Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Five Stages of Bookish Grief: Solving Twists

Hi guys, so I was recently talking to Britt from Please Feed the Bookworm about a handful of books that we both read. None were really amazing but with all them I didn't really love the ending. For a few it was because the mystery was very much not mysterious. It got me thinking about this discussion post I have been thinking about for awhile so here it is.

I am the kind of person who reads a lot of mysteries and/or books with mystery and crazy plot twists. And because I read a lot of books with mystery, I have a tendency to figure out the twists pretty early. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty good book detective. This doesn't always ruin the book for me, but there has been a few times where this has happened. And a lot of times solving the twist makes me wonder how to respond. SO I present to you the five stages of solving twists and how you can respond.

1.) Denial

Obviously this is the stage where you think that you couldn't possibly have figured out the twist this early. Less than 100 pages in and you already solved it? No. It's a red herring, it's a harebrained theory without any real merit. You're just guessing. It's something else, you're sure of it. There's a lot of doubt here and you're thinking things like "no way," and "absolutely not, it wouldn't be this easy."

How to Respond: Just keep reading. You could be right, or you could be wrong and it's just an offhanded thought and/or a red herring. Often I'll just have this random thought where I'm like "that's probably the murderer" without any real proof. When I'm in the denial stage it's easy to convince myself that I should keep reading. If for no other reason then to find clues to verify that I'm right.

2.) Anger

So you move past denial and find clues to back up your harebrained theory. You now have verification and your not happy about. This usually happens to me if I solve the twist really early in the book. I'm talking like the first 50 pages, which has in fact happened. I also feel anger when there's a lot of dramatic irony because of something that was revealed in the synopsis. This stage and the next stage are pretty similar but when I'm in the anger phase I'm usually mad at the book or the character. I'll be thinking things like "this book is stupid" or "that was way to easy!" or you'll want to yell at the characters for being so stupid and unable to solve an obvious mystery. I'll want to hulk out on the book because it's not more mysterious.

How to Respond: Well at this stage you have two options. You can DNF. And honestly if you are legitimately angry at a book or a character then you should probably DNF it. You're just going to get more angry and resentful if you don't. But you can also keep reading. If you do decide there are some redeeming qualities about this book then keep reading. But I would suggest putting it down for a few days. Take a break so you don't actually hulk out.

3.) Betrayal

So for me, betrayal usually happens if I skip the anger step because it took me a little while longer to solve the twist. It's the I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed. It's pretty rare for me to feel betrayed. Because I think of betrayal when you're annoyed at either yourself or in rare cases, the author.  For the author it's when a favorite of yours doesn't surprise you like they did before. Like I said it's rare. But the mad at yourself here is more common. How could you have gone through all this time and not figured the twist out. Or how could you have kept reading when you figured out the twist ages ago.

How to Respond: Again you can either DNF or you can keep reading. If you are feeling betrayed at the author then I would suggest DNFing. Similar to anger, you will only get more annoyed. But if you are in the mad at yourself kind of betrayal, that's actually a good thing. Sure you figured it out but if it took you this long then it's actually pretty good. You should keep reading, again maybe take a break and cool off to see if you are interested in the book still.

4.) Depression

This is the stage where the big reveal is so close and you are 100% certain that you figured the twist out and you are so sad that you did. At this stage you'll find yourself thinking things like "WHY BOOK, WHY!" You're wondering why it couldn't be more mysterious. I often feel this instead of betrayal because I'm sad that the book didn't have a better twist or less obvious clues. When you're at this stage the big reveal is on the horizon and there is no doubt in your mind that you are right and it's just making you sad that either you kept reading or that the book just isn't working for you. I'll be sighing a lot when I hit depression. There is also a lot of frowning and general resignation.

How to Respond: Well at this phase it's kind of too late to DNF. You've gone this long you may as well finish. You're probably wishing you had DNF'd but you didn't so stop crying and finishing the book. But seriously, I would suggest at this stage to just skim until the ending. You don't need to search for clues, just verification that you were indeed correct all along.

5.) Acceptance

That's it, it's over. You were right all along. Maybe you figured the twist out on page 50 or maybe you figured it out 50 pages ago but you were right. The big reveal just happened, you and the characters are on the same page. So by now you have come to terms with the fact that you solved the twist. Now acceptance can come in two forms. The first is that resigned feeling that you figured it out and while you've come to terms with that it's made you feel like the book didn't really work for you. This can sometimes happen and it's okay. Not all books are going to work for all people. Better luck next time. The second kind of acceptance is much more satisfying. It's that feeling or excitement when you find out you were right.

How to Respond: Celebrate! Honestly you feel so much better about figuring out a twist when your response is to celebrate. Jump in the air and shout "I KNEW IT!" Perhaps you should laugh maniacally, pump your fist in the air like your football team just scored a touchdown. Get excited! You have superior intellect, you are good at solving mysteries. Yeah, it's kind of a bummer that the book didn't shock you but maybe that's not a bad thing. For me some really great mysteries are solvable with clues that help me figure it out along the way. The problem comes when you reach acceptance and there's still half the book left!

So there you have it, my feelings on solving twists and the five stages of grief associated with solving them! Have you experienced any of these? Do you DNF if you figure the twist out reall early in the book? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Haha. I love this post. I am completely naive and almost never figure out plot twists or mysteries in books, so I always celebrate if I end up being right because it's so rare. I guess it's kind of good that I can't figure it out. It sounds like your reading would be more enjoyable if you didn't always figure out the twists right away.

    1. Haha, you should always celebrate if you get the twist right, even if it's rare. It's definitely more enjoyable when I don't figure it out but I'm such a cocky little jerk sometimes that I love when I get things right too.

  2. Oh god, this is me too! It's so hard to surprise me in a book. I always worry that it sounds snobby when I say that, but I'm just, for whatever reason, good at putting the pieces together. I'm always so excited when either (a) the twist I expected wasn't totally certain but it happens and it's satisfying or (b) I'm wrong.

    Sarcasm & Lemons

    1. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this! I feel like I sound like a pretentious jerk when I'm like "oh I always solve the twists, I'm so smart" but it's the truth most of the time. I'm actually not usually excited when I'm wrong but I am excited when I'm surprised. I hate being wrong as much as I love being right.

  3. Yes to all of those stages. You described perfectly what it's like to figure out the twist, haha! Usually I push through to finish the book, because I want to see if I am right, and because I don't like to DNF books. How I feel though usually depends. Sometimes I think I know what the twist is and I like to celebrate when I'm right! I really do yell "I KNEW IT!" too. ;-) But other times I get angry or bored. I think it depends on the rest of the story - if I'm still enjoying it and the writing and the characters, then it's okay. But if I'm not connecting with the story or characters, then predicting the twist just makes it more frustrating.

    1. I usually don't like DNFing books either. And it's honestly not figuring out the twist that will do it for me. But I do sometimes get angry and board. I think the shouting "I KNEW IT" (which I also do all the time) makes me feel much better about the whole situation.

  4. Love this!! I do this ALL THE TIME and thought I was all alone.