Thoughts About Books: Plot Twists

Most of my interesting moments this summer are happening vicariously through the books I read.

The thing I’ve noticed about books is, whether they’re good or bad, deep or fluffy, long or short, literary or popular, they all get me thinking about ideas that I want to share on my blog.

I’ve thought about doing book reviews on here, but often the books I read are ones that you guys either won’t want to read or won’t be able to get a copy of, due to my acquiring them at a garage sales.

So instead, I give you “Thoughts About Books,” a general conglomeration of the things that I think about, sparked by the books I read.

This book, “Beneath the Glitter,” is a very fluffy book about two girls who got famous doing beauty videos on you-tube, and now live in LA and live extremely glamorous lives. It was just what I expected it to be–kind of dumb and poorly written, but fun and glamorous, like watching chick flicks with great fashion.

But there was a twist at the end.

It was a confusing twist, sloppily tacked on like an afterthought. Someone was plotting to steal someone else’s money, and the wrong people were blamed, and it was all very dramatic and ended suddenly with no one sure who the real thieves were.

Time to buy the sequel, I guess.

It absolutely did not fit into the plot, clarify anything for the reader, or enhance the quality of the novel one iota. I was left thinking, “why on earth did the authors feel the need to add this twist to the end?”

It reminded me of another book I read recently. “Inferno,” by Dan Brown.

“Inferno” was a fascinating read for the first 4/5ths of the novel. People were chasing people. People found ingenious ways to escape. People were trying to unravel this mystery involving Dante’s “Inferno,” and several other ancient works of art, including paintings and buildings and I don’t remember what all. The author is really one fantastic researcher.

But then, the last 5th of the novel involved plot twists. One after another after another. I can only think of one that actually clarified what had happened earlier, advanced the plot, and added depth to the characters. The other plot twists were merely sensation devices.

In the end, the bad guy won, except there weren’t really any bad guys after all, just misunderstandings. And all the chases and escapes need not have happened at all. All for the sake of the plot twists.

I began thinking about other books I’ve read. It’s amazing how many of the “bestseller” “food for the masses” type books end in huge plot twists. I’ve read two Jodi Picoult books, which did this to such a degree that I concluded she must do it in all her books.

Other books do it as well, though not as bad as Picoult and Brown. The most popular ending twist is the “wrongful death” twist, where you expect one main character to die and then the other main character dies instead, or something similar. This is so common that I’ve found myself, a page and a half before the unexpected death, suddenly realizing who’s gonna die.

Is the new formula for popular books “exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, plot twist?”

I don’t understand. Sure, give me an occasional plot twist that adds depth and clarity, but spare me the contrived tacked-on creations that are merely sensation devices and add nothing to the message the novel is trying to convey.

Thank you.

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5 responses to “Thoughts About Books: Plot Twists

  1. I love plot twist but hate books that end bad or too abruptly. –donna

  2. When they work (“Harry Potter,” LOTR, etc), they’re one of the most brilliant tricks in narrative, and as with most brilliant tricks, they ought to be used sparingly and tastefully.

  3. They need to make the story bigger, not smaller.
    Two books with semi-twists that have really made me think recently: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and Silence by Shusaku Endo. Highly recommended, both of them.

  4. The best plot twist(s) I’ve read is “In the Fog” by Richard Harding Davis. If you like Sherlock Holmes you’ll like this story.

  5. Ah, those twisty plot twists. I don’t see those too much, in the books I read, but I hate, Hate, *hate* it when there’s perfectly lovely book, and then, just when you’re thinking “this is a perfectly lovely book”, the author seems to tire, and throws in a hasty ending. “The Secret Garden” is a prime example. Seriously? If you’re going to begin with Mary, then end with Mary! Anyways, I think you would get a kick out of TV Tropes. (link below)
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Plots

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