I love to read. No matter how busy school keeps me (I'm grading for a 14-day stretch right now, until finals come, yeesh), I will always make time to read. Even if it's a few precious minutes a day.
Because my time is so precious right now, it's particularly frustrating to invest time in a novel and be disappointed in the end. I finished a novel last night and closed it with....a shrug. Up to the last five pages, I'd adored this book, and had expected to close it with a triumphant smile, glad about the characters getting together (finally!) in the end. And they did. But the way it happened was....strange. Unexpected. And maybe that's what the author was going for. Maybe she was trying to rattle expectations and keep the reader on her toes. But, instead, it left me disappointed and confused.
So, does a disappointing ending cancel out the whole book? Taint the whole reading experience of that novel? Some people might think so. I think it depends on how disappointing the end was. The novel I just finished was only mildly disappointing, so I didn't regret reading the other three hundred and fifty pages before it.
Also, I think something else factors in, with writers. We tend to close a book we've read, disappointed, and take it further: "Man, if I'd written this book, I would've ended it this way or that way..." (C'mon, I know you've done it). And yes, those were my thoughts last night. :-)
I guess the main lesson here is that we (as writers) can't please everyone all the time. We can't expect to meet each reader's expectations. Surely, the author of the book I finished last night didn't intend to disappoint. I'm sure she thought her ending was creative and unique. And, there might be some who loved it. But I didn't. And that's okay. As a writer, I'll try to please my own sensibilities first, follow my own writing instincts, and then hope the reader is pleased, as well, to the very last page.