This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the many problems one can run into as a book nerd.
The “Wait, Nothing Happened in this Book” Cliffhanger
If I can sum up the plot – including the revelations and conflicts – in one sentence, you’re in freaking trouble mister. It just feels like such a cop out – just a way to jump on the series bandwagon. Look, I know series are popular, and I know that if you’re writing a fantasy or sci-fi novel it could be hard to fit it into one book and give enough development to the characters and the world. But I do feel like each installment of the series needs to have a conflict and a freaking resolution to that conflict. If you don’t, you’re not going to get me to care enough to read the rest of the series. You’re just not.
I’m honestly considering instantly dumping all the series that end book 1 with this kind of cliffhanger. I have had it. If you only have one large conflict, consider not writing a series and just fitting it into one slightly larger novel. What’s wrong with that??
- The Jewel by Amy Ewing: As much as I liked the world building of the book, when the romance took dominance over the story, I wanted to *headdesk*. But seriously, nothing happened in this book until the last 40 pages or so. That’s unacceptable. View Spoiler »And I’m supposed to CARE now that Ash might get executed? Uh, no. « Hide Spoiler Your attempt at suspense failed. Please try again. Or no. Don’t. DON’T FUCKING DO THIS AGAIN.
- The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien: Admittedly this had a bit more plot than The Jewel – which is why I gave it a higher rating – but it went on and on inciting intrigue and teasing about these mysteries, and then it just ENDS in the middle of a scene and I couldn’t even freaking tell you what happened there. Could not. View Spoiler »Rosie was basically not much closer to finding out what’s happening at the school than at the beginning of the book. Ugh. What she did find out I could sum up in one sentence. SNORE. « Hide Spoiler
- Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly: I can really sum up the plot in one sentence. View Spoiler »There’s a prophecy about 6 mermaids, who travel to some remote location to join up and get ready to fight. « Hide Spoiler And even that sliver of plot wasn’t exciting – View Spoiler »all the mermaids just traveled there themselves – they didn’t even have to hunt each other down. « Hide Spoiler This book was a total snoozefest.
The “Tip of the Iceberg” Cliffhanger
Now, this is not always a bad thing. I mean, if the plot was intriguing enough and I have an emotional connection to the characters and the romance or something, I’ll be excited as hell. I mean, the ending is pretty much neatly tied up, but there’s also the promise of more to come.
But. There are those cases where again it feels like a cop out to jump on the series bandwagon. I feel like in some cases, the book really could have been a standalone. It was working well enough, and you’re just holding back that last CRUMB that would make everything fall into place – instead, you’re now going to stretch it and milk it and force us to wait for years before you finally resolve everything – and probably the ending will be a total mess because the series lacks direction. SAD.
- The Diviners by Libba Bray: I would argue The Diviners did this to an extent, because after the conflict was resolved, it actually spent 40 pages or so opening the door to the plot of the next book. It did annoy me a bit, because for the rest the book could have stood on its own, and I feel like it would have been better to end when the action ended. BUT I am enticed enough by the beautiful writing and EVIE AND SAM, so I will continue on.
- The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain: This book DEFINITELY did this, and it bordered on not having enough plot that I would almost put it in the former category. But I was intrigued by the world building and I did feel there was enough action in the plot. But after sitting through FIVE HUNDRED pages, to hear that we barely scratched the surface, and now the real story is beginning? UGH NO. RAGE. As much as I liked all the Greek mythology, I don’t think I’m continuing with the series.
- Meridian by Josin L. McQuein: This is actually the middle book in a series, but I thought it was going to be a duology. The book was boring, though there were some battles and stuff, but the problem is that it lacks direction – I can’t tell where the story is going or what the POINT of it is. So to reach the end of this one, which was also quite chunky, and hear that well NOW it’s time for war – that was just a battle – UGH. NO THANK YOU.
- Pawn by Aimée Carter: Admittedly I liked this book, and I feel like it’s one of the stronger dystopias to come out lately. But the way the ending was a cop out to make this a series? Dude, come on. View Spoiler »Kitty had the opportunity to kill Daxton, the antagonist, which likely could have brought down the whole dystopian regime. BUT SHE DOESN’T. « Hide Spoiler The series really could have ended there, but then we wouldn’t be able to milk it. I still dunno if I want to give the sequel my time and money because of that.
The “Gasping for More” Cliffhanger
Now I’m not advising authors to try their best to break their readers’ hearts, but generally, I do really like these cliffhangers. They really carry that last shocking sucker punch that leaves me impressed and begging for more. It’ll make the book overall that much more memorable, and it will almost certainly ensure a pre-order of the sequel. (Or a binge read of the series if it’s already out.) Basically, I’ll be on the hook and counting down the days till I can finally have MORE.
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: View Spoiler »“Katniss, there is no District 12.” UMMM WHO DID NOT GO CRAZY FOR THE NEXT BOOK AT THAT? SRSLY. « Hide Spoiler
- Everbound by Brodi Ashton: View Spoiler »I really NEVER saw it coming that feeding on Cole would turn Nikki into an Everliving. NEVER. MIND BLOWN. « Hide Spoiler
- The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan: View Spoiler »LITERAL CLIFFHANGER. Holy crap, my heart was POUNDING – and to wait a YEAR after that? Many tears were shed. « Hide Spoiler
- The Falconer by Elizabeth May: View Spoiler »KIARAN ALMOST DIED AND THEN APPARENTLY MIGHT BE EVIL??! HOW DARE YOU LEAVE ME WITH THAT. *cries forever* « Hide Spoiler