What is our trouble with unhappy endings? I’m not just talking about the stories that end poorly, I’m talking about the stories with unsatisfying endings. They get to us. And there we are pleading desperately for more closure. I recently stopped by the library downtown to pick up a couple of books. Because books lately have been a healthy food to my mind. I just needed to pick up a few quick reads to get me through the weekend. I finished a book called The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, and it was a book that caused me to think. Which is more than I could ask for in an author. The story was kind of tragic really. But the more I think about it the more I attach myself to the story.
The trouble with book reviews and any review for that matter is that everyone has differing opinions. I become frustrated with the people who rate everything 5 stars because not everything is worthy of 5 stars. But I also grow frustrated when I see people rate stories so poorly. There’s just too great of a spectrum. Too many different genres to compare one from the other. You must compare mysteries on the scale of other mysteries. Classics on the scale of other classics. Just because something was a different genre doesn’t necessarily mean that it is worse. Different stories speak to different people.
Let’s unpack this for a second. Reviews should be based on such things as storyline and character development. Intrigue certainly has grounds to be judged, for what good is a story if it does not capture you? Emotion of all things certainly should not have a large role in a review, because we are all innately biased. We are creatures of opinion, with differing morals, and all walks of life. This is why it frustrates me when people rate a story too low simply because they do not agree with the lifestyle of the characters.
Upon finishing The Spectacular Now I felt so empty. Before giving this book a low review I stopped to think… In a way the author did his job. I felt just as empty as the main character of the story. And isn’t that the point? To relate with in some way, to feel what the characters feel? To emerge yourself in the story and be overcome with emotion over the characters. Ok ok you’re about to have an intervention with me. Natalie… too many books. Never. Like I said, reading has been good for the mind. Swirling my imagination in every which direction. Giving me fuel to write myself. It is one of the only things that keeps me writing.
And so… I just had to say that not all stories have happy endings. And that’s difficult to accept because we all want happy endings. Hence the reason the movie version of this book just had to take the extra five minutes to provide closure. To give you what you wanted. But is that honest? Is life really full of all happy endings? No. And that’s why I kind of loved this book. The main character Sutter Keely was the most tragic character. In the end he felt he was this certain type of person and he loved this girl, but he wanted what was best for her. And it wasn’t him. As much as you wanted it to be him, you know it wasn’t. But you admire him for doing all he did for her anyway.
This is all just to say that the next time you review something take a second to think about the story. Did you not like it because it was poorly told. Or did you not like it because it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to?