Happily Ever Afters: Requirement or Cop Out? | Rants & Rambles

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Rants & Rambles is a weekly feature where I share my own personal thoughts and opinions about both bookish and blogging related topics. As stated, these are MY OWN opinions and while you can choose to disagree with it, I hope that you at least respect it.


This week on Rants & Rambles I want to discuss:

DINING IN TOKYO (8)

... you turn to the last page of the book…

When I was a senior in college, I took a Children’s Literature class where we analyzed a number of fairy tales. And I’m not talking Walt Disney Classics. I’m talking about the original tales written by The Grimm Brothers, Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen and Joseph Jacobs. These short stories leaned more towards the side of gore and misfortune, but even though the MCs struggled, they always ended up happy.

The hero was triumphant, the dragon was slayed, and princess found her one true love. TYPICAL! This got me to thinking about the literature I read today and how majority of the books I read do have a happy ending. Even the most heartbreaking books find some way to end on the good note. There are occasions where I read books where everyone is dead by the end, but it is rare, VERY RARE.

I started to see how we have become conditioned to ALWAYS expect a happy ending. What if our ship doesn’t sail? What if the the heroes don’t take down the villain? How do endings that deviate from the norm affect our reading experience? I then started to think in terms of writing and one question kept floating around in my head: HAVE HAPPILY EVER AFTERS BECOME A REQUIREMENT OR ARE THEY AN EASY COP OUT?1Have happily ever afters become mandatory in modern day literature? I mean how many books can you say that you’ve read that don’t end on an happy note. Majority of the New Adult books I read always either end with an engagement or a wedding. BAM, fairy tale ending! I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for this trope. I love happy endings, but let’s be real for a second: THE GIRL DOES NOT ALWAYS GET THE GUY! But readers don’t want that. They want romance, wine and dine, and forever and always. I mean, what would happen if Sarah J. Maas killed off all her male love interests and Aelin ended ruling by herself? There would be A LOT of pissed of readers around the world. So in a way they have become a requirement. Happily ever afters have become a literary norm and I think they keep the peace, while providing some sense of hope as we live vicariously through our characters.2Then there are times where I wonder if we are just taking the easy way out by writing a story with a happy ending. I mean who doesn’t like a story where things end up working out in the end? Wrapping everything up and sticking a bow on it makes a book look pretty, but sometimes I don’t want pretty. I want a little wear-and-tear because life is not always pretty. Taking a chance and writing an ending where things don’t turn out the way we hoped can be rewarding in of itself because it reminds us of life’s ugly truths. So don’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty and write that heartbreaking ending. Stop taking the easy path because reality is not always a pretty picture.3Not including The Fault in Our Stars and Allegiant, here are some of my favorite books where our MCs don’t get a happily ever after.

THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE by SARAH J. MAAS: No happy ending for Sam. I swear that last novella was brutal!

ELEANOR & PARK by RAINBOW ROWELL: The OTP did not set sail, but instead, the anchor was let down and the romance was docked. These two COULD possibly have a “happily ever after” in the future, but for now it’s just not happening.

AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR by MORGAN MATSON: Again, another book where the OTP did not set sail. The two end up going their separate ways and everything is pretty much up in the air.

FORBIDDEN by TABITHA SUZUMA: Not even going to discuss, but NOT HAPPY, NOT HAPPY AT ALL!

BRIGHT SIDE by KIM HOLDEN: There was no happy ending for our MC in this book. She put up a fight, but of course sometimes we just have to let go.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by JOHN GREEN: R.I.P Augustus Waters.

ALLEGIANT by VERONICA ROTH: We all know what happened…CHAPTER 50!

ME BEFORE YOU by JOJO MOYES: Again, NOT HAPPY! I think we all know by now how this story ends. *bursts into tears*


Happily Ever Afters are here to stay. They’ve become a norm in modern day literature and to  get rid of them completely would probably cause pandemonium. I do wish that more books would stray from this trope and show that sometimes life is NOT all ‘hearts & flowers’. I like a good book with a struggle and sometimes I wish there were more of books written without cookie-cutter endings.

That is all for this week’s Rants & Rambles. I hope you enjoyed my random thoughts!

So how do you feel about HEAs? Do you see them as a requirement or a cop out?

Let me know in the comments!

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11 thoughts on “Happily Ever Afters: Requirement or Cop Out? | Rants & Rambles

  1. I don’t mind books giving us happy endings as long as they are done realistically. I just don’t like rushed ones. When It Rains should be included on this list… and The Swan and The Jackal *cries in the corner and mends heart*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GAH so many spoilers at the end there! Haha

    I like books that surprise me, so if a book doesn’t have a HEA, I’m cool with it. I do admit that there is something about seeing these characters struggle throughout the novel and seeing everything work out well for them in the end. But there are some stories where a HEA would alter the experience of reading the novel and hurt the struggle these characters endured.

    Allegiant is an example of that for me. I really don’t know how else you could end the series without taking away from the message of the overall story. It takes a lot of guts for an author to do what Roth did and I applaud her for it. So I’m really curious to see what they do in the movies–if they are going to take the “hollywood route” or stick true to the books.

    And don’t even get me STARTED on the devastation that was Forbidden 😥

    Liked by 1 person

    • That plot twist for Allegiant was pretty good. That took guts and I’m sure that played a major role in whether or not readers liked the book. But taking a risk can sometimes pay off and I think it worked well for that series. But Forbidden…I have no words for that ending.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was interesting… I think because books for a lot of people are an escape from reality, they’re expected to have a happy ending because they’re not, ya know, real. I don’t mind not having a happy ending, but I usually want one 😉 Also, haha, it’s funny, amy and roger do end up together, cause in another Morgan Matson book they’re briefly mentioned getting ice cream together lol, but not really in amy and roger’s epic detour though

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually like endings that aren’t necessarily a Happy Ever After, but feel more like a Happy For Now. If I read a book where the character struggles and things are finally looking ok–that’s great, but don’t tell me all is well and wrap it up all pretty, I want to be left with the feeling the character might still have some problems, as long as I’ve found out they have the strength to overcome them.

    That being said, I think the Romance genre kind of requires a HEA, and it’s very expected. When I pick up a romance I want to know a little of what I can expect. Now I don’t need an engagement or a wedding, but a happy kiss does for me 🙂

    Am I making any sense at all?

    Books that fall somewhere into my “favored endings” category.
    Damsel Distressed
    Hunger Games (I TOTALLY did not see the ending of that as a HEA, just a “hanging in there” –talking end of series, not just book 1).
    Empath

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree with the Happy for Now scenario. I’ve read a few books that end that way and I think it leaves the story open to a number of opportunities. Things can go in any direction and that can make a story even more interesting. Hunger Games was one of the books we discussed and we agreed that it did not have an HEA, but rather that these two came together because of the circumstances and everything they’ve gone through together. & yes, HEA are kind of a requirement when it comes to romance and I think that’s the only genre where I let it slide.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally don’t mind if a book doesn’t have an HEA. As long as my questions are answered, I’m good. I can live with the fact that things don’t always work out the way you want them to, that’s just how life works. It drives me crazy when authors leave a ton of loose ends, like they forgot to finish the book. Happy or not. Give me a direction to go. I can probably count the number of books I’ve read without a happy ending on one hand. I don’t know if that’s me looking for a HEA or the lack of it in YA. Or both.

    Interesting post! (:

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel the same. I hate loose ends where I’m left wonder, but it looks like sequels have become such a trend that I’m not even worried when I finish a book and still left with questions haha. I think it would be interesting to see how readers would react if there were less HEA in YA. If the our OTPs don’t stay together or the main issue is not resolved, would we still be satisfied or would this affect how we rate books? I don’t think it should matter, but I’ve seen some reviewers lower their rating because they weren’t satisfied because there was no HEA.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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