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Seven popular books with unhappy endings

By R. Audu • September 14, 2018

books with unhappy endings

I’m not ashamed to say it: I love books with unhappy endings. In my dark opinion, the sad endings are the greatest. Happy endings are comfortable, and a pleasant gift after a lengthy adventure for most readers. But unhappy endings add beauty to already great narratives, and mystery to otherwise predictable fiction.

Here is a list of seven books with the unhappiest endings [WARNING: slight spoilers, enter at your own risk]:

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American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Patrick Bateman should be ranked higher on the all-time coolest fictional characters list. He’s creative, out of control, and so horrific that he’s awesome. Bateman’s killing sprees lead him down a bottomless path of delusion and paranoia. By the end, Easton Ellis leaves us wondering how Bateman could ever have a life at all. There is no exit to the psyche of a psycho.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

A great book about a bunch of ethically bankrupt folks doing foul things to each other. Murder, mayhem and a lying narrator, there was no way for Donna Tartt to end this one happily. Pretty much everybody in this book dies.

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Plot twist: the magic happy pill causes depression.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This one is too beautiful of a story. Flowers for Algernon show us there are different types of death. Charlie is a champion at heart so it's particularly painful reading his plight. After completing the greatest mission of his life, Charlie can barely take care of himself. Tears for Charlie.

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1984 by George Orwell

This list can’t exist without 1984. The characters live in a world without room for God. There is nowhere for them to hide; no road on which they can run. Big Brother is always watching.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein’s classic might have a peaceful ending, but certainly not a happy one. A love story with so many great teaching points, it’s easy to forget how unfortunate of a tale this really is. All I can say is I definitely wouldn’t want to be treated like that tree.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl’s ending might be the unhappiest of them all. The story includes a lifetime of lies, a sick game and an empty relationship, devoid of meaning or escape. Nobody is happy when they have to pretend.

Want similar blog content? Read Six books you should read again, and again.

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