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!
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.