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BTT – Twisty

Today’s Booking through Thursday is a fun, thought-provoking, two-part question from Jackie, which asks:
  1. Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?
  2. What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? OR your least favorite?
My impulse was to say that I LOVE books with complicated plots and unexpected endings, but on further reflection I decided that it really isn’t such a cut-and-dried question. I do not necessarily think that these traits are joined together at the hip. I think you can have an unexpected ending in a book that is not terribly complicated, and I think you can read a complex book without experiencing the twist ending. On the whole, however, I do think they are closely related, and I am a fan of both.
Having said that, I do not enjoy reading books that are so complex that I need to keep paper and pencil nearby to create charts and graphs in order to aid my understanding. This is not an enjoyable reading experience for me. I do enjoy books that make me think. I especially like those which have two or more subplots that appear unrelated, but somehow connect in the end. It makes me realize what a small, intimate world we really live in.
Unexpected endings are wonderful, as long as they ring true with the rest of the book. Again, this is reminiscent of life – as we constantly experience twists and turns of fate that result in a conclusion which we do not originally anticipate.

I think my “favorite” book written in this style would have to be the first book I read where I was introduced to the “twist” ending: Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. I only read this book five years ago, and I had no idea that she was known for the unexpected. She grabbed my attention with the first paragraph, and I never lost interest until the last page was read. I think I read the book in a 24 hour time period. I remember reading the last chapter and was so shocked, that I just sat on the couch dazed and confused — at first saying to myself, “no way” and then realizing that there were indeed clues all along. Now that I have read a few more of Picoult’s books, My Sister’s Keeper and Nineteen Minutes, I would like to re-read this book from a writer’s point of view and see how she manages to twist the ending, yet keep true to the “expected” outcome that the reader anticipates.
So how about you? Do you like to read books that have a nice tidy ending – or do you prefer to be surprised at how it turns out?

20 Comments

  • Anonymous

    You picked an excellent author for this topic. Jodi Picoult's books all have a twist I think. The first one of hers that I read was The Pact. It is still my favorite. I had the same reaction that you did with Plain Truth (which I also read).

    I'm a mystery lover and I think that twists are some of my favorite plot devices. That and locked-room mysteries.

  • Florinda

    Jodi Picoult is the modern mistress of the twist ending, I think…although, after reading practically every one of her novels, I'm less surprised by them than I used to be. But she does them well, and when you think about them, they really don't come out of nowhere.

  • Sandy Nawrot

    I think you summed it up pretty well! I like complicated, but not TOO complicated that I can't follow. I like unexpected endings as well. If they are predictable endings, it better be a freaking work of art or I will forget it. Now the deal with Piccoult…she really has a template that she follows with her books. She is so unpredictable that she is predictable. I got tired of it after awhile.

  • Dave and Tami

    I love a good plot twist and an unexpected ending. The only exception would be a story that has had lots of drama/tragedy and I'm waiting for it all to reconcile itself and they all live happily ever after, but they don't. Slightly depressing.

  • Anonymous

    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.
    Plain Truth is on my list list–I have never read her so that would be a good reason.

  • Jenners

    I agree with you … twists and complicated don't have to go together but often do.

    Personally, I love having the rug pulled out from under me.

    And I read "Plain Truth" but have trouble remembering the plot/twist. Was that the one with the Amish girl whose baby is found dead?

  • Anonymous

    Totally agree about that not being a simple answer. I like both. It could be because I am so moody. Somethings I like complicated, other times not. Sometimes I like surprises, other times, not.

  • Molly

    WOW — apparently twist endings are quite popular among book bloggers! Hmmm…I wonder if I could someday write my own complex plot with a twist ending?

    Jackie – I really did enjoy Plain Truth – I hope you find an equal satisfaction. I didn't realize that you were the "author" of this popular BTT question. Thanks for such a great discussion topic!

    Jenners – yes, Plain Truth is the one that focuses on the Amish community. I have always had a fascination with this culture, so I am sure that had something to do with my interest in this book.

    Kathy – I do agree. Sometimes there is nothing more needed, nor comforting, than a book with an "expected" ending. I suppose that is one reason why Jane Austen is so popular?

    Sandy – I think I can understand where you are coming from. I have not read "that" many Picoult books, so I have not discovered the formula. Although I must say I was rather proud of myself when I discovered the ending to Nineteen Minutes before it was revealed.

    Kay – I probably need to add some more "locked room mysteries" to my reading pile. I think I might really enjoy them too.

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