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Fantastic Novels with Disappointing Endings

They can’t all end with “yes I said yes I will Yes,” but is there anything less satisfying than turning the final page of a book you’ve loved and being thoroughly dissatisfied with its conclusion? This only happens to us rarely, and while a weak ending usually won’t completely ruin a great novel, it can certainly leave us feeling frustrated. After the jump, we round up books both classic and contemporary that have had us hooked all the way through, only to leave us wanting more (and not in a good way). Warning: spoilers abound.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

It’s not the book’s final resolution, which nods back to and ultimately subverts the titular “marriage plot,” that we mind — Mitchell deciding to leave Madeleine alone because he knows he’ll never be what she really wants sounds about right to us. But we’re all kinds of conflicted about how Eugenides chose to have her part ways with Leonard, the bipolar genius who she loves, and who has become powerless to stop ruining her life. The problem is that the author never seems to entirely understand this fantastic (reportedly David Foster Wallace-based) character he’s created, so everything from Leonard’s manic honeymoon episode to the depression that follows to his abrupt departure from Madeleine’s life feels cartoonish and unfulfilling.

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