Do We Need Epilogues?


Your eyes fly across the pages soaking up the words. You're unsure if you want to slow down and savor it since the book is almost over or if you want to quickly devour everything because the book is just that good. You finish the last chapter, smile and turn the page. Then...

Reaction A:
Your smile brightens."Epilogue" is printed at the top of the page.

Reaction B:
Your smile disappears. The most dreaded word is printed at the top of the page: "Epilogue."

I never know what to expect with an epilogue. Sometimes it makes the book better. Sometimes an epilogue destroys the book. Sometimes I wonder why it's necessary. Would it better not to have epilogues at all? Is an epilogue imperative to close a series ender's story?

There are a few different ways that an epilogue can turn out.

1. It can help the story.

1.5 It can continue being absolute perfection just like the rest of the book

2. It can do nothing.

or worst of all

3. It can destroy the story.

I'm a bit ambivalent when it comes to epilogues. It's on a bit of a book-by-book basis. I don't have a hard and fast rule. It's not "DOWN WITH EPILOGUES!!" or "I LOVE YOU, EPILOGUES!!" I approach them with hope and weariness and skepticism all at once. More often then not I wish I could erase some epilogues from existence. Some are so final and finite, I want the happily ever after (or whatever ending there is) to have some promise and uncertainty to it. I don't want it to completely end. I want to wonder and think about what happens next. I want the story to live on. I don't need an author to quickly tell me what happens to the characters over the next 10 years in half as many pages. It's detremental to the story in my opinion. I like things left open. On the other hand, sometimes I yearn to know what happens next. The book ends so abruptly with no closure whatsoever. Sometimes the epilogue gives this necessary closure without giving away too much. There are those rare moments when the epilogue is so stunningly perfect and wonderful that you just want to bask in it's epicness. It doesn't happen often, but oh gosh, when it does you better cherish it.

1. It can help the story.
I was having a super tough time reading the final book in the Grisha series. I just didn't like anything that was happening in the final book Ruin and Rising. And then I read the epilogue and everything was a bit better. I absolute loved the way that Leigh wrapped things up in the end. The epilogue makes me smile when looking back on the series now. If not for the epilogue, my opinion towards this series would be completely different.





2. It can do nothing.
Sometimes the epilogue seems so frivolous. Was it necessary at all? Why is it here?! Opposition's epilogue neither helped nor hurt the series. I was expecting a bit more out of this final book, and I'd hoped the epilogue would sway me. All I can say about this epilogue is a big fat "meh."






3. It can destroy the story.
I've had a rocky relationship with this series Legend by Marie Lu. I was mildly enjoying the final book Champion. The ending (or what I thought was the ending) was heartbreaking and perfect and symbolic and wonderful yet tragic. It was the best ending possible for the series. Then I read the epilogue, and in a mere few pages my rating for this book plummeted from 5 stars to 3. Yes dear epilogue, it is you I blame. We read a quick run-down of the next few years, ten if I remember correctly, and Lu basically undoes everything she built up in her book. All of the sacrifices our fair legend and prodigy make basically lose all significance. This epilogue destroyed the series for me. Although they got their happily ever after, it didn't fit at all and totally took away from the whole story's arc.



1.5 It can continue being absolute perfection just like the rest of the book
 

All of these books had absolutely perfect epilogues. I was wildly impressed by them, and they really made me love the book even more. These epilogues went far beyond merely helping the book along, these books continued carrying out the amazingness of the book with an equally strong and wonderful epilogue. Boundless was sugary sweet and happy and amazing. City of Heavenly Fire had that emotional twinge since we knew it was the end of these characters arcs, but oh gosh. That little touch at the end, that small detail... Complete bliss. Even In Paradise's epilogue was heart-wrenching and beautiful all at once. *tears up*

When I finish a book I want this:



Not this:



What are your thoughts on epilogues? Do you like them? 
Which are your favorites? Least favorites?

37 comments:

  1. Same thing for me! I don't have a specific preference when it comes to epilogues, and it usually depends on the book. I have one question, though: HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY NOT LIKE THE CHAMPION EPILOGUE? It was one of the most beautiful endings I've ever read, and dammit it'll forever be one of my favorites. ;) Anyway, I'm really curious about the Grisha epilogue. I read book one and I need to man up and pick up book two. ;)

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  2. I know what you mean about epilogues, sometimes I love them, and sometimes I hate them... So I'm curious, if you read the harry potter series, what did you think of the epilogue in the final book?

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  3. A good epilogue that was called for is a nice thing. Otherwise I'm usually against them.

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  4. Aw sorry you didn't like Champion epilogue! It's actually my favorite part in that book. I understand your point, though. But I agree with you with Even In Paradise epilogue! Even though that book isn't one of my fav, the epilogue is beautiful and make me sob :')

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  5. hahaha this is a great post Rachel, I normally don't like having my books with epilogues in them, as the handful that I've read haven't really gone on to impress me that much, and I actually don't mind books which are left open so that you're left to think for yourself on the all possible things that could happen!

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  6. I generally don't think epilogues (or prologues for that matter) are a good idea. They're often just awkwardly stuck on there and don't seem like part of the story. There are exceptions, though!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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  7. I had never given much thought as to whether or not I like epilogues, but I guess I'm a little bit like you. It depends on the book. I think sometimes it is a great addition and really helps the story, or it's just irrelevant. I don't think I've ever read an epilogue that ruined the book for me.

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  8. Epilogues aggitate me. And the absolute WORST one was Harry Potter. Oh, I can't count the ways that epilogue p*ssed me off.

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  9. I'm usually against epilogues in YA books, especially if you see the characters 10 years down the line, married with babies. LOL. I can't deal with that. However, there have been some epilogues that I think are important like in Ruin & Rising! I do think it depends on how it's written. Like you said, if it's as good as the story, I'm all for it, but if it's cheese-fest, it can destroy a book for me.
    It's funny though because I love epilogues in adult romance books! I probably look forward to them the most when I read an adult romance.
    Great post, Rachel!

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  10. I hate cheesy epilogues. Where everything is oh so perfect and wrapped in a pretty pink bow and unrealistic.

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  11. I wasn't a huge fan of the Harry Potter epilogue, but that may just have been because I was so exhausted from reading hundreds of pages of run-on sentences (those last few books needed more editing). I did enjoy finding out what happened to the characters, though.

    The epilogue at the end of The Adoration of Jenna Fox was good, but it makes me wonder how the sequels fit in (I haven't read them yet).

    The epilogue at the end of Mockingjay made me depressed. I didn't like that one.

    I guess I do like them if they're done well... but I have finished so few series that I don't have a ton of experience with them.

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  12. I have never thought of an epilogue ruining a book. Usually I'm really excited for epilogues because, well I have reached the end of a book, AND I love seeing that my ships get married and stuff! I still have yet to read an epilogue that I dislike...

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  13. This is such a great question Rachel! I've never really thought about it, but your 3 reactions are spot on. I suppose that if the epilogue really does add something to the story and if it's not just there for no reason, then for the most part I'm a huge fan. It's when they are pointless and don't add anything to the story that makes me a bit skeptical of them. Thanks for sharing, and great discussion! <3

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  14. I am usually reaction A. There are so many epilogues I love because I love seeing that last little burst from the characters. I agree though. Sometimes there are some that are like, "Are you kidding me?!" and completely ruin the book. It really just depends like you said.

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  15. I'm just as open-minded with epilogues as you are. I don't mind them if they are good but if they are bad I get sooo upset. It really does ruin a book. Epilogues like Clockwork Princess' though leave me bittersweet.

    Rachel @ Rachel's Reading Corner

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  16. I normally enjoy epilogues. I think I've had good experiences with them so far, and haven't read many that I didn't like. I'll have to watch and see if my opinion changes any!

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  17. Lol! Awesome discussion post! I completely agree that epilogues can be hit or miss! I love the ones that make me sigh with happiness or give the chills! (:

    Pearl @ AsteriskPearl's Book Blog

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  18. I think I share the mixed opinion when it comes to epilogues. It can do nothing and it can do everything, and it really just depends on how well it is done! I loved the epilogue in City of Heavenly Fire especially, and I know that is one that I approve of! But it largely depends on how the author uses it to me :)

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  19. Oh my goodness yes! Champion's epilogue literally destroyed the story. It was good but at the same time I couldn't bear it! That's the whole reason I haven't written a review for that book yet... I'm still comprehending all that... Great post!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

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  20. Team epilogue, here! I kind of adore them, at least 75% of the time. I somehow forget the epilogue for Champion, I will have to go back and reread that. Apparently, it didn't leave a huge impact? My favorite epilogue ever is Mockingjay. It's hopeful, but not unrealistic. I love this topic though, because I never really thought about it- some definitely don't belong. But for the most part, I love them!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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  21. I love epilogues. If I am in love with a story, I never want it to end. I read a lot of romance, so I want to know about them in the future. I find epilogues to be a gift.

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  22. Great discussion topic! I usually love epilogues. I'm a HEA kinda girl, so I like to see the characters "ride off into the sunset" one more time, so to speak. Plus it lets me see them be all cutesy together. I admit that sometimes they can be too cheesy, but I'd rather have one than not have one, especially if it's a straight up romance book. There's nothing I can't stand more than a book that ends when the characters *finally* get together and we don't get to see them actually be together!

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  23. I usually like Epilogues, although I might not always love them 100%. So I've adored, others have been more meh... but I don't think I remember any that I feel that killed the book for me.

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  24. I lean towards the 'love epilogues' side of this debate. I think all the epilogue's i've read have more or less, enhanced the story. That being said, I have read one or two that basically did nothing. if an epilogue is just two or three days after the events of the boo, i don't care. That doesn't tell me anything. Might as well have just made it another chapter in the book and not printed 'epilogue' before it. Does that make sense?

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  25. When I was a kid, I would always just skip the epilogue. I don't even remember why, but I never wanted to read them. I haven't read too many books recently with them, but I'm okay with them. I haven't found one that I think really ruins a book, so that's alright by me.

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  26. I think that very few authors can achieve the perfect epilogue. Normally, I fall into the category that would rather skip epilogues, but every time my curiosity gets the better of me. I always swear that I will be strong this time and resist the temptation, but I can never help myself. I almost always regret it. My example is the epilogue from Clockwork Princess. It was unnecessarily heartbreaking and I wish that I had never read it. It ruined most of the series for me.
    I have a love/hate relationship with epilogues and I can never predict what is going to happen.

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  27. BUAHAHAHAH THOSE PICTURES AT THE END!

    I don't mind a good epilogue. Imo, they're always a cheesefest LOL I read it but I think nothing of it, really. I'd rather make my own LOL

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  28. It is definitely a case-by-case basis with me. Sometimes it makes the story even better, sometimes it definitely ruins it, and sometimes it just is. I honestly don't mind them most of the time, but when they completely ruin an otherwise great story, it ticks me off. I would say that I like them, for the most part though. I think if an author truly believes it adds just a touch more to her/his story, then go for it. Just don't ruin what you have built your entire story around. Unless.. You can explain it PERFECTLY, in a way that makes us understand, and say "AH, I get it"!

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  29. It all depends on the book, really. Ashes to Ashes by Han and Vivian was atrociously bad. It really killed the book and it was dead already dead to me. Harry Potter's made me smile. Most of the time, I don't really care that much if they're there. If the writer feels like an epilogue is necessary for her to "feel" to wrap it up, I wouldn't protest against the idea... as long as it's not Ashes to Ashes bad. THAT was REALLY awful.

    Faye at The Social Potato

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  30. I am so so so so glad that I read this post. I LOVE the Unearthly series and that epilogue was truly perfection. I almost cried with happiness at the end. I love epilogues but sometime they're too cheesy or just a fan service. But for the most part is enjoy them.

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  31. Love the post Rach!I have a love hate relationship with epilogues.Personally,I love books without epilogues and conclusions as I want to anticipate my own ending rather than the author writing the happily ever after.But at the same time,I also like good epilogues.Especially those in series finale.When I finish a beloved series,it's bittersweet to read the epilogue and to say goodbye to all the characters.

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  32. I agree with you on this - most of the time epilogue destroys the book for me - like I don't need to know they get old together and die lol! I was a bit sad with the ending of Champion, I did like it but I felt it was too rushed you know? This was a great post Rachel! Benish| Feminist Reflections

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  33. I'm weird with epilogues, because some books NEED them and others should never have them. Haha. I guess it just depends on the story and how the author uses it? Because sometimes, like you said, sometimes it's perfect and makes the book better, but other times it is completely unnecessary and just seems to drag out the story (which becomes annoying and can totally ruin your feelings for a book). So yeah, these are trisky things indeed! I feel the same way with prologues too.

    Also, I loved, loved, loved Ruin and Rising's epilogue! I thought it was so damn perfect for the series. <3

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  34. I mostly have good experiences with epilogues. I like it when epilogues show us a view of the future and have read a dystopia book that had an epilogue that realy added something. I also had some meh epilogues, but usually I like them. I don't think I read an epilogue that ruiend the book as far as I can remember. I also like pilogues in romnce novels, seeing the couple in the future and still together can make me happy.

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  35. I'm considering myself lucky, I haven't read a book with a bad epilogue, so I really do love them. I feel that most series conclusions need them to show what happens to their world and shows what they achieved in the final book in the long run. I'm a bit wary to finish the Legend trilogy. I didn't really enjoy Legend as much as I wanted to, and Champion doesn't exactly sound like it will do me any good. Great discussion :)

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  36. I don't think I've read too many books with epilogues, so I'm not sure my opinion is really based off much. I just remember how...not good that epilogue was for the Harry Potter series. I'm glad the story had a happily ever after, but it was sooooo cheesy!!! I feel like this series could have stood on its own with out it.

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  37. I am not sure what to think about them. Sometimes they can completely change the book in a bad way, sometimes they give the right closure and complete the story.. I guess I can't say we do or don't need them, it really depends on the author and story!

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