I was looking at reviews on Goodreads the other day for a book I recently read. I was really just skimming them to see what the average star ratings were, when something jumped out at me. One reviewer mentioned that they enjoyed the book, but the ending was wrapped up too neatly and was a little too happy.
That got me thinking. An ending can be too neat and happy? Granted, I realize real life isn’t that way, but from my fiction, I think I prefer happy endings. Most of my favorite books have happy endings, or at least a hint that someday it could be happy. I like having the girl end up with the right boy, the orphan finding a new family, the quest coming to a successful end. I like all the questions to be answered, all the foreshadowing to be revealed, and to get a good idea about where the characters are headed next. I don’t always need a sequel, but at least give me an idea of what will happen next.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I like retold fairy tales so much. Even the retold ones usually have some sort of happy ending; we expect it from the genre. And on the other side, I’m not a fan of many contemporary books. Real life is hard enough for me to live, I don’t enjoy reading about all the pain and anguish everyone else is going through. Some people like those kind of books because they can relate to the experiences the characters are going through. Me, I’m more of an “escape from reality” reader.
So yeah, sometimes a happy ending isn’t realistic. But I’ll take neat and happy over heartbroken or cliffhanger any day.