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Leaving Them Wanting More. . .Or Just Leaving Them Angry?

Series books have become quite popular in the YA world. From dark and gritty urban fantasies to the tales of preened upper society high schoolers, more and more shelves at bookstores are displaying ongoing sagas. I'm not complaining. I like knowing I'll get to spend just a little longer in a great story with characters I love. But series books can also get a bad rep for committing these sins. How forgivable are they?

Cliffhanger endings.
Are these the best way to get readers in line for the next installment or will it just leave them throwing the book against the wall, swearing off the series entirely? It's great to leave some unanswered questions lurking in the readers mind, but ending a book with the main character, mid-fight and on the brink of death or standing between two love interests trying to decide, can be downright cruel!

Drawing a story out unnecessarily.
Nothing bothers me more than coming to a place in a series where the story drifts so far off the map I feel lost, only to drift back to the main story line with the next book.Of course there should be subplots, but let's just say a random sword wielding moose that is released onto the post-apocalyptic masses, just to be cleared up completely and far too neatly 325 pages later (never to be heard of again, mind you) can come across as nothing but filler if the moose didn't bring about some big revelations or changes in the main characters. Series books should have a forward momentum, some swelling to a big finish.

Have you ever gotten aggravated with a series? How do you feel about cliffhanger endings?
Amanda Hannah

Amanda grew up on a big farm in a small town with one stoplight, one school, and a handful of imaginary friends.She would’ve gone to college forever, but eight years and five majors tested her advisor’s patience. So she moved to Germany to explore creepy castles before landing in Spain where she’s perfecting her Flamenco.

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  1. Catching Fire (book two in the Hunger Games series) ended on such a cliffhanger! It just came out yesterday and I am already slowly dying because I don't know what is happening!!!! I love the series, I just wish I had come across it, say when all of them were done???

  2. Cliffhangers are SO mean. Although I kind of like them at the same time. I'm a masochist, apparently. I do like when they come to some sort of conclusion, though. I like cliffhangers like the above mentioned Catching Fire (or the first book, The Hunger Games) where you feel unfinished overall because you know there's more to come, but you don't feel like you want to kill someone because the MC is in the middle of a battle and then all of a sudden THE END.

    I'm definitely not a fan of things being drawn out for the sake of a series, either. I think a series should only be a series if there are enough events to make every book matter. I could list some that pained me, but I won't, because that's unkind and others may disagree. Although I will say (since I love and adore the other six books and think JK Rowling is an absolute genius) that the second Harry Potter book had the sort of placeholder feel to it for me. I enjoyed it the first time, but haven't reread it nearly as much as the others, because aside from Tom Riddle's diary being of importance later, the book just doesn't feel as important to me as the rest.

    So that was long and rambly. But I would really love to read about a post-apocalyptic, sword wielding moose. If anyone wants to write it. Just sayin'.

  3. Totally agree about the second Harry Potter. Total placeholder. I don't generally re read it when I re read the series.

  4. Interesting, I'd never thought about CoS that way. Although i see what you guys are saying.

    Cliffhangers are not cool, but loose ends are nice. I like wanting more. But if it literally ends on the precipice of some major event, then it just isn't a complete story. I think it's a lame way of trying to get people to buy the next installment.

    It's cool for short stories in magazines. Not cool for books which are released a year apart.

  5. I prefer stand-alone series. Where the series is about brothers, sisters,a group of friends,etc, and they each have their own story; but they show up in future books. Like Alison Kent's "SG-5" series (adult romance).

    I'm creating my YA series like that. Same characters in each book, but with a different storyline.

  6. The best cliffhanger for me was House of night the 1st book Marked that was like OMG IM BUYING THE NEXT ONE City ogf bones ending was sad and almost boring, it didnt justify how good city of ashes is going to be it didnt make me look foward to it like house of night did.

  7. I do want to wait for most series until they are finished--that way I can just pick up the next book. That being said, as a writer, I've heard you should resolve 95% of a book in a series, so you don't tick off the fans.

  8. YES, and Y-E-S! I've gotten angry at a series. I distinctly remember reading Melanie Rawn's science fiction trilogy when I was in high school, and for some "blah, blah" reason the next in the Dragon Star Trilogy was delayed-- for over a year, maybe two.

    I remember being SO PISSED. I never actually finished the series.

  9. Oh when they're delayed endlessly I find that frustrating too. It's not that I expect authors to spend ALL their time writing, but when it takes you three years to come out with something that was supposed to take one year, I get unnerved, and I also lose interest because it's been so long!

  10. I generally find that three books is enough to complete a story. I've yet to love a series that extended longer than that (HP might be the only exception). I get very frustrated with series that use inane subplots and new characters every book to extend the franchise. The Wheel of Time series is one of those that drove me nuts.

    I don't mind cliffhangers, though I prefer waiting until the entire series is out before reading. I'm not the most patient person. :) I haven't read Catching Fire yet and, although I'm excited to read it, I can wait because I know it's another ending that will leave me anticipating impatiently (and adverbidly, apparently).

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Item Reviewed: Leaving Them Wanting More. . .Or Just Leaving Them Angry? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Hannah