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Question: Do You Ever Peek At The Ending?

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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Carmel Signature

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 Comments

  1. I doooo. Sometimes. I can’t help it. I do it with contemporary books that somw reviewers says that it’s ‘bittersweet’ or that it made them ‘ugly cry’ I just want to know in advance if they end up together or if someone will die. But I never, as much as possible, do it when it comes to Mystery/thriller books.
    Paula M. recently posted…ARC REVIEW: One Of The Guys by Lisa Aldin

    • Sometimes it’s good to be mentally prepared for an ending, especially when the Twitterverse is buzzing with it.

  2. I have maybe once or twice before when I just HAD TO KNOW as you said. But nope, I just can’t do it normally, I’m not a fan of spoilers!
    Jeann recently posted…Golden Son by Pierce Brown Review: Bloodydamn Epic

    • I avoid spoilers with a vengeance. I won’t even read reviews ‘just in case’, but every so often…

  3. I can’t think of a single time in my adult life that I’ve peeked at the ending. I’m pretty sure I used to do it when I was younger though. The only time I want spoilers is if I plan on DNF and I just want to know how the series ends, but don’t actually want to read it.
    Melanie recently posted…Tour Stop, Review and Giveaway: Lies of Lunar Falls by Lashell Collins

    • You listen to mostly audiobooks though which makes peeking a bit more difficult, still do-able, but perhaps not quite as tempting.

  4. 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!

  5. I can’t think of a time when I did, and now that I read mostly ebooks and audio it would be hard. I don’t think I could ruin the story though.
    Tanya recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday ~ Dead Ice by Laurell K Hamilton

    • Technology has made it tougher to cheat, but where there’s a will there’s a way. LOL!

  6. NEVER!! That would just be horrible, I could never peak at the ending. If I am not liking the book I just DNF it I don’t even see if I might have liked it if I stuck with it..lol. I don’t like to ruin the ride by taking a peak at the ending even with the author kills someone or makes me mad.
    Stormi recently posted…Meet Laura Bradford|Round Three Contestant

    • Sometimes not knowing is better, however not all of us are as strong as you. 😛

  7. 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!!

    • Doing it accidentally is the WORST! I’ll often flip to the back just to see if there’s an excerpt, so I can adjust my length expectations.

  8. 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

    • Your reaction as an author isn’t overly shocking. LOL! You must be scandalized by this week’s topic, and that’s just too funny about your mother. It’s like she does it just to drive you bananas.

  9. In straight forward Romance (all subgenres)-I used to read the last chapter before starting the book. Now with eBooks, I don’t. I still do sometimes with paperbooks. With mysteries/thrillers/uf–I don’t 🙂
    Felicia the Geeky Blogger recently posted…Audiobook Review: Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean

    • I suspected as much, but it’s good to have confirmation. Hehe! At least eBooks are a way to keep you in line.

  10. Never. Which is funny because I don’t fear spoilers at all and will look at them when marked on reviews.
    Nathan ( recently posted…Tough Travels – Evil Lairs

    • That is kinda contradictory, but whatever works for you!

  11. *gasp* How could you possibly ask that? Of course not! Well, except for those couple of times when I wasn’t going to read the whole story but wanted to know how it ended. Fine. Are you happy? Totally busted. Heh.
    Mary recently posted…Pre-Squee: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

    • You just completely ruined your ‘good girl’ demeanor! Your secret is safe with me. 😉

  12. 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.

    • Spoilers in blurbs are a personal pet peeve of mine, and one of the reasons why I rarely read synopsis’ anymore.

  13. “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 😉

    • 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!

  14. I don’t recall a time when I skipped ahead. Maybe when I was considering quitting a book but even then I try not to read the ending
    Kristina D recently posted…Some Thursday Randomness

    • It’s good that you can remember a particular instance, that means that you haven’t DNF’d in a while.

  15. NEVAH! I barely read the blurbs of books, let alone the ending. Honestly, I can’t even imagine doing that…it would ruin everything. Obviously, I’m very passionate about this topic! *snickers* 🙂
    Cristina recently posted…The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

    • I fully anticipated that commenters would either be strongly for or against this. There’s no in-between on this topic IMO.

  16. 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.

  17. I try really really hard not to but I would be lying if I said I never did it. *hangs head in shame* Sometimes I just have to know that the couple are together by the end, you know?
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Once Loved by Cecy Robson

    • Precisely! Every girl needs a bit of reassurance every now and then.

  18. I have never ever done that, not have I ever been in temptation. I don’t want to spoil anything for myself. I also don’t read excerpts. But I do read spoilers in a review. Because that might hide a hot issue for me, so I won’t read the book at all.
    aurian recently posted…Recommendations from Freya for February 2015 and #LLC2015.

    • Dully noted. Reading the ending is a HARD no for aurian. 😀

  19. I did once…Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. *Mild spoiler* I was not going to freakin’ read that many pages if Jamie Fraser was dead!
    CJ Burright recently posted…Diamond Rings are Deadly Things

    • Exactly! Extenuating circumstances happen, although I’m kinda dumbfounded to see this comment coming from an author.

  20. No, I don’t peek if I intend to finish, and I usually don’t if giving up either.

    • And, I’m positive that authors the world over thank you for that!

  21. 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? 😉

  22. Yes I have done so a lot in the past, sometimes I still do. I try to be good though. An unspoiled ending is still better, it’s just so hard not to know sometimes! LOL
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Two Blogs & A Book: Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep

    • I saw your Tweet last night. LOL! I hope you resisted! Cheating with Gin Blanco titles is forbidden!

  23. I used to always peek… I know shame on me, but when I started reading more eBooks, that is a lot harder to do. I actually had forgotten I even did it!
    Lenore recently posted…#Discussion: I’m Afraid to Read the New Book in My Favorite Series

    • Oooh, oh! Hopefully I didn’t just kick start your bad habit with this week’s question.

  24. 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 🙂
    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.

  25. Some books I can’t help it. I”m freaking addicted to spoilers and I need help. Lol!

    • You and Livia should start an online support group!

  26. 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 🙂
    Yet another great question this week, Carmel 🙂 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!

  27. 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?

    • 99.9% of the time I’m with you on that one; however I have a few more exceptions than straight up DNFs, although that is the main one.

  28. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever done it, Carmel! I really don’t like doing it. What can happen though is I can accidentally read a spoiler in someone’s review:)
    kara-karina recently posted…Contemporary Romance Review: The Hooker and The Hermit by L.H. Cosway & Penny Reid

    • This is why spoiler warnings in reviews are uber important. No one likes to have an ending or a key plot twist ruined.

  29. 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

    • It’s better to know straight-up than spend hundreds of pages speculating, especially when a favourite character is involved. Talk about torture!

  30. I absolutely refuse to look at the ending, although sometimes I’m desperate enough that I’ll look up something online — usually that only happens in a particularly traumatic part of the book when I just can’t believe what I’ve just read.
    Liza Barrett recently posted…Blog Tour & Giveaway: Dark Pleasures Trilogy by Julie Kenner

    • 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.

  31. 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. 😛
    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.

  32. 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.

    • I do the page count check too. DNFs seem to be everyone’s one exception to peeking.

  33. Yep. I do, indeed. Not straight away, but usually halfway through the book.
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…Confessions of an Addict [#36]: What My Kids are Reading these Days.

    • There’s no point in doing it from the get-go, unless it’s a later installment in a series where the previous book ended in a cliff hanger.

  34. A great post! I have had my weak moments and I have peeked but not so much now; I think it depends really on how much I’m actually enjoying the book or not.
    Sharon – Obsession with Books recently posted…Review: City in Embers (Collector #1) by Stacey Marie Brown

    • Everyone is guilty of doing stuff they aren’t proud of on occasion. 😀

  35. I am with the same boat as you. I almost never do that, but sometimes I am so worried the author would do the unthinkable I have to see so I can actually enjoy the book.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Release Week Blitz & Giveaway: Invaded by Melissa Landers

    • Peace of mind can go a loooong way once you’ve lost trust in an author.

  36. I only peak if I am all omg I wanna dnf this! Then I peak, know the end and give up
    blodeuedd recently posted…The Reluctant Mage – Karen Miller

    • But, then is it really a DNF because you technically read the ending?

  37. I don’t peak at the ending of a book, I don’t want to spoil anything!
    I think I did it once for a DNF book to see if it was worthwhile and it wasn’t unfortunately. I think that was the only time though, but I don’t really count it since I didn’t finish it. 🙂
    Kelsey recently posted…Review: The Crawling Darkness by J.L. Bryan

    • Let’s just say that was your one and only mulligan, and call it a day. Hehe!

  38. 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 🙂
    julie recently posted…Books I want to read ( Cover Lusting)

    • Bookworms aren’t known for their patience, and sometimes you just gotta give in to temptation!

  39. Yes! I used to be so much worse about peeking though. (Plus the kindle helps, it’s so much harder to ‘accidentally’ see something ahead) I’ve been good lately, but it’s so much more stressful not knowing if my favorite character is going to make it or not!
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

    • Who woulda thought that eReaders would keep us honest!? Hehe!

  40. I used to do it all the time. I’d read the very last sentence and then read the book normally. But then cliffhangers started to become more and more popular, and reading the last line turned into a huge spoiler. Now I try to avoid that at all costs!
    Marianne recently posted…Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

    • 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.

  41. No, Ma’am!
    I have never peaked at the ending!
    I am shocked when I see it done.
    Happy reading, ya’ll!
    Your pal,
    ~Icky.

  42. I honestly cannot think of one book where I have ever peeked at the ending. I just don’t see the point. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Early Review: Favored By Felix by Shelley Munro

    • I get that. I just hope that you don’t judge those of us who succumb. 😉

  43. 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

    • It can be challenging to stop your eyes from wandering to the next page while your approaching the ending. Thankfully eReaders have solved that problem.

  44. 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

    • I live in constant fear of spoilers too. I’ll avoid reviews, GoodReads status updates, movies, trailers, heck even blurbs because you just never know.

  45. 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

    • Seems like that’s pretty common; no peeking unless you’re approaching DNF territory. Then, who cares, right? Cheating might just save the book.

  46. I have friends that do this all the time and I’m always appalled! 🙂 I’ve done it ONCE in my life. I was reading New Moon and I was over halfway through and decided I *had* to see if a certain someone ever came back because I wasn’t finishing the book if the answer was ‘no’. There, that’s my confession. 🙂
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…#2015HW Review ~ Bully ~ Penelope Douglas

    • 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!

  47. 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: “There’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.

  48. 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!