ended open-ended that I liked.

  14. Berls

    Hmmm… I think it depends on HOW open. If I can’t tell a general direction things are likely to go, I think I’m more frustrated than anything. But if its such that I can play out a few scenarios in my head, all along a general direction then I’m happy. Resolution doesn’t bother me at all (unless I disagree LOL), I definitely like my neat bows (or messy ones actually). I love that Harrison let us know how things went – but the way she did it was great because she skipped ahead so far, I get to keep thinking about how they got to that point. What happened all those years in-between? Great post Kimba!

  15. R_Hunt

    I read a lot of mysteries and suspense, and in that particular genre I like the ending wrapped up if it is a stand-alone or the last one in the series..if it’s a continuing series I don’t mind cliffhangers at all. But I dislike info dump endings when the author spends an inordinate amount of pages over-explaining why everything went the way it did.

    In the genres of fantasy, romance, & dystopia, I could handle an open-ended conclusion much better than for mysteries. Thanks for an interesting topic!

  16. Adria

    Open Endings frustrate me to no end. I keep wondering and wondering and I just can’t let it go for days! My first experience with an open ending was actually a tv show, well two it was the spin off that also had an open ending and even now, almost ten years later I can’t get over them! It would have to be a darn good book for me to deal with an open ending.

  17. Sophia Rose

    Most of the time, no, I do not like them b/c they don’t seem so much like an open ending as a story just ending suddenly without explanation. A few times, I will admit that the open ending is the only one that makes sense for the story and yes, they stick with me, but I don’t endorse the habit for the average author. πŸ˜‰

  18. Linnae

    It depends on which genre. If it is a mystery, I want it resolved without any loose ends or cliffhangers. If it is a romance, it can be open ended if a sequel is coming within 3-6 months or if the last moments in the book are satisfying with hints about future events. I have to deal with too many open endings in R/L and in my leisure reading….I want the satisfying ending without nagging questions.

    Your comments about imagining what happens next reminds me of a series of books my son read when he was younger. They were called “Choose Your Own Adventure” and they inspired readers to use their imaginations to plot the story. He loved them.

  19. Karen

    It depends how open ended.

    I do like the romances tied up and the big picture concluded – especially if it’s a series that’ I’ve followed for years. But I’m also ok if some things are left to imagination as long as they aren’t the BIG things.

    I’ll take a HFN instead of a HEA but I do need some closure.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

  20. Carrie

    I think I’m torn on this a bit. Sometimes a few little questions aren’t so bad so that you’re left to kind of presume what you want and create your own happy ending but other times I want to know how the author intended for it to end. If it’s a series then no biggie because I know more is to come but for the most part I like things tied up. Though I do like to sort of ponder a bit further too. See… torn. LOL I guess it pretty much depends on the book or series.

  21. Mary

    I don’t like open-ended novels. I get that the author is leaving it up to the reader but I want everything tied up in a (relatively) neat bundle. I think that’s why I like romance — HEA, FTW!

  22. Lily B

    humm never read one with an open ending, so wouldn’t know how to feel, but I do know that last time someone told me a book had an open ending, I ended up putting it on a back burner >:|

  23. Lola

    While ofcourse it depends on the book and how the ending is written I think I prefer closed endings in general. I like it when things are wrapped up nicely, ofcourse not everything needs to get wrapped up and sometimes an open ending works was well. As long as there still is an ending or conclusion of some sorts and the book doesn’t just end. I still want an ending or resolution of some kind and at least the main plot lines need to be wrapped up. I usually don’t really have the urge to ponder about the story or character after the ending, but maybe that’s just me.
    One open ending I remember is from Kelley Armstrong ended her Darkness Rising series and I did like that, it was an ending of some sorts, but also a beginning and leaves room for a sequel if the author ever decides to write one. But it did wrap up the important plot lines of the series. Okay so maybe I am more open to open endings than I thought. I guess they can be done well.

  24. Terri M., the Director

    I do not mind open endings with books and movies. I find it more annoying when the author or director feels the need to wrap everything up in a pretty box and it doesn’t fit with the rest of the story.

    The best open ending I read in the last year? Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

  25. Inge

    I actually have a draft for this topic lined up, only I’m the exact opposite. I explain why I think open endings are the devil πŸ˜› I absolutely get the appeal and you’ve made some good points – it allows for the reader to use their imagination – but sometimes I just want a good, clean ending. I remember reading a Jodi Picoult book. You know the recipe: dubious law suit where you kind of root for both sides at the end. She ended one of her books without letting us know whether the accused got acquitted or not. So frustrating!

  26. Sarah

    It totally depends on the subject for me, though typically I do need the closure, especially at the end of a series. I really do like a well written epilogue at the end of a series. . . UNLESS the author plans to use the same cast of characters in a spin-off series. Other than that, I’m kinda anal for closure, though I do understand where you’re coming from.

  27. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I get so annoyed with open endings in thrillers! And – while I doubt most people would think the thriller I read most recently has an open ending, I did feel like there were questions I wanted better answers to. And this made me like the book a little less πŸ™

  28. Candace

    I tend to say I hate open endings, I want a full conclusion. But the points you made make sense. I did like how the Shatter Me books ended and thought it was perfect. In those cases it’s not really possible to fully end it because there’s always so much left. I don’t always like being left to ponder but often it does work well.

  29. Ro

    I think someone said it perfectly and for me applies with novels and movies as well. When something is really good, I do want it to be wrapped up at the end of the movie or book with a happily ever after. Then I realize that I enjoy the characters so much that I look forward to seeing them again. The down side is having to wait of course, and that’s the pits. (lol) Great topic and BIG Hugs…

  30. Felicia (asillygirl)

    It all depends on the book. If it deserves a closed ending, it definitely should have one, so I don’t just get frustrated. But some stories are better not to know.
    I know it’s a movie and not a book, but in the ending of the third Pirates of the Caribbean-movie, Jack Sparrow sails off in a small book with a map he has stolen from Barboosa. I love this! Because Jack’s story shouldn’t end like Will’s and Elizabeth’s. That’s why I was annoyed when the fourth movie came and concluded his story.
    But other stories should end. If Harry Potter for example had had an open ending, I would have murdered someone.

    – Love, Felicia
    ( )

  31. A Voracious Reader

    I don’t mind them. If they are an abrupt cliffhanger then all bets are off. Those I hate with a burning passion. I absolutely do not like driving along at top speed only to drive over the edge of a cliff, Γ  la Thelma & Louis-style. Of course, in the movie I’m pretty sure the ending is a given, but when a book just stops, mid-scene, I want to scream! I prefer some sort of resolution even if the main story arc (and parallel arcs) continues for more books. Does that make sense? lol

  32. kindlemom1

    You make some really good points and I think like all ending closed or open, it just matters how it is done. It has to be done right. Not infuriating but enough to make you want more but able to use your imagination as well.

  33. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I prefer an open ending in a romance, in that “happily ever after” is not realistic, and I like the idea that numerous possibilities lie ahead.

    In a mystery, an open ending can be unsettling, if, as you say, the threads aren’t closed …but even in a mystery, if some lines are blurred and you wonder if you really know what you thought you knew, the puzzle can keep you pondering the book forever.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  34. Lizzie the Sarcastic Blonde

    I have mixed feelings about open ended endings. Sometimes it’s nice and you can imagine your own ending, but other times I just REALLY want to know the definite ending. It really just depends on the book I guess.

  35. Stormi

    I think it depends on the book and how the author has handled answering most of the questions you have while reading it. If I am left with to many questions and no hope of a sequel then I get frustrated. If they can conclude their book in a good way and still leave it open ended then I might not like it but I can deal with it.

    I guess in the end I would like it all nice and tidy. πŸ™‚ I don’t like staring at the book wondering what happened..was it suppose to end like this..did I miss something.

  36. Celine

    I think I prefer the semi-closed, where all the important mysteries have been sold, but where not every little thing about the rest of the characters’ lives is spelled out. Just a suggestion of one is enough for me (:

  37. Trish

    I LOVE open ended novels as they just make me think about them longer. And they remain in my memory for longer too probably because I do spend so long speculating about after I close the book.

  38. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

    Well…it depends on the story. When the writer has done a great job in developing both the characters and plot, open endings can be wonderful. My best example is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, though most hated the ending. I found it brilliant. Then there’s Lethal by Sandra Brown where the book just ended abruptly before developing the relationship between the two characters. I found a way to be okay with it but it just wasn’t as skillful as I know this writer can be.

    I don’t need a bow on it…just get me there with the story and characters where an open ending can be a delight.

  39. Cynthia

    It really depends on the book and also depends on just how open-ended it is. But I don’t mind them either if they are done well.

  40. The Brunette Bookworm

    I prefer my books to have an epilogue that ties up all the loose ends nicely :). I only read romance so it’s very important to me that the characters get their HEA especially since they usually go through a bunch of ‘stuff’ throughout the book.

  41. Danielle Kincaid

    I have to say that if it makes sense and doesn’t leave me wondering to the point of frustration, then I can totally dig an open ending. In fact, last year I read a great book, though I cannot tell which at this moment. Anyhoo, the books ends with the hweoibe returning to the hero, not knowing his he will he receive her. The Dior opens, they smile, the end. I’m good with that. I do t know I’d they for married, made babies, or became friends. And I don’t need to know. Like you said, I can imagine the “ending” I want! How generous of the author, really.

    With that said, if I feel like the author is just trying to leave themselves open for another book, or doesn’t give me enough to answer most of the questions they created, well, let’s just say I frown upon that.

  42. Rachel (Confessions of a Book Geek)

    Until I read this post, I was a 100% give me answers and a closed ending kinda gal, now I’m maybe 90% that kinda gal… I’ve read a couple of open endings that I’ve enjoyed – mostly contemporary or romance where the story fades off into the distance, but even then it’s probably a half-closed ending – as in we either get our HEA or we don’t and then the reader is left to imagine the future after that. I NEED to know what happens. I’m invested in these characters and I want a full storyline!! I sometimes think not ending a story is a cop-out for the author, because then they’re sitting on the fence and won’t offend either party. Open endings usually drive me insane! Lol R x

  43. Jeann

    Open endings aren’t my favourite type of ending, I prefer a HEA where everything is tied off. But if the ending is going to be crappy or not fit with the overall arc of the story, then I prefer an open one. Great discussion Kimba!

  44. Melliane

    AH I confess that I have a big problem with open ended, wether in books or in movies, it’s so frustrating and I don’t like to have to imagine what happen next. But well it’s my point of view….

  45. Siiri

    I have a love-hate relationship with open endings. I don’t usually want those neat epilogues where someone gets married or 9 months later you see a baby being born and the parents all “we did this, baby! look at this gorgeous human being, honey! I love you so much baby girl/boy/*insert name*”–nope! I don’t need this at all. In fact, most of the time I wish for it to not be there. However, there are some instances where I just want more, e.g. In Honor by Jessi Kirby or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before or Open Road Summer–in those cases I wanted something extra, but I’m glad that they didn’t have an overly fluffy epilogue or anything after those open last lines. I really want to see how Julie ended Blood of Eden series (which reminds me that I need to start The Eternity Cure asap!) I think that every ending is different when it comes to open endings and the author can actually provide you with a lot of clues (that’s what happened with all of those novels I mentioned before), but at the same time, if you’re in too deep, that’s when it becomes a problem! You just simply can’t help but need MORE and for the story to never end lol πŸ˜€

  46. Emma

    I would prefer an open ending to a forced one. I definitely don’t feel cheated if things aren’t all wrapped up in a nice package. Emma

  47. Shelley Munro

    For me it depends on the individual book or series and the way the author handles their ending. I don’t mind an over-reaching plot ARC that isn’t completed over the course of one or two books, and I don’t mind an open-ended story, especially if I know more is coming soon. Sometimes, though, the cliffhanger makes me want to shriek and toss my kindle at the nearest wall. Indecisive, that’s me! It really does depend on the author execution.

  48. lisa thomson-the great escape

    I don’t mind open endings. They’re realistic. Life isn’t neatly wrapped up with a bow so why should a novel be. Yet, I yearn for the sweet ending sometimes. I guess I’m in the middle. Fun topic, Kim.