Argh! or, my thoughts on series books.

I am so sick of series that if I never saw or read one again, it wouldn’t bother me in the least. Now, that’s a sad thing. I’ve read many a good series in my day. But the trouble is with all these new ones, these new series coming out. You pick up book One. You start to read it. It is a really good book; engaging, exciting, well-written, etc. So you stay up all night reading it under your covers, which is the only proper way to read anything suspenseful really, and then.
The End.
Except not.
It’s not the end. It’s The “End of Book One”. With some horrid, cruel, cliffhanger ending.
In short, the whole book was a huge ripoff.

And then to make things worse, book Two isn’t even out yet. So that means by the time it’s finally released in about a year, you’ve already forgotten half the characters and all the cute little details and everything from Book One. But even if Book Two is out, you start to wonder: how many books is this going to turn out to be? A reader can lose hope. Unless it’s called “trilogy” or something, then I start to get wary. How many cliffhanger endings can I deal with? How many 300 page books can I read?

What is wrong with books today????
So many things, my friends. So many, many things.

I mean, the book world, or at least my corner of it (the teen section, ugh), already has enough problems. Now this? This garishly obvious marketing ploy? “Oh, let’s make a cliffhanger ending. Then they’ll have to buy Book Two. And Book Three. And on and on.” Yeah, well, I’ll also have to throw your book at the wall when it’s over because it has a crap ending. So take that!

Seriously, though? No one thinks people deserve a whole book in one piece? No one thinks I deserve a halfway satisfying ending? A reward for all my trouble? It’s fine to write a series. Perfectly acceptable. It’s even OK to have a somewhat uncertain ending, one where the reader understands that they’ll need Book Two and Three and so on to complete the story. You know, where these’s a sense of hope and satisfaction but also uncertaintiy about the future. NOT like someone threw a knife while blindfolded at the manuscript to see where the ending would cut off. 

It takes skill to wrap a book up, to make an ending. I know. And that’s why it bothers me. The author is cheating when they just drop you off a cliff and then type, “the end” like it doesn’t mean anything after all that you were awake all night, waiting, expecting, hoping… only to be ripped off and reminded that everything in the world is just a stupid ploy to get your money. 

Of course, that’s just how the world works. Best we all get used to it. However, there are other ways to make me buy Book Two. Like, oh, I don’t know, writing a good story? Creating memorable characters that I care about? Just a suggestion. It sounds dumb, I know.

Maybe they’re approaching it too much from the “Information Age” perspective. As in, “they will buy Book Two because they will want to know what happens next.” vs “They will buy Book Two because they loved Book One.” I’d sure like to know whether the good team wins or if the guy gets the girl, or whatever. But that comes after the main reason, which is that I’d want to enter that world again. I’d want to revisit these people I’ve come to care about. I’d want to go through it all again.
But when I hit a cliffhanger ending that mean me throw the book across the room and sulk and feel betrayed and pace around and scour the internet for the next installment and pull my hair out and growl and rant and feel ripped off… Well, who wants to do that over and over?

And how can I re-read and re-read and re-read a book that basically has no ending? It can never be my favorite book. It can never be the book that I read when I’m sad or ill or bored or just wanting that good story again… Because it’s simply not worth it. There’s no satisfaction, no comfort. There’s not that feeling of when you finish a book and you just sort of sit there staring into space just turning it over and over in your mind for a while. Once you have the information, there is no reason to read it again.

That is a sad thing.
So don’t write crap endings.
Or else.

And hey– while we’re on the subject of what not to write in books… Don’t kill the dog.
Just don’t.
Why even put a dog in there, and go through the trouble of giving it a name and a personality and making me love it, only to kill it off quickly once the part you needed it for is over?
Don’t do that. Ever again.
Or else.
Two threats in one day… Bad endings put me in a sour mood.



4 thoughts on “Argh! or, my thoughts on series books.

  1. crescendocroise

    I absolutely loved your thought on the “information age” and I loved the quote “Once you have the information, there is no reason to read it again.” That was and incredible thought, Pen! It relates to so many other things; it is the reason that we are still exploring space, studying dinosaurs, reading old manuscripts…. Because we still do not have all the information we are still discovering new things.
    I loved this post, Pen!! I love you!

  2. Francis

    A commentary by Francis Part I.

    I wonder how long we can hold our breath to discover the ending of an unfolding mystery. The hanger, on the cliff, sometimes falls without knowing whether it will land or fly. The adventure of the hanger’s wild ride will soon be released in part II, a commentary by Francis. Stay tuned. Coming to a blog near you.

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