At the beginning of this year I was pressed with the difficult decision of choosing my last personal book until May. I say my last personal book, because while I continue to read copious amounts for school, I do not allow myself to pick up anything of my choosing during the semester. I've learned about myself that when it comes down to it, if I have a book I've chosen sitting next to an assigned one, I will choose my book every time. Obviously.
But I digress. I wanted something quick, something fun, something as different from Shakespeare as possible since I knew I'd be reading quite a bit of that over the next few months. But above all else I wanted something that would shock me. I wanted a book that would make my jaw drop at the first words of the last chapter.
This desire was mostly brought on by watching a recent movie adaptation of one of my favorite books from the 9th grade. I knew what was going to happen in the movie, of course, but I can recall little Kelsey sitting down with the book version, tossing the book to the ground when my mind couldn't handle the shock any longer.
Now you may be wondering what this spectacular book/movie is, but I've decided not to tell you. This is because you may not have seen this movie/read this book yet, and if you expect it to surprise you, it almost undoubtedly will fail to do so. This happened when I picked up my first book of 2011. I expected some mind blowing twist ending, and while the ending was good, I felt like I sort of saw it coming. This same effect took place when I saw the movie mentioned above with a friend who was experiencing it for the first time. "You haven't heard about how this ends yet, right?" I questioned him before the movie started. Of course, within the first twenty minutes, he already knew how the movie was going to end.
Knowing that something is supposed to surprise us makes us all the more alert in looking for clues of what might happen. Somehow this doesn't keep me from screaming at everything in every haunted house ever, but it certainly works for books and movies. I think with books and movies our expectations just reach too high when we vaguely see what lies ahead. We want the ending to be something we have never seen or heard of before, something that will split our little heads in two. This rarely happens when you can see the axe ready to do the splitting.