Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Guest Post: Series Enders

Today, I have author Cathi Shaw here writing about series endings! I know I don't get to read a lot of series these days, but I'm always hearing about the way a series ends and how some are happy...but more often than not, a lot of people are upset with something.

The Horror of Series Endings by Cathi Shaw

            There has only been one series of books that I’ve ever read and felt satisfied with the ending. One. In the last 40 years! One!

            So what is the problem with the endings of series? I’ve been asking myself this question for some time now. I just finished the Divergent series and was horribly disappointed in Allegiant. I so looked forward to it and then it took me forever to get through and by the end I felt let down.

            The same thing happened to me with Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series (which I loved except for the ending) and Scott Westerfeld’s The Uglies and … the list goes on.

            The other thing that happens with very long series, is that I get bored (I’m ashamed to admit it but it’s true). I think back to the Anne of Green Gables and Black Stallion books I read as a young girl and I just kind of got tired of them. You could suggest that I outgrew them except I read the first 3 books of the Anne series over and over again well into adulthood. I just ignored the later books in the series.

Now as an adult (and still reading YA books) I had the exact same thing happen with the Mortal Instruments series and even (gasp) Harry Potter. What is wrong with me? I adore the characters and can’t wait for Book 2 and 3 but by the time I get to Book 5 I’ve lost all enthusiasm.

            So why does this happen? I just keep wondering why this is so and I think I know the answer. The angst and uncertainty from the first few books just gets lost by the later books.

            Take for example, Joseph Delaney’s excellent series The Spook’s Apprentice. The books are fun and I loved reading them but by Book 8 or so, I know that nothing bad is REALLY going to happen to Tom. And that takes away some of the excitement and intrigue.

            At the same time, if an author does kill off a beloved character (and here I won’t give any examples to avoid spoilers), I’m angry, hurt and frustrated.

            So as an author who writes series books, what am I to do? Are all readers as fickle as I, myself, happen to be?

            I just don’t know. As a reader, I continue to buy and read series. I continue to fall madly and hopelessly in love with them at the start and keep wanting more. And I continue to be disappointed. Except for that one series that actually pleased me with its ending.

            What book was that, you might ask? Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay. I felt it was the perfect ending to the Hunger Games. I know not everyone agrees with me but as a reader I finished that book and felt closure for the first time when reading a series. I was satisfied that there would be no more stories from those particular characters and I felt happy with the ending.

            What she precisely did to give me such closure, I still haven’t been able to fully identify but as an author who writes series, she has definitely given me (and many of my colleagues) something to strive for: an ending readers can accept.

 Thanks for stopping by Cathi! While I haven't read that many series lately, I do have to agree that I was happy with the end of Mockingjay too, even though many people were not. I felt it was realistic for the series, and that's always the main thing for me! 

Author Bio

Cathi Shaw lives in Summerland, BC with her husband and three children.  She is often found wandering around her home, muttering in a seemingly incoherent manner, particularly when her characters have embarked on new adventure. In addition to writing fiction, she teaches rhetoric and professional writing in the Department of Communications at Okanagan College and is the co-author of the textbook Writing Today.

Book Blurb (add Five Corners on goodreads)

Growing up in a sleepy village untouched by distant wars and political conflicts, it was easy for Thia, Mina and Kiara to forget such horrors existed in the Five Corners. That is until the dead child is found; a child that bears the same strange birthmark that all three sisters possess. A Mark their mother had always told them was unique to the girls. Kiara's suspicions grow as their Inn is soon overrun with outsiders from all walks of life. Strangers, soldiers and Elders who all seem to know more about what is happening than the girls do. After Mina barely survives an attack in the forest, the sisters are faced with a shattering secret their mother has kept from them for years. As danger closes in around them, the sisters are forced from their home and must put their trust in the hands of strangers. With more questions than answers, Kiara finds herself separated from everyone she loves and reliant on an Outlander who has spent too much time in army. She doesn't trust Caedmon but she needs him if she has any hope of being reunited with her sisters and learning what the Mark might mean.


Kindlemom said...

Series can be so hard if they are long (more than 5 books) to still love them after so many and of course with duologies and trilogies you get the horror of the books ending horribly or being disappointing (completely agree with you about the Delirium series, hated that ending but loved all the rest!).

I have been happy with quite a few endings though, more so in duologies for whatever reason (and then you don't get that dreaded middle book syndrome either!).

As a writer I can see why it would be so very hard but I know you can't please everyone all the time.

Alise said...

Great guest post, a lot of good points! I think a series ending can either made me really sad or really mad, haha. If it's Allegiant like I would be mad but I remember having such bittersweet feelings about the Infernal Devices and Vampire Academy ending.

A Voracious Reader said...

I love series, but unless you have a large cast of characters to work with and a long story arc (or several arcs) then the series can get stale. I'm sad when a series ends, but then again...All Good Things Must Come to an End. Right?

Cathi said...

So I think we can all agree that series endings can be tricky. Now that I'm writing TWO series, I guess I have to learn to avoid the common pitfalls of disappointment and staleness. Thanks for commenting, everyone! And thanks for hosting me, Lauren. :)

Liviania said...

Interesting. I actually like THG better as a standalone than a series.

Synchronized Reading said...

I'm always skeptical when I go into the last book in a series. They are always hit or miss for me. Great guest post!

Janina @ Synchronized Reading

Karen said...

That's so interesting because it was Mockingjay that was my worst series ending. I was so disappointed.

These days I'm like you - I'm just bored after a certain point. It could be because I read so much and can't remember every detail for the 3-5 years it takes.

I read every book as a stand alone now. I don't get that OMG I can't wait for the next book! feeling anymore which is kind of sad but it keeps my expectations in check and preserves my sanity lol

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

I so agree, I read so many series and then when I get to the end, I feel like the story still has more to tell. Epilogues are hit or miss. I guess it all boils down to the reader, we have certain expectations and we want things and the author can't possibly please everyone.

Krysten Gautreaux said...

I feel the same way about series although I think it really depends on the reader. I know a lot of people hated the way the Divergent series ended but I thought that if it had been real life it would have been appropriate.

kimbacaffeinate said...

It is always to hard to know when to end them. Some series end and I cry because as a reader I was not yest ready to let go. Others I am elated and bid them farewell. Other I think wow, that should have ended two books ago..LOL Great post!

Lauren D. said...

I'm glad to hear you both loved the end of Mockingjay too, I was beginning to think I was a unicorn cause it seems like everyone hated it. I thought it was totally fitting. Awesome post!

Medeia Sharif said...

Interesting post. I rarely finish series.

I'd rather read them all after they're published. I don't want to wait between books and forget what they're about.

Andrea Thompson said...

Oh, great topic! Series enders are tough and often are disappointing in some way. I always try to tell myself the author went that direction for a reason, but it is sad when you invest a lot of time and feelings in something that doesn't deliver.
Thanks for the thoughts!

Keertana said...

I wasn't a fan of Mockingjay, but I completely agree that series endings are SUCH DISAPPOINTMENTS since The Deathly Hallows. :/ I've been struggling with them a lot, hence the reason I've taken to picking up more stand-alones lately, but hopefully I'll start to discover more series whose endings I love.

Aylee said...

I was also very satisfied with the ending to The Hunger Games! I just couldn't see it ending any other way. But, it seems like Cathi and I are in the minority on that one because I know a ton of people hated that ending. Ah well, can't please everyone!

Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

I read a lot of series but I don't always finish them...in fact it's rare that I actually finish them. I don't like reading books from the same series back to back, so often times they simply fall to the wayside as I pick up newer books. But I'm the same way with endings, sometimes they are just disappointing like Allegiant or Narnia. Other times I find that they are perfect like Deathly Hallows or Mockingjay. Sometimes I just avoid the last book because I don't want it to be over.

Lily B said...

yeah because of this I have a bunch of series I never finished because the last book scares me. It seems to be a hit or miss. I hate that if it's a series you love and the last book ruins it. Which sadly has happened to me before.

Eileen said...

Yeah I feel like there's so much pressure most of the time to finish the series CORRECTLY and a lot of the times it just doesn't work. Using your example of Alliegant, I loved the concept behind the ending and I thought it was a very fitting ending, but it just wasn't executed well at ALL and it was just ridiculous.

Candace said...

this is a problem I have too. I actually have several series I haven't finished because I'm afraid of the end. I was disappointed in Allegiant as well. And so many others...