It seems that with today's literature, no matter how bleak the outcome looks, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel; the MC always gets what he/she was after.
This had not always been the case with books. Some of them didn't have feel-good endings that made the reader smile and/or shut the book with satisfaction.
GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, by Jonathan Swift was one of those books that ended rather sour. Sure, the MC got home, but by the end that WASN'T what he wanted. He had wanted to stay with the Houyhnhnms. So when he got back, he spent the rest of his life estranged from his family. The only happiness he found was when he talked to his horses. This was not a happy ending.
And though most literature a few decades ago could go either way (happy or sad), dystopians ALWAYS ended badly. That was the point of them. More than just entertaining, they were warnings to readers that if we go down a particular path, we WON'T be able to dig ourselves out.
Today, though, it seems all the books I've read have happy endings, even the dystopians. Now, I'll be honest and admit most of my reading material has been YA, but I'm kind of surprised that ALL of them end happily.
Even THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy had a happy ending in its own twisted way.
But do you want to know what entertainment medium doesn't always have a happy ending?
And a few decades ago, that was almost unheard of!
It seems books and movies have switched places. Now why is that? I have my own theory.
When movies first came out, they were fresh and exciting sure, but more than that, they were NEW. People needed to be convinced to spend their money to watch something for an hour or two out of their day. So they had to be, ultimately, happy (or end happily). As the years went by, and an audience became more dependable, movies started becoming more experimental, trusting they'd get the viewers. Now, a good portion of movies end rather badly with the MC dead or otherwise ruined.
Books, on the other hand, had been around for thousands of years and had already earned their place in the ranks of education and entertainment. And more often than not, books were both educational AND entertaining. They'd earned their audience and could afford to be written in a way to make readers think.
Nowadays, though, readers have become harder to come by. Books are being run through the happy meal conveyor belt, and though they're still high quality, they've lost that educational finesse they used to have. If dystopians don't end badly anymore, was the story world really hopeless?
I'm afraid not.
Though I do enjoy a satisfying ending as much as the next reader, I'd love to read a new book written in the same style as 1984 or BRAVE NEW WORLD, and leaves me terrified of what we as humans can do to ourselves.
What do you, dear readers, think? Do you like all the happy endings? Have you read anything new lately that DIDN'T have a happy ending?