There's not much that can beat the feeling of falling headfirst into a book full of twists, turns, and explosive plot points. It all builds up to a surprise ending, one that if the writer has done her or his job correctly, will shock you and make you flip back through the pages to see how you could have missed it coming. I love finding a book that leaves my jaw literally hanging open, especially if I'm in public and more aware of my expressions. If a book ending can make me look or sound like an insane person in public, then I'd say it did its job phenomenally.
As I've grown older and spent years in college studying writing, I have much more respect for writers who can skillfully pace out a book so that the ending remains unpredictable and amazing. While I love a good book that ties itself together with a neat little bow at the end, I also enjoy messy endings where everything is suddenly not what it seems. Sometimes you just crave a book that will make you question everything and blow your mind at the very last second.
And these 10 books will do exactly that. Get ready for some twisted ideas and surprise endings that you won't forget in these books:
1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie is the grand ruler of twisted, shocking, and downright unforgettable endings you never see coming. When a widow's sudden suicide sparks rumors of affairs and heartbreak, more deaths follow which leads to more mysterious questions. Full of blackmail, secrets, and fascinating characters, this is Christie at her best. While this novel competes with many of her other novels in the surprise ending area, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd leaves a trail of clues, all of which are hidden so well it's impossible to see where this book will end.
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
This book doesn't scream murder mystery or thriller, but the ending was one I know I, and many other readers, didn't see coming. Gruen does a fantastic job at distracting us with the fantastical elements of the circus and the high-stakes drama between two lovers so that the ending of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth is one no one will ever forget. Even if you've seen the movie, the book builds up to this monumental ending moment that's too intense to miss out on.
3. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Tyler Durden invented Fight Club, a place where men from all over come and beat on each other relentlessly until they feel as though they can handle just about anything else in their lives. Palahniuk makes his book one of the top contenders for best surprise endings because you're led on this confusing but completely addictive path where the harm of fight club intensifies with each page flip. By the end, you have no idea who is actually pulling the strings in this philosophical mind-twister.
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is the poster child for surprise endings. Nick and Amy, a couple five years into marriage, are just about to celebrate their anniversary when Amy suddenly disappears. This book is set up to be a murder mystery from the get-go, one where the husband is naturally blamed, but Flynn's master style of writing is right along side Agatha Christie where she keeps you guessing up until the last few pages. Blowing your mind with a shocking plot twist, this is one book that will forever remain a book that changed the way I feel while reading mystery novels.
5. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
OK — I know this is a bit of cheat, but Gillian Flynn is too good at these endings! Sharp Objects does have to do with missing people, but it also has to do with Camille Preaker, a woman haunted by her past. Forced to relive it when her big city newspaper asks her to visit her old hometown where the brewing mystery takes place, you'll think you have it figured toward the end when, BAM, you really don't. And then you'll be surprised again, because Flynn doesn't end her stories with a simple cherry on top, but with a wave of shock crashing down on you, even as you close the book.
6. The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater
Yes, this is a YA series, and yes, each book will hit you with some mind blowing last line that'll have you going "What?!?" The characters in this series are a group of misfits — some wealthy beyond means and others poor just looking to fit in, some psychics, humans, and even ghosts — who are brought together on a search of a missing dead Welsh king. Between the sassy dialogue and massive plot twists, this is one series that'll surprise you again and again.
7. The Adoration of Jenny Fox by Mary E. Pearson
If you're looking for a book that'll make you question everything, read The Adoration of Jenna Fox . After waking up from a coma, a teenage girl is unable to remember her life, her name, or anything about herself. Told her name is Jenna, she's not sure if she should believe the people around her or not. Set in a near future, discussions of medical ethics and morals are brought up, making this novel a truly mind-blowing experience that leads up up to a catastrophic ending.
8. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Waters is yet another crafty writer when it comes to making a reader continue guessing until the last few pages. Fingersmith is without a doubt full of intriguing characters, especially Sue Trinder, an orphan raised by thieves. Playing a major role in a grand scheme, Sue finds herself at the center of it all, with the ability to ruin everything if she listens to her heart. What may shock you most is how the story flips at the very last minute and astounds you with the pacing and complex scheming that'll definitely blow your guesses out of the water.
9. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Four teenagers known as "the liars" spend their summer on a private island. While adults argue, teens fall in love, and lies are spread, things suddenly take a turn for the worst when main character Cady returns the next summer and everything is different, but she can't remember why. Intriguing and beautifully written, this book will surprise you at the very end to the point of possibly making you freak out.
10. Atonement by Ian McEwan
The way this story is written makes it unique in its own incredible way, but its also the ending that'll continue to play with your mind days and weeks after reading it. In the era of World War II, 13-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a crime that follows her, her family, and the story throughout. This is one story that doesn't just shock you with a surprise twist, but punches you in the gut with an unpredictable and masterfully crafted ending.