Chatterbox: Do endings change your feelings on a book/series?

June 27, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Features

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I’ve just finished reading Take Back the Skies, and that ending pretty much changed my outlook and enjoyment of the whole book. Here it was, coasting along 3 stars until THAT ENDING comes along and throws away the whole message that has been drilled into us throughout. While I’m still reeling from the shock, it made me think, how often do endings change your feelings on an entire book or series?

Let’s talk about Divergent for example. I absolutely loved the book, recommended it to anyone who would listen, and lapped up the seriesΒ like it was all I had. And then, Allegiant happened, and my love for that series died and I awkwardly pretend that it never existed.

Endings are extremely powerful in leaving an impact on the reader, especially since there will be no more answers or no more chances after it. This is the author’s final hurrah to leave you with a lasting impression, and whether they choose to have a Happily Ever After, throw in some sudden deaths, or leave it open for interpretation will determine your complete like or dislike for the book.

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It’s true, we may have enjoyed a book along the way, but if the ending doesn’t live up to our expectations or it creates some negative feelings, then that has the power to overthrow the reign of an entire book or series. Whether we liked the writing, characters, storyline or not.

I spotted Sarah Dessen and Nova Ren Suma discussing on Twitter how it gets harder after every new book they write, because their readers expectations skyrocket after every single book they write. While readers may or may not be satisfied with some endings, especially those unpopular ones, the author will make the ultimate decision over the impact they want to leave on their readers.

Funnily enough, even though some endings may be unpopular or shocking, they seem to be the most memorable ones that will generate discussion from readers. How many HEA endings do you remember? And how many books can you point at and go “Don’t read that because it ends badly”? I can probably pick out more books that ended badly and traumatised me rather than the ones that left me with the warm and fuzzies.

Some people will avoid those evil books because they don’t want to feel like they wasted time and energy into something that wasn’t going to end well. I’m not one of those people, but if I can see some rhyme or reason into the type of ending, then I guess it’s okay with me, even if it wasn’t a HEA.

Do endings impact the way you feel about a book or series? Which books in particular made an impact on you? (NO SPOILERS)

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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75 responses to “Chatterbox: Do endings change your feelings on a book/series?

  1. The two that stand out the most to be are Divergent also, as well as Delirium. I LOVED Divergent, Insurgant was really good and then Allegiant was just… meh. I can't say it's one of my favorite series any longer and thats sad. Delirium and Pandemonium were both amazing, and I did enjoy Requiem but I had some issues with it. It is still an awesome series, but I'm not so sure if it's my all time favorite like it previously was. Unfortunatly I haven't had the opposite happen yet where I end up adoring the series but maybe someday πŸ™‚
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  2. I think it depends really. I mean, say the part about deaths. It depends on WHO dies. Sure, if it's a character I hate, I wouldn't be THAT impacted. But I'm more on characters and whether or not I like them. Sometimes it's the writing or how the author grows as a writer.

    It depends for me.
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  3. I really do need a good ending for a book. If I liked the story, but the ending was a complete clusterfuck, it'll definitely mess with my rating. As for a series, I think it would. I don't think I've experienced a crappy ending to a good series before, so I wouldn't know about that. But I'm going with yes.
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  4. An ending to a series/book can definitely change my feelings, but it depends on the execution.

    For example, with Take Back the Skies, I just felt like it was random and totally out of the blue, so it docked my enjoyment level quite a bit.

    And more recently with Searching for Sky, the ending left me FURIOUS because it just felt so un-needed and I kind of felt betrayed as a reader for investing my time and emotions into a book that ended to ridiculously.

    But then sometimes an ending might not be a HEA but I still enjoy the novel. For example, Champion by Marie Lu. The ending left my AAHHHH-ing, but it was five star read and one of my favourite books of all time.

    So it really depends on execution, at least for me.
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    • Oh no, I haven't heard that about Searching for Sky, it's coming up on my review list! Thanks for the warning. Take Back the Skies was just ridiculous and unnecessary. Champion was such a beautiful, beautiful ending, even though I was bored throughout the book I thought it was perfect.

  5. GREAT post, Jeann! I definitely feel a change in feelings towards a book if the rest of the books in a series aren't as good reads for me, or the end changes everything: I loved Matched but Crossed and Reached were big disappointments, and by the final I just didn't feel the same about it at all, which was saddening because I'd really felt a lot for that first book, and I love the potential of the series and world. The same with The Maze Runner series- I enjoyed the first book a lot, the second for the most part, but the third completely ruined it and I really felt let down by that.
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  6. Yes absolutely. Allegiant is a fine example of a book series that was really awesome and then it just wasn't anymore. With the way it ended, it almost made the rest of the series irrelevant. Kind of like oh, well, so who cares about all that now? So an ending is very very important to the overall enjoyment of the series.
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  7. Allegiant also killed my love for the series. So did Mockingjay. It was more of hating the whole last book, though. I felt like the trilogy was too short and didn't have a powerful ending book. I actually thought the ending of Allegiant was absolutely perfect, but since I hated the rest of the book, I couldn't enjoy the shock of it. For instance, I finally watched Divergent, and while it was a fine movie, I felt jaded towards the entire series and couldn't completely invest myself into it because I knew what happened in the last book. Endings are definitely important!

    Great post!

  8. I think with series, you have invested that much more time and money and emotional energy into the story, and you are three (or a multiple of whatever # of books there are) times more disappointed when the ending seems terrible. I also agree with what others have said above about non-endings. I'm okay with happy, sad, or even open, but confusing endings or ones that just make the book seem unfinished seem like a cop-out to me on the author's part…

    Great topic!

    Jen @ YA Romantics
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  9. If the ending of a series sucks, my love dies a little with it. It just takes away all the excitement I felt and it also makes me hesitant to recommend that particular series (and if I would, with a warning for the ending) A series.. well, I wasn't a fan of the series to begin with, but the ending from the Delirium series didn't make it any better :')
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  10. Thank you, yes what she did with Four was the main reason why I didn't enjoy the book, as well as the shocking thing that happened. I thought the one for Allegiant was unnecessary.

  11. Great post. Completely agree about Allegiant, that whole book was such a let down and I just pretend it never happened now. It ended up ruining my love for the whole series, especially hated how she ruined Four in that book.

    A lot of the books I absolutely love don't have HEA endings, instead they have sad, shocking endings but I can see the rhyme and reason to them. Allegiant was just dreadful, haha.
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  12. That's so true, I hate it when you love a series and then they tend to screw up the characters so much that by the end you don't care anymore. Sounds like a lot of people were disappointed with We Were Liars πŸ™

  13. YES! I am so glad you say that, it is so true! I have heard so much about Requiem and it sucks cos I enjoyed the last 2 books. (Pandemonium less than Delirium). So when I heard about the crappy ending, I was like yeah not happening.

  14. I love happy endings as well, but probably less if they are lame, cheesy or predictable. Cliffhangers make me annoyed and I've come to expect them as a normal part of reading now. Thank you Veronika!

  15. Yes epic endings always tend to boost my rating for the books too! I do like HEA endings, but I don't mind if there are sad or open-ended ones, as long as it fits the tone of the book.

  16. That's a good way to think about the series, otherwise it could make you feel like you've wasted your time. Glad you actually liked Allegiant, I didn't like the pov of Four and I found it whiny.

  17. Absolutely, I mean if the whole book was good but the ending was lame then I would be less inclined to rate it well. I still remember the Harry Potter ending even though I read it many years ago, it was wonderful! That's a good reason to read standalones πŸ™‚

  18. That's so true, I have no idea why some authors seem to disappoint us if they know what's best for the characters and stuff, unless they are doing it intentionally. I love Joss Whedon too!

  19. Yes, cop out endings are so lame, sometimes you wonder if it was worth reading the whole thing just to get there. Oh no, I didn't realise that about E&P, I hope Rainbow Rowell won't let me down.

  20. That's so true, that's why I think sometimes when I read until the end I can give the book a solid chance. Some books are made to be frustrating until the end, like Tease which apparently made it all worth it. I hope the movie is better than the book for Allegiant because a lot of what killed it for me was Fours perspective, which we won't see a lot of in the movie. Thank you lovely!

  21. I don't mind shocking endings or no HEA. In fact, I LIKED what happened at the end of Allegiant. However, that was most because I wanted to do it myself since the second book. I do feel like I've wasted my time if there are issues/questions/situations that are never resolved. I'm not talking about a good open ending, but important things that went nowhere. I can't think of any off the top of my head right now.
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    • Oh wow, I'm glad you liked the ending to Allegiant because a lot of people hated it lol! Yeah, I know what you mean about open endings being frustrating. I think there was an open-ending at the end of To All the Boys I've Loved Before which I've just read, but at least there'll be a 2nd book to answer them.

  22. The way a book or a series ends can change a lot your opinion on both the book and series. Not all books have to have a HEA, but some books just have the kind of ending that kills the series, either by some unexpected and not really justified deaths or by simply changing the overall feel or message of the book/series.

    Allegiant, well I was spoiled on Twitter and as a result I still haven't read the book!
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    • It's so true, we don't want those disappointing endings especially after committing ourselves to a book or series. Yeah, I know what you mean, everyone's complained about Requiem and I'm not going to read it now.

  23. I say yes, they do change my feelings, hence I haven't read Clockwork Princess, or gotten to Middle Ground or Still Point yet, why I was nervous about reading Sweet Reckoning and why marathoning series and then waiting on the final book KILLS! It's sucky, but you're right, you do remember the bad ending ones more because they're bad. Great topic hunny! πŸ˜€
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    • I totally know what you mean, when I've started a series but haven't kept up to date with it, and I hear the end is crap, it makes me give up the series. Ain't nobody got time for that πŸ˜›

  24. Of course that the endings change our way at looking at the whole book or series. Especially if you're rating/reviewing it just after you finish it. It happened to me with Mockingjay. I was so pissed at that ending and I wanted to throw the book away. Now, years later I see my mistake. Great post, Jeann πŸ™‚
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  25. I totally agree that the ending can greatly affect how you feel about a book. Lately, I've been noticing that I would rate a book in my mind, but I would always tell myself it could change depending on the ending. I like those that leave me satisfied, whether it be a HEA or something else. I especially love those that leave me with a smile on my face. And I totally agree that Allegiant ruined the whole Divergent series for me. That series just got worse and worse. I only own Divergent now. I got rid of the other two. Lol. There are a lot of good books that have a left a huge impact on me with the endings. The last ones I've read are The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (epic, mind-blowing, and thought-provoking) and Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (heartbreaking but moving).
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    • That's so true, I think you've described it perfectly about endings that leave you satisfied, whether it's a HEA or something else. Allegiant was so annoying, I found myself bored and frustrated all the way through until THAT happening. Glad to hear you love The Way of Kings, I think Faye loved that too!

  26. That's so true, if I loved the first few books but the last book is horrendous, then it tends to put me off the series as a whole. Closure is a good thing, because at least we aren't left wondering.

  27. That's true, I like how there's not only HEA's and authors actually are creative with the way they end their books, but oh dear! I've heard about Requeim and I have been too scared to read it after everyone's disappointment. I'm perfectly happy with leaving it as it is for now.

  28. It would definitely get worse the more successful you are I think, which is great because it means they won't be resting on their laurels. Dramatic endings are great, but only if they do it well!

  29. Endings definitely have a greater impact on me, especially since that's when everything comes together. It's the resolution. Everything has been building up for THIS moment, so if it's a disappointment, it can be deflating because you'll be thinking, "Man, all that exposition just for this?" For me, it doesn't need to be a HEA, but it has to be memorable. It has to feel right. It can even be shocking (take Complicit for example… the whole thing was already a 5 star, but when I got to the ending, I think my rating skyrocketed to 10/5…). Dangerous Girls' ending was what made it a lot more memorable. It's the reason I recommend it. "Read this one by Abigail Haas, I swear the ending will blow your brains out!" I wouldn't recommend something with a bad ending because I don't want their reading experience to be negative either.
    Faye @ The Social Po recently posted…ARC Review: Half a World Away by Cynthia KadohataMy Profile

    • That's so true, it's what makes the whole book worth it isn't it? If at the end, you feel like there wasn't really a good story to tell, then you're bound to be left disappointed. Dangerous Girls definitely stood out because of the brilliant ending, and all our recent love for that book can attest to that!

  30. I used to be such a sucker for HEA endings that I'd feel so bad and not like a book because of it. But after reading so many books with a HEA ending, I've come to find it rather boring unless the rest of the book was really exciting to make up for it. I guess I like books that end on a hopeful, but realistic note. Maybe not everyone survived the big fight, but their actions were able to save the rest of the characters.

    Like what Tabitha said, I really don't like cliff hanger endings. I don't like books that end on cliff hangers because they sometimes feel like series bait, like the author is going "Thanks for giving my first book a chance, now read the next one!" in a blatant and in-your-face kind of way. πŸ™
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    • Wow, glad to hear that you like endings that are a bit different now Ana. I like what you said about endings where they were able to save everyone overall but maybe not everyone survived. Reminds me of Hunger Games.

      Cliffhanger endings are really blatant and more annoying than ever aren't they? I'll choose whether I want to continue the next book myself, thank you very much.

  31. I like traumatic endings – i think it takes a lot of guts for an author to do that. i don't mind when people die. What I do mind is when you are giving one message the whole book for it to be contradicted by the ending like what you just experienced.

    Also I hate cliffhanger endings. I don't even mind OPEN ENDED endings but cliff hangers are completely different and mostly I see it contained to the YA genre. As if they feel like YA readers don't have the attention span to come back and read the next book without having to have a cliff hanger? Its ridiculous. I'm even starting to hate trilogies because books one and two almost always will be cliffhangers.

    So yes an ending can destroy a book for me.
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    • Cliffhangers drive me crazy, it seems to be a cheap tactic to get us to continue reading but the truth is, they are a fact of reading YA now so it probably doesn't have the desired impact that authors want. I know what you mean about the trilogies and I am loving the new duology trend.

  32. I actually feel this EXACT way about THG trilogy. Like… really? Way to make the entire point of these novels happening totally null and moot! It definitely colored my view for the entire series. I know what you mean about the bad ones being more memorable, though.
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  33. Endings are important. It's a make or break for a series. Allegiant did kill me! WHY? WHY? WHY? Which poses a question as to What will become of the movie? But then they do make things more memorable. Like the Harry Potter series, too. If everything is just HEA, then there's nothing to discuss (well, except the goodness of it.) There's also Delirium, which felt incomplete. Then Shatter Me series, UGH. But what I need from endings are proper tying up of loose ends. Open endings sometimes make me feel so hallow and incomplete. I want to know what really happens from the author's perspective!
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  34. I love happy endings! The reasons I read this many books is to get out of this world even for the smallest amount of time BUT if a book is welly-written and exciting/interesting I can still give a 5 star rating even if the ending is the saddest thing I've ever read. I like books without real endings, like when I have to guess what will happen to the characters and where will the story go. I don't really like cliffhangers but they don't ruin the story for me just make me angry and eager for the next book. I hate every kind of endings which don't make sense or in which the author goes too far with trying to give the readers what they want and it becomes this cheesy mess. Shocking endings can make my rating higher with one or one and a half stars if they make sense and are good.

    Great idea for a discussion!
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  35. Oh heck yes! The ending is such a big deal for me. It's the last impression, therefore it usually makes a lasting impression. I think I mentioned on of my pet peeves is cope out endings. I love happy endings, but I’d rather have an ending that “sad” and makes sense than no sense at all to the rest of the book or vise versa. Shocking ending for only the value of shock is stupid, too! Bad endings can totally ruin the enjoyment of the rest of the book for me.

    I've been avoiding reading Elanor and Park because everyone's been mentioning the ending is "sad" (or something to that extent) and I'm scared to read it now, even though I love Rainbow Rowell, haha.

    Great discussion, Jeann!
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  36. Endings are almost everything.

    I dont need a HEA but if an ending is simply stupid and outrageous it definitely ruins the book or series for me. Take Requiem for example, loved Delirium had a few issues with Pandemonium and than HATED Requiem. I pretty much went to people and was like "don't even read the first book it's awesome but then everything goes downhill" I ended up only liking Allegiant's ending, i wasnt a fan of the book until THAT happened and than i could see what the message was and live with it.

    Great post!
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  37. Anything by John Green. That man pisses me off with his open endings. Whether it's the popular choice or a heartbreaker, I need a solid ending. The quickest way to kill my enjoyment for any book or series finale, is the ridiculous draw your own conclusions ending. I wish more authors would stop pissing about and give us solid conclusions. Don't leave us guessing if you have no intention of giving us another book. Awesome topic Jeann.
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  38. Yes. Definitely agree that endings change my opinion on a whole book and series, I've read books that I was very frustrated about until the end wherein everything made sense and I'm like, this is pretty awesome. I've also read books where I've enjoyed everything until the ending ruined it all. I've also not read Allegiant because I stupidly spoiled myself and now I'm just not interested. I'll probably just wait for the movie. In think it's because ending are the last punch, the final goodbye (or goodbye for now) and sometimes, it's wjatvwe remember the most! Awesome discussion Jeann! πŸ™‚
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  39. They definitely have an impact on how I view the books. I can absolutely love book one, even book two, and then you get to book 3 (or more) and it's all gone down the toilet. It's not just the ending of the last book, but usually the whole book itself, I've found anyway. I prefer a series that starts off good and then just gets better and better until I absolutely love it, rather than have a series that I absolutely love and it gets worse!

    I like closure in my books, and I do prefer a HEA ending. After The Fault In Our Stars I'm over sad endings.

    Great post, thanks for sharing.
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  40. YES! Endings do affect me and my feelings on the entire series! Like for example, when I read Mockingjay for the Hunger Games, I was disappointed that the book had ended the way it did and I often wondered about whether or not Katniss' efforts in overthrowing the government was worth it in the end..
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  41. Oh yeah, endings definitely affect how I feel about the whole book. For example, I just finished The School for Good and Evil, and although I liked it, I was getting a little ready for the book to end about 3/4 of the way through. Then it ended, and I liked the ending, and it boosted my overall rating for the book.

    I actually do remember the HEA ending books really well, but that's because I prefer those. And I do tend to avoid sad ending books, but not because I don't want to waste my time, but because I end up feeling so sad and depressed, and I don't like feeling that way.
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  42. I think if an author is writing organically and really knows her story, the ending should feel as if it "fits in," even if it's a shocker. Authors who deliberately write to try to top themselves or shock the reader because they want to give readers something to talk about just aren't doing their job, in my opinion. It's easy to kill off a character, but as Joss Whedon (my hero) says, the writer first has to earn the right to do it.
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  43. I don't think ending books change my feelings per say. If I don't like them I just regard them as an anomaly. Like Requiem . . . It doesn't change the fact that I love Delirium, it just means I don't love the series as a whole.

    I actually didn't mind Allegiant and how things went down! I enjoyed the book. The thing I found boring was how the last few chapters were written in that POV. It could've been done so much better

  44. They do sometimes. I mean, I try to not be subjective and look at the series as a whole in an objective way, but seriously? If you fuck up the ending then that's it for me. It's the last chance to impress me and if you give me something that leaves me in a depressed state? You can be damn sure that I won't ever pick up a book by you ever again. It's not the HEA that needs to be there (though it quite often should, regarding my own personal taste), it's the final goodbye to the characters and giving them a chance to shine and wrap it up nicely. I know what you mean by the traumatizing endings. I just read We Were Liars though and you can read about my feels under the review part in um. my review on Goodreads. It's under the spoiler tags where I talked to Tanja and Nick.
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  45. *hides awkwardly* I…loved Allegiant. >-< BUT I DO understand why people hate it! I just…love it. *ahem* I get that it must be huge stress on the authors. I'm thinking of how hard it'll be for John Green to write another book, what with TFIOS success and now Paper Towns AND Looking for Alaska being turned into movies?! I'm so worried!!

    But I guess I'm more for dramatic endings instead of HAEs! What can I say? I love my feels broken. πŸ˜‰
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  46. Endings matter to me HUGELY. I hated Allegiant and I basically wrote off the entire series. Then there was this book series called The Last Dragon Chronicles. Same thing – the last few books were awful and I ended up not liking the entire series. Harry Potter is one that sticks out as an awesome ending – not so much the 19 years later but everything else. Actually, this is part of the reason why I love standalone contemporaries – nothing to disappoint me but the book itself!
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  47. I agree. The ending is a big factor when I rate a book. I remember a lot of book with these kinds of endings but the latest I read with a cliffhanger is The Destiny of Violet and Luke πŸ˜€ I outright screamed "WHAAAAT!!!! NOOO IT DOESN'T END THERE!!" Haha,
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  48. Certainly!

    I'm sure you already know how much of a HEA kind of girl I am, so when I'm subjected to a ending that I'm not happy with then it ruins my entire opinion of the book. I haven't read Allegiant, but everything that I read about the book and the ending was enough to make me want to forget that I ever read the book. Shatter Me is another one where I didn't read the book and from what I heard from close friends it would be one I would hate, especially since the author changed everyone's personality from the previous books to make her chosen ship come across as the best one.

    I've read sad books, but for some reason series endings that don't end well for me are the worst because I feel like I invested myself so much in it. It's selfish, but hey, it's also human nature.

    Great post, Jeann!
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    • Oh my gosh, Allegiant definitely made me not like the entire series after that. I didn't realise that about Shatter Me too! It's so true that we don't like feeling ripped off after investing ourselves in a series.