books with unhappy endings

I’m not ashamed to say it: I love books with unhappy endings. In my dark opinion, the sad endings are the greatest. Happy endings are comfortable, and a pleasant gift after a lengthy adventure for most readers. But unhappy endings add beauty to already great narratives, and mystery to otherwise predictable fiction.

Here is a list of seven books with the unhappiest endings [WARNING: slight spoilers, enter at your own risk]:

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American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Patrick Bateman should be ranked higher on the all-time coolest fictional characters list. He’s creative, out of control, and so horrific that he’s awesome. Bateman’s killing sprees lead him down a bottomless path of delusion and paranoia. By the end, Easton Ellis leaves us wondering how Bateman could ever have a life at all. There is no exit to the psyche of a psycho.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

A great book about a bunch of ethically bankrupt folks doing foul things to each other. Murder, mayhem and a lying narrator, there was no way for Donna Tartt to end this one happily. Pretty much everybody in this book dies.

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Plot twist: the magic happy pill causes depression.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This one is too beautiful of a story. Flowers for Algernon show us there are different types of death. Charlie is a champion at heart so it's particularly painful reading his plight. After completing the greatest mission of his life, Charlie can barely take care of himself. Tears for Charlie.

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1984 by George Orwell

This list can’t exist without 1984. The characters live in a world without room for God. There is nowhere for them to hide; no road on which they can run. Big Brother is always watching.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein’s classic might have a peaceful ending, but certainly not a happy one. A love story with so many great teaching points, it’s easy to forget how unfortunate of a tale this really is. All I can say is I definitely wouldn’t want to be treated like that tree.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl’s ending might be the unhappiest of them all. The story includes a lifetime of lies, a sick game and an empty relationship, devoid of meaning or escape. Nobody is happy when they have to pretend.

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