15 Books With Cliffhanger Endings That Will Leave You Fuming, Bewildered, And Dying For More
There are few feelings that punch you in the gut as hard as turning the final page of an engrossing book, only to find that it ends on a cliffhanger. We're used to seeing these suspenseful endings on TV shows, and even on unnecessarily stretched out film trilogies, but at the end of a 600-page book it seems particularly cruel. It’s the kind of thing that will have you recklessly spending money downloading the next title in the series, or trekking to the bookstore in the middle of the night. If the next book hasn’t come out yet, you’ll probably be writing to the publisher to hurry things along. If it’s a standalone book, you’re going round to the author’s house to shout at her for ruining your life. (Just me? Whatever.) These 15 books end on cliffhangers so infuriating that you’ll be throwing them across the room... just to pick them up again to scour the last page for clues.
Image: Ian Burt/Flickr
'Catching Fire' by Suzanne Collins
The second book in the Hunger Games trilogy had readers desperately clamoring for more. Disaster has struck, but nobody knows quite how bad it is — you’ll have to buy the third book to find out.
'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn
Is this the most hated ending of all time? (Side note: I thought it was perfect, but I think I’m the only one.) While not strictly a cliffhanger, the ending is so creepily ambiguous that you’ll be screaming at Gillian Flynn to tell you what actually happens after the final page.
'The Knife of Never Letting Go' by Patrick Ness
The protagonist of The Knife of Never Letting Go is in such extreme danger on the final page that you’ll hardly be able to breathe until you have the next book safely in your hands. The Ask and the Answer picks up immediately where The Knife of Never Letting Go left off, so you can plunge straight back in.
'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner
You’ve finally got to the end of this insanely mysterious book, and at last — your questions are being answered. But wait, those answers just open up even more questions! And now the book’s over! That James Dashner has some serious explaining to do.
'Pivot Point' by Kasie West
Pivot Point ends on a hopeful note, but it’s not the reassurance you deserve after the nerve-wracking journey you’ve had. Can it be true that everything you rooted for all book might not happen?
'Fight Club' by Chuck Palahniuk
The excellent film version of Fight Club has made the twist ending too infamous to surprise anyone, but the book ends on an even more confusing note. This one seriously needs an extra chapter to explain what just happened.
'The Circle' by Dave Eggers
The Circle might be the most terrifying dystopian world in contemporary literature, if only because it’s not actually all that different from reality. Toward the end of the book, it looks promising that everything will be resolved, but the menacing final page suggests there’s much worse to come.
'The French Lieutenant's Woman' by John Fowles
The French Lieutenant’s Woman doesn’t just have one cliffhanger ending — it has three. John Fowles plays with the typical relationship between author and character, deciding that in the end he can’t control what they’re going to do. It’s a fascinating premise, but you can’t help wishing he’d just pick one and give you the answer.
'Vile Bodies' by Evelyn Waugh
When Stephen Fry adapted this book into the cheerier sounding Bright Young Things, he gave it a happy ending to match. The original book has a much bleaker finish: it’s pretty obvious things aren’t going to end well, but Evelyn Waugh sure isn’t going to confirm anything.
'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale ends at such a crucial point in the protagonist’s journey that it seems terribly cruel there’s no sequel. Only Margaret Atwood knows how it all ends for the poor handmaid. Hey, M, any hints?
'A Million Suns' by Beth Revis
'Gone with the Wind' by Margaret Mitchell
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” might just be the most misquoted last line of any film. In fact, the last line of both the film and the original book is much more open-ended: “Tomorrow is another day.” A whole chapter of Scarlett O’Hara’s life is just beginning when we are cruelly shut out.
'Opal' by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Do all YA writers take the same course on how to deliver a truly brutal cliffhanger? The ending to Opal, the third book in the Lux series, had internet forums exploding with readers convinced their copy was missing its final pages. Make sure you have the next book in the series within arm’s reach.
'The Waste Lands' by Stephen King
The Waste Lands is the third book in the The Dark Tower series, and its ending is the most gut-wrenchingly tense. To make things worse, readers had to wait six whole years before Stephen King released the next book in the series.