Question: Do You Ever Peek At The Ending?

Posted February 5, 2015 by Carmel in Question / 97 Comments

RRQuestion


I’m a firm believer that reading is about the journey, not the destination; however I’ll also be the first to admit that a story’s ending can often make or break the whole book. The happily-ever-after is extra sweet when you’ve experienced all of the trials and tribulations that a couple had to overcome in order to achieve their forever. Victory over the Big Bad is especially glorious when your hatred of said villain has reached its boiling point, and they finally get what’s coming to them. And, so on and so forth.

99.99% of the time I will NOT peek at the last pages because it destroys the author’s master plan of how they want events to unfold. You risk missing a crucial detail, or ruining a cleverly constructed plot line. This is very important in genres like Romantic Suspense and Mystery that thrive on keeping peeps guessing up until the final chapter. Knowing whodunit well before the character is even on your radar as a possible suspect has a way of stealing a novel’s thunder as anyone who’s read an overly predictable book can attest.

There is that pesky 0.01% though where I say screw it, and peek at the ending. I can’t think of any examples at the moment, because again, they are exceedingly rare, but the thoughts that usually precede such an action typically go a little something like this: “OMG! He isn’t really dead… is he?” or “There’s no way the author would do that to us, right?” In these instances the answer will determine whether I’ll be sticking it out until the conclusion as opposed to slapping the book with a DNF or chucking it across the room, and storming off in a huff.

There are certain things that I personally find unforgivable, and I’m confident that a lot of you have hard and soft limits when it comes to artistic license as well. Conversely, sometimes I just need to know that no matter how hopeless the current circumstances may seem that the characters are going to come out ok on the other side.

Do You Ever Peek At The Ending?


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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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97 responses to “Question: Do You Ever Peek At The Ending?

  1. Lucia from Reading Is My

    I have to admit that usually when I am kind of bored with the story and want to know if it picks up, I would check random chapters in the middle or towards the end. But I always try to avoid epilogues or last pages of last chapter so I do not spoil myself completely.
    Lucia recently posted…REVIEW: The Raven by Sylvain Reynard

    • Sometimes you just need a little extra push to help you get through the meh parts. I agree about epilogues though, those should be avoided at all costs!

  2. Pili from In Love With  

    I must say that like you I almost never peek at the ending, and I almost spoiled myself before reading Ensnared because I was checking if there was a chapters index at the end of the book to know how many there were to organize a buddy read! That would have totally killed the book and the point of it all!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #80!!

  3. Peeking at the end of a book? *gasp!* Actually, my mom ALWAYS reads the end first. It drives me crazy, and when she gets early drafts of my work-in-progress, I never let her see the end until I know she’s done reading the previous chapters. lol. The only example above that makes sense to me is skipping chapters in order to determine if a series is a DNF. I have had series that I enjoyed that had those wth chapters that I just couldn’t push through. That would be my 0.01%.
    E.J. Stevens recently posted…Q+A with Felicity Heaton and Eternal Mates Giveaway

  4. jennifer k

    I would never peek. I detest book spoilers and hate knowing the ending in advance. In fact if the blurb mentions that a book is a HEA I consider that a book spoiler and it makes me almost not want to read it.

  5. “There are certain things that I personally find unforgivable, and I’m confident that a lot of you have hard and soft limits when it comes to artistic license as well. Conversely, sometimes I just need to know that no matter how hopeless the current circumstances may seem that the characters are going to come out ok on the other side.”

    THIS. Exactly. It’s why I read the last page first an extremely high percentage of the time. I have a couple deal-breakers (like character deaths), and if a main character or love interest doesn’t make it, I just can’t bring myself work up any enthusiasm to follow their entire journey. I mainly peek at endings of YA books since they seem to be fully embracing the character death trend, but with romances I never do. I know things are going to end well so I don’t need the added comfort peeking at the end πŸ˜‰

    • The last page is indeed a good way to judge whether or not a book is worth your time. I think the genre definitely comes into play because as you mentioned, there’s no need to do so in Romance, however YA is another story entirely. All of those character deaths are killer!

  6. Well, just like you, I don’t generally leaf through to the end. I mean, you know, most of the time it would totally ruin the whole concept of the book and all.
    But every once in a while, when my fav is not the MC or their love interest, say when it’s the villain instead (rolls eyes at self, my fav is most of the time the villain, lol!), I might fall victim to temptation and just glance at the end there to see how things might go. I mean just take a really, really quick peek, just to see if the name shows up… and possibly how they die, if they do. If it’s really dramatic and heartbreaking (for me, the one rooting for the bad guy who generally gets vanquished because hello whole point of the book, haha), I might kind of skip those pages later on…

    I feel like it’s a Peekers Anonymous meeting right now, and I’m standing up and saying “Hi, my name is Livia and I’m an occasional peeker”, lol.
    Livia recently posted…Bee on Books: Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

    • Welcome, Livia, this is a safe place. LOL! I know exactly what you mean; I’m more likely to skim the last page than read it completely. I just need a name, or a tiny hint to keep me going.

  7. Before I got my Kindle I used to read the ending ahead of time all the time. Especially when reading and intense book and I was worried about the fate of a character. I will still do it when I have a physical copy, case in point Endsinger by Jay Kristoff, he was killing me and I had to know so I read the last few pages. With the Kindle, I am less inclined to peek because it is a pain in the butt, so most of the time I don’t, but there are times when I just have to know.
    Heidi recently posted…Review: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

    • Maybe eReaders are the publication industry’s master plan to stop bookworms from peeking. Naaah! Kindles come with a place holder setting that makes flipping to the ending easier than you think. Oops, did I just say that? πŸ˜‰

  8. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    No, never! Well, I’ve been tempted before, but I can’t remember the last time I gave in. I still read a lot of books digitally, so that helps – like everyone is saying, it’s not as easy to “flip” to the end and peek with than ebook πŸ™‚
    Mogsy recently posted…Tough Traveling: Evil Lairs

    • Fantasy and Sci Fi aren’t really genres that are conducive to peeking. A lot can happen in 200 pages to make the ending not make sense AT ALL without putting it into context first.

  9. The only time I’ve gone to the end has been for a DNF book, where I just couldn’t take it anymore, but wanted to know if I was right about the ending. I love being kept in suspense until the very end, it’s one of the things I love about reading a well-crafted story πŸ™‚
    Yet another great question this week, Carmel πŸ™‚ I hope you’re having a fantastic Thursday!
    Lexxie recently posted…Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts #2

    • Yeah, when a plot is too predictable, it’s a waste of time to hold out until the end to have your suspicions confirmed.

      Thanks, Lexxie! I’m surviving. Ha!

  10. I never peek at the ending and never had the urge to do so, although I guess that there are soem instances were knowing the endign could influence your enjoyment of the book either in a good or bad way. I did once spoil myself for a series, because I had to know if they would get their happy ending and if not I was fully prepared to abandon the series. But beside that I never peek and try to avoid spoilers if possible. I think knowing how it ends ruins the book and the only instance in which I could imagine myself reading the ending would be if I already decided to DNF a book, but would like to know the ending.
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Do you Reply to Review Requests?

  11. I don’t peek as often as I used to, but sometimes I can’t enjoy the story because I’m so anxious about a plot twist or whether or not my favorite character will make it to the end of the story! Drives my family crazy, but once I have my answer I’m able to enjoy the book in peace.
    Terri recently posted…January Wrap Up

    • I’ve had peeps DM me on Twitter demanding that I spoil a book for them, so that they can stop stressing about it. I always ask ’em if they are REALLY sure before answering.

  12. I use to ALWAYS read the last page first. ALWAYS. I wouldn’t peek while reading, but I just liked seeing what the ending was before starting. Most of the time it doesn’t make any sense, or just gives a sense of the tone of the ending, rather than spoiling anything. And I was reading a ton of Romance anyway, so of course there’s a happy ending. I stopped doing that when I started reading obsessively again a few years ago, because there was one time where the last page was a huge spoiler. Never did it again. πŸ˜›
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: Scintillate (The Light Key, #1) by Tracy Clark

    • For sure! The majority of the time the conclusion doesn’t make a lick of sense without knowing the full story beforehand, and for the most part, Romance is so predictable that there’s no need to cheat.

  13. Rogier  

    I do it rarely and it only happens when a book doesn’t hold my attention. I do frequently flip to the back so see how many pages it has.

  14. julie from m5monkeys  

    Yes I do and sometimes it gets me to read the book to see how it went from point a to point b. Mainly I want to know if they get together or not. I did peek with Breaking Dawn , but other times I just read and enjoy the book.

    But it reminds me of Billy Crystal in when Harry met sally — he wants to know how it ends πŸ™‚
    julie recently posted…Books I want to read ( Cover Lusting)

    • Cliff hangers kinda take the fun out of peeking because then you know that you won’t get answers until the next installment well before you’ve actually finished the current book.

  15. I’m with you Carmel, reading is about the journey not the destination! I’ve never really peeked at the end. If a book bores me to tears and I refuse to DNF it, I may skim the last x amount of pages and get to the ending. Usually I’m never satisfied that way (and happy that I didn’t waste my time reading). Haha.

    I’m especially afraid of the ending with trilogies. Sometimes I cover up theh rest of the page with my hand. Haha.
    Amber Elise recently posted…Weekly Wrap Up: February 1-February 7, 2015

  16. I have never ever (I’m pretty sure not even once) looked at the ending. I just hate spoilers. I wont even watch movies for books I want to read because it’s too much of a spoiler. Knowing the end point ruins everything for me. Its also the reason I try not to read a series out of order – I only make exceptions when I’ve been assured they are basically stand alones, but even then I try not to. I think I’m way stricter about this than most people though LOL.
    Berls recently posted…Sunday Post | 73rd Edition

  17. In the majority of instances, I don’t peek. It’s such a rarity for me, but has occurred when I am reading a book that I like the premise to, but for whatever reason, just can’t get past some issue with the writing. When it becomes too much, I will flip to the end, and call the book done. I want to say that it has only happened a handful of times in all the years I have been reading.
    Judith recently posted…Audio Review: Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr

    • Hehe! I love that you’ve only done it once, and that you vividly remember which book, and the why of it. I didn’t realize that this post was going to turn into a therapy session. LOL!

  18. Christina from Christina Reads YA  

    I completely agree with your first paragraph: yes, reading is about the journey. Yes, the HEA is so much sweeter when you’ve read the whole way through and the Victory over the Big Bad, that too. But I cannot say that 99.99% of the time I won’t peek at the ending. I don’t think that it destroys the author’s master plan – I think that depends on the book. A lot of romances, it’s easy to tell the couple should end up together by the end (unless it’s some kind of series). Thrillers, mysteries – those peeking makes worse. Yes, what you said about romantic suspense and mystery. But I also don’t read many of those books… which makes it so that more than .01% of the time, I’ll say screw it and peek at the ending. I’ve done this mostly when I’m too tired to sit and read the book through the night and I have things to do, but I’m really hooked in the book and I don’t want to wait anymore. Which is kind of terrible because then it might take me a while to get back to the book – not because the book is bad but because some of that wonder has been taken away. But it also makes the book interesting too — as you said, something like: β€œThere’s no way the author would do that to us, right?” It’s really rare for me to DNF, especially with a shocking ending, because then I wonder, wait, how did you get to that point? I’m wondering which things you find unforgivable now… Ah, character deaths?
    Christina recently posted…Giveaway: Some Fine Day by Kat Ross

    • It really sucks when it’s 2 AM, you still have 100+ pages to go, and you’re dying to know what happens. I can understand why that’s your moment of weakness. I agree though that it would indeed make it more difficult to backtrack because you already know the ending. It makes for a tough call.

  19. Mel from thedailyprophecy

    NO NEVER EVER EVER.

    If I know the ending from a book (or anything else like a TV show) my excitement is completely destroyed. Yes, I know it’s also about the journey, but if I know the ending what does it matter? I just lose all my interest, so I’m always extremely careful with spoilers.

    The only time I might peek at the ending if I DNF a book and I’m still curious enough to see how it all concludes, but that also rarely happens.
    Mel recently posted…Review 214. Merrie Haskell – The princess curse.

    • I’ve accidentally read spoilers for series that I wasn’t completely up to date on, and you’re right in saying that knowing how things go down can really kill your reading momentum. This is why spoiler alerts are crucial!