Exploring Mysteries: Five Books With Absolutely Unexpected Endings

For this weekend’s reading, we have reviewed for you five books that have unexpected endings. Don't worry – we won't reveal how they end! We don't want to spoil them for you.

If you are a passionate reader and a lover of mysteries, you must appreciate it when a book manages to keep you tense and when you just can’t put it down. We all try to predict how a book might end, and we often anticipate some sort of happy ending. We have certain expectations from literature, but they were outdated a long time ago. Today, literature shows just how complex life can be: it does not necessarily aim to console us. It does not always offer us sanctuary, neither does it protect us from real life. On the contrary: just like the events in real life, it follows similar, inexplicable paths, showing just how incomprehensible life can be, sometimes destroying our faith or leaving us where we feel we don’t belong. On the other hand, sometimes there is a plot twist that reveals a sudden light at the end of the tunnel. The unimaginable twist of fate can be a two-edged sword, both in literature and real life.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

This novel is categorized as a thriller. The storyline skillfully guides you towards a certain conclusion, and then the truth turns out to be something completely different. You will find yourself changing opinions as you read more and more pages. You will be thinking – „maybe that’s what the author wants me to think“, which will change your stance regarding your predictions about what is going to happen next. As the story unfolds, you will try to pay attention to every slight detail in order to construct the possible resolution of the story. But there is no way you can predict the ending! The begining of the novel is captivating:

What are you thinking, Amy? The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

Gone Girl is a novel that focuses on the marriage of Nick and Amy. Through the novel, you will get two perspectives on this marriage, both equally convincing – so you will be puzzled and won’t be sure who speaks the truth. The plausibility of each point of view is convincing, and you will start to think how fragile truth is and how it depends on the context. People can be gullible, and they can favor one version over the other just because their emotional state, life experience, and personal vulnerability guide them to do so. This book has something I like to call a double shock: the first shock will come to you when the mystery gets resolved, and the second shock will come when you see how it ends, that is – how the consequences of the main story line create an ending that seems completely absurd, but is inevitable in the context. The whole story is based on the sudden disappearance of Amy on her fifth wedding anniversary. Hence the title of the novel – Gone Girl. However, when you read through this novel, you will notice that the title has a deeper meaning. This book was written in 2012 and was a hit on the New York Times Best Seller List. Two years later, it was made into a movie. Definitely a book worth your time!

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkings

This novel is referred to as the next Gone Girl, and we had to put it on our list. Unlike the Gone Girl, here the storyline branches in multiple directions, which makes it harder to follow and to anticipate how the story will unfold. In the focus is the disappearance of Megan, which is made problematic by the relationships she had with other people, but also through the prism of her own character. Just as in the previous novel, where you had two versions of the truth (from Nick and Amy), in this book you have three different narrators: Rachel, Anna, and Megan. These three women are all connected to Tom, but we won’t reveal to you how, since that is a huge hint on how the mystery of Megan’s disappearance will be resolved. This novel is a true drama, since there are many side characters (such as Dr. Kamal Abdic), which will make it more complex to forsee the outcome of the story. The title of the novel is directly linked to Rachel’s habits: she takes the train to London on a daily basis, where she tends to contemplate her sudden misery and drink heavily. As you read, you will understand how severe her problem with alcoholism is:

One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl . . . Three for a girl. I’m stuck on three, I just can’t get any further. My head is thick with sounds, my mouth thick with blood. Three for a girl. I can hear the magpies—they’re laughing, mocking me, a raucous cackling. A tiding. Bad tidings. I can see them now, black against the sun. Not the birds, something else. Someone’s coming. Someone is speaking to me. Now look. Now look what you made me do.

Rachel is the one who will pursue the investigation of Megan’s disappearance, and you won’t believe what she finds out!

Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

If you have seen the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, you know the story. But if you haven’t – do read the book first! This book is a true treat for those who enjoy reading eery novels, especially the ones that revolve around madness and are based on mind games. The story is based on the disappearance of one patient, Rachel Solando of Ashecliffe Hospital. US Marshal Edward Teddy Daniels and his partner have the mission of investigating this case. What makes the beginning of the story creepy is the prologue by Dr. Lester Sheehan, who describes the influence of this hospital, referring to it as the island:

I haven’t laid eyes on the island in several years. I haven’t stepped foot on it in more than two decades, but Emily says (sometimes joking, sometimes not) that she’s not sure I ever left […] I thought of Teddy. I thought of Teddy and his poor dead wife, Dolores Chanal, and those twin terrors, Rachel Solando and Andrew Laeddis, the havoc they wreaked on us all. I thought that if Teddy were sitting with me, he would have seen that rat too. He would have. And I’ll tell you something else: Teddy? He would have clapped.

This thriller has everything it needs for a captivating story: an isolated hospital on the island, madness, doctors, mind games and unreliable narrators. As the novel plays with the notions of reality, dreams, and mental perspectives, you won’t be sure what to believe. The end will simply leave you gasping!

Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J.Watson

As often happens, this book was popularized by the movie adaptation. This is one of the first novels to use the motive of amnesia for a creative story. The novel focuses on the problems of identity and just how fragile one’s identity is. It is about a woman who suffers from anterograde amnesia and keeps a journal in order to remember who she is. She allegedly had a car accident and wakes up next to a man who claims he is her husband. She is incapable of creating new memories, just as she is incapable of recalling recent ones. This leaves a lot of space for you, as a reader, to freely interpret the facts that are connected to who this woman really is. She is helpless as she does not remember, so she can easily become a victim of those around her:

We’re constantly changing facts, rewriting history to make things easier, to make them fit in with our preferred version of events. We do it automatically. We invent memories. Without thinking. If we tell ourselves something happened often enough we start to believe it, and then we can actually remember it. […]What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?

As you continue reading, you will start to question just how reliable this woman’s journal is: if she is writing down facts that are imposed on her by others, how can we know they are true? If she is experiencing the world based on what she thinks she knows, can she truly discover who she is? This book is scary in the sense that it will make you empathize and think about what you would do if you found yourself in a similar situation. How can you trust anyone? The author will guide you through the uncertainties, he will make you feel like you can trust certain characters. But then – the complete plot twist will amaze you! You will feel manipulated, which is a true relfection of the power of words.

And Then They Were None, by Agatha Cristie

There is no way we could make a list of mystery books and not include the queen of crime novels – Agatha Cristie! A well known form of this type of novel includes drama, plot twists, someone’s death, and many reasonable doubts when interpreting the possible motives of the characters. However, this novel is exciting and tense because it includes many deaths and very few explanations. You can even see that maybe the great horror movie Saw picked something from it: in the Post Scriptum part of the novel, written by a killer, it is explained how the victims were selected carefully, based on their individual moral sins. The beginning of the storyline follows a cliché: many characters are somehow found in the same place where a murder (in this case – plural, murders) happen. The mysterious U.N.Owen (anagram: unknown) will spice things up a bit more and you will be amazed by the plot twists and just how ingenious one criminal mind can be, connecting the murders with spiritual forces and island figures:

Crime is terribly revealing. Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions.

Even though some of the events in the novel seem predictable, that is where you will feel betrayed: Cristie knew what the readers would expect, and so she created something completely different. You will find yourself thinking someone is the murderer (maybe you’ll even be sure of it, just as I was!) and the next moment – that person gets killed, too! This is a captivating, modern novel with an unpredictable ending, truly a masterpiece.

These five novels are our recommendation for a thrilling and exciting weekend! You will be amazed at how many different ways there are to explore one story, as things are never as they seem.

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