Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This is the end...well, sort of

I just finished a (mostly) fantastic YA mystery. The story was compelling, the voice incredible, the plot kept me on my toes. I kept thinking, I am LOVING this! Yay!

Until I got to the end. If one can even call it that. When I was almost done, I could feel the scant pages left and I wondered how in the world the author was going to tie everything up.

I shouldn't have given it a thought, because--I kid you not--the last page read to be continued.

Loose ends were not tied, the threads were simply cut. If I want an explanation, I need to buy the next book. Which, let's face it, I probably will. So, from a marketing perspective, the technique worked.

As a reader, I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I'm pretty angry. I feel manipulated. On the other hand, I'm intrigued, and still thinking about the book overall.

So what do you guys think? Does the writer have an obligation to the reader to complete the story? Should books in a series stand alone?


  1. As the author of a book with a cliffhanger ending, I have to defend it. :) In my case, the story was just too long for one book. The first book had to end *somewhere*, so it did. For some series, the author can neatly tie up loose ends and still leave you wanting for more. But for others, intended to be a series from the beginning, readers just have to know going into it that they'll have to wait for the rest.

    That said, I do think there should be some kind of climax and a bit of a conclusion. I just read an ARC of an upcoming release that ended right in the middle of the action. How frustrating, right?! I tried to at least provide an ending in mine, even if it wasn't completely satisfying. But right in the middle of the action??? Grr... Of course, regardless how much or little I liked the book, I'll be impatiently waiting on the next one.

  2. I would have been furious if the last page said "to be continued...." Though I would have found out before I got to the end. I'm one of those readers who, about 1/2 way through a book, looks at the last page and reads the last sentence. I'm impatient.

  3. Yes, Kristie, I agree, it does seem a delicate balance. I guess I was referring to what you describe in your second paragraph--sort of ending things before that emotional satisfaction is reached. You can leave readers curious but there does need to be some closure.

    Lori, do you remember When Harry Met Sally? Where Harry reads the last pages of a new book because he might die before he reads the end. I love that!

  4. I"m with Kristie. There is a balance of leaving a reader wanting more but still tying things up. To just forgo any conclusion, to just say "to be continued" would be extremely annoying to me. Unfortunately I have the personality that would make me seriously question buying the next book, if that type of thing annoyed me enough. I think it's just kind of a weird thing to do. Don't you run the risk of annoying your readers so much that they don't want to buy the next book if the author is going to pull a trick like that?

    But, I would have known before hand too, since I tend to read the last sentence like Lori does. Can't help it. I just have to know. There have only been one or two books that I made myself wait for the end. And I was disappointed by the last sentences in those cases. Go figure.

  5. I hate books that do that, especially for the first one of the series. I don't mind some loose ends so I'll buy the next book, but it must be a really good book.