13 votes

What book had a most unexpected twist you really didn't see coming?

For me it would have to be The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.
I won't give it away here, but I really didn't see it coming when the twist hit.

10 comments

  1. [3]
    hamstergeddon Link
    Spoilers for Neil Gaiman's American Gods below! I had no real understanding of Norse mythology going into the book, so the twist really caught me off guard. In retrospect, had I known now what I...

    Spoilers for Neil Gaiman's American Gods below!

    I had no real understanding of Norse mythology going into the book, so the twist really caught me off guard. In retrospect, had I known now what I know about Odin, I might have suspected something was amiss. But basically Odin uses the main character, Shadow, to help him recruit an army of old gods (mythological ones) to combat the new gods (media, technology, etc.) because the existence of the old gods is heavily dependent on people believing in them. Immigrants brought these old gods to America over the centuries, but as the new gods rise in power, the old ones begin to fade into obscurity (with the exception of Jesus, because this is America after all). The twist is that Loki arranges Odin's murder so that the battle (which the two of them had orchestrated from the get-go) would be fought in Odin's name, thus bringing him back to life and greatly boosting his power. So Odin basically tried to wipe out as many of the gods (old and new) as a literal power grab. It's revealed that Shadow is actually a son of Odin's and was conceived and manipulated from birth for the purpose of helping arrange this big battle.

    The reason it took my by surprise is that this is a very LARGE book and 95% of it is Odin and Shadow working toward accomplishing what seems to be a noble goal of freeing humanity from the grip of the new gods and restoring some power to the old gods. Maybe it's not the most noble thing in the world, but in the context of the book it seems like an overall good thing to happen. Then you find out it was ALL just some insane plan from two desperate gods.

    And this has nothing to do with the twist, but it is my favorite scene in the book. After the battle is over, Shadow goes to Iceland and encounters Iceland's incarnation of Odin, who is very different from America's (he's jollier, less manipulative, etc.). It's a very brief scene, but I love it because the contrast between the personalities of the two Odins shows that living so far from home had made the American Odin incredibly desperate and as a result very conniving, malicious, and basically outright evil. Icelandic Odin puts it best -- "He was me, yes. But I am not him."

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      NaraVara Link Parent
      As an immigrant, a Hindu, and a general enthusiast of pagan mythologies, I didn't think any book has ever clicked with me to the extent that American Gods did. When I read it, I felt like Niel...

      As an immigrant, a Hindu, and a general enthusiast of pagan mythologies, I didn't think any book has ever clicked with me to the extent that American Gods did. When I read it, I felt like Niel Gaiman had somehow written a book just for me.

      I need to give it a reread now that I'm older and have gotten a lot more immersed in pre-modern history. I imagine there are still more layers to unpack that I hadn't even noticed before.

      I do kind of wish there was more of an examination of Hindu gods in the novel, though I understand it would have been a minefield. It's one of the rare cases where the old Gods are still actively worshipped in both the old country and the new, though with a different spin in each..

      1 vote
      1. hamstergeddon Link Parent
        Yeah religion can be a very touchy subject and I think Neil played it safe as much as he could without sacrificing the story. I'm very pleased with the exposure the book gave me to other cultures...

        Yeah religion can be a very touchy subject and I think Neil played it safe as much as he could without sacrificing the story. I'm very pleased with the exposure the book gave me to other cultures and religions though. I usually kept my phone handy while reading so I could look into the gods and other mythological beings I wasn't familiar with.

  2. [3]
    masochist Link
    The meta-twist about The Book of Strange New Things, the reason the author isn't writing any more novels, really hit me surprisingly hard. I've talked about the book here, recommended it, even, so...

    The meta-twist about The Book of Strange New Things, the reason the author isn't writing any more novels, really hit me surprisingly hard. I've talked about the book here, recommended it, even, so I'll only link to a NYTimes article which covers what happened. There is one particular paragraph in that article which ties together both the twist in the book and the meta-twist.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      maze Link Parent
      Wow, that's a heart-breaking situation. I'll have to add this book to my list. I hadn't heard of it before.

      Wow, that's a heart-breaking situation. I'll have to add this book to my list. I hadn't heard of it before.

      1. masochist Link Parent
        It absolutely is, yes. Having that knowledge makes the book make so much more sense, and drastically increases its impact. I've never heard anyone else talking about it, and I absolutely credit...

        It absolutely is, yes. Having that knowledge makes the book make so much more sense, and drastically increases its impact.

        I've never heard anyone else talking about it, and I absolutely credit volunteering at an indie used bookstore several times per week when it came out for how I know about it. They gave us small discounts for our time, but having deep insight into new book releases was far more valuable. I read broader then than I do now, even if I didn't always like what I read.

  3. parenthesis Link
    For me it was The Traitor Baru Cormorant. In a sense the ending wasn't a twist because you're sort of told what will happen (I mean the title itself is a big hint!). But I realized that I was in...

    For me it was The Traitor Baru Cormorant. In a sense the ending wasn't a twist because you're sort of told what will happen (I mean the title itself is a big hint!). But I realized that I was in the same kind of denial about how the book would end as the protagonist was. I haven't read many books whose endings have crushed me like the end of that one did.

    1 vote
  4. vakieh Link
    Read the fantasy series "The Tapestry", by Henry H. Neff. I won't tell you what sort of twist it is, or when it happens, but I will tell you there is absolutely no chance you'll guess it early....

    Read the fantasy series "The Tapestry", by Henry H. Neff. I won't tell you what sort of twist it is, or when it happens, but I will tell you there is absolutely no chance you'll guess it early. And that it's awesome. Plus it has some really good background in Irish mythology, which is just not used often enough.

    1 vote
  5. aphoenix Link
    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - I read it in the midst of binge reading a bunch of Agatha Christie (my mother's favourite author). I was often successful at reasoning out who the murderer was, but...

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - I read it in the midst of binge reading a bunch of Agatha Christie (my mother's favourite author). I was often successful at reasoning out who the murderer was, but Poirot figured this one out well before me. I really enjoyed this one and recommend it for anyone who is into mysteries.

    Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith I also read when I was much younger, and I certainly didn't see the twists coming. If you like hard-boiled noire and also science fiction, it's a delightful read.

    A Storm of Swords had a surprise wedding that I wasn't prepared for. Even 20 years on, I'm still occasionally shocked by it.

    I think most of the shocking things I've read are in books I read 20 or more years ago - maybe I'm jaded now!

    1 vote
  6. DonQuixote Link
    Brett Easton Ellis has at least one. (I've only read one of his books. I've opened and put a few others. ) You'll have to dig the title up yourself, it is that unexpected and the best I've ever...

    Brett Easton Ellis has at least one. (I've only read one of his books. I've opened and put a few others. ) You'll have to dig the title up yourself, it is that unexpected and the best I've ever read. I wouldn't spoil it for anyone.