Skipping to the End

The other day,  Annie handed back an ARC I’d given her.  I’m not going to name the book or the author because there’s no sense in ruffling feathers unnecessarily.

She got to a certain point in the book when something very dramatic and unexpected happened and this caused her to do something she rarely does—she skipped to the end because she just HAD to know whether a certain event was going to happen.  What she read there so annoyed her, she couldn’t go back and read the in-between.  The sad thing is she had been enjoying the book until then and thinks the writing itself is quite good.

Now, this brings up a question: should you or shouldn’t you read the end of a book and then go back?  Laura (older daughter) does this routinely, even in mysteries (!), and has no ill effect from it.  I almost never do and, on those rare occasions when I succumb, it’s because the book is dragging and I don’t think I’ll read the whole thing but I want to know what’s going to happen at the end.  Usually, if I’m that meh about a book, I don’t care that much about the ending either and have already chucked it by about page 50 or so.

Is it fair to the author if you aren’t interested enough to read all the way through?  I’m not sure but it seems to me it might just be a book’s saving grace.  Suppose you’re not wanting to read the whole thing because of boredom or antipathy or even anger.  What if you skip ahead to the ending and it completely blows your socks off?  Would that make you re-think your opinion and want to try again?  Or would it make you want to try something else by the author because maybe it’s just THIS book that isn’t doing it for you?

Taking it a step further, are there some genres that lend themselves better to skipping?  I can’t imagine reading the end of a mystery early because, to me, that sort of negates the whole purpose of a mystery.  On the other hand, Laura says she can do it because knowing the ending doesn’t take away from the pleasure of reading the story.   She’s right, of course; the story is paramount.  Still, I enjoy the surprise that comes when the sleuth reveals the truth (I’m also not one of those readers who are driven to figure it out before the protagonist does).

If any books were going to make me just HAVE to know the ending early, it would be the futuristic Hunger Games trilogy about the teenaged Katniss by Suzanne Collins.  The first two, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, are so pulse-pounding that it’s hard to resist making that leap to the end but resist I did because the stories are just so good and so well-written that I hate to have them end.  I can barely wait for Mockingjay, the third and final title due out in August, and I know I won’t skip ahead on that one either as much as I might want to.