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East of Eden by John Steinbeck: The Ending Sucks!!!

October 16, 2020

I’d recommend East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  I liked it.  That’s my book review.  I liked it.  But the ending sucked.

I finished reading East of Eden a couple months ago and immediately thought that the ending sucked, but I didn’t want to say anything about it right away.  I wanted to think about it a little bit.  After all, it’s a famous John Steinbeck novel.  I want to treat it with respect.

When I read the first page of a current best selling novel and can tell it sucks, I know that I don’t need to wait.  I don’t even have to explain why I don’t need to wait.  In fact, I can proclaim that a recent bestseller sucks without reading it.  Do you know all those new books that just came out this month?  Yeah, most of them suck.  Oh yeah, those award-winning novels probably suck too.

I’m not being bitter or cynical.  I’m saving you precious time.

At any rate, the end of East of Eden sucks for a couple reasons.

1.  It was predictable.

Maybe East of Eden wasn’t predictable in the 1920s.  Maybe plot twists (I won’t reveal what they are) were new in the 1920s.  It’s not John Steinbeck’s faulty that shocking plot twists in 1920 are predictable in 2020.

2.  It felt rushed.

Most of East of Eden moved deliberately.  The descriptions were plentiful without being out of control.  And then the last 50 pages, it was event, event, and then event.  The descriptions were gone.  Maybe John Steinbeck got tired of being deliberate.  Maybe Steinbeck had a deadline to meet.  Maybe he thought of a new idea for a novel.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d still recommend East of Eden.  The book itself doesn’t suck.  Maybe the ending is better than I think it is.  I just don’t think the ending holds up with the remainder of the novel.


What do you think?  Did the ending of East of Eden suck, or am I overstating it?  What other great novels have endings that suck?

  1. Marilyn Kriete permalink

    I’ve been reading East of Eden over the past month and am getting close to the last 50 pages. Thanks for the heads up! I’m sensing a speedy wrap-up and you confirmed it. Last time I read it was 50 years ago (in my early teens) so I don’t remember much of it. But I think I was much more impressed the first time around!

    • “Last time I read it was 50 years ago (in my early teens) so I don’t remember much of it. But I think I was much more impressed the first time around!”-

      Yeah, there was a lot of stuff I was impressed with in my teens. Now? Maybe not as much.

  2. I’ll have to take your word for it. I once tried to read Grapes of Wrath for book club. What a slog that was – I couldn’t even finish it. Although I liked reading Of Mice and Men in high school, you won’t find me attempting any more Steinbeck novels.

    • Haha! If it matters to you at all (I’m not trying to convince you to read another Steinbeck book), I didn’t think East of Eden was a slog. It just had a rushed, predictable ending.

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