Monday, May 6, 2013

Let's Talk Cliffhangers

Let's talk cliffhangers. You know those drop-your-jaw, I-can't-believe-this-just-happened moments that we love but hate so much? Yes. Let's talk about them. 

I just finished the book, Connected, and I am so mad. It left on a cliffhanger that leaves me wondering about what's going to happen in the second book, Torn. But it's not out yet, so I can't know. And it's killing me to have to wait. 

I have a love/hate relationship with cliffhangers. I think they are necessary evils for book series. How else are you supposed to give your readers a glimpse of what is to come in the next book? They are bridges to tie in the books, and they also leave your readers wanting more. I think leaving your book with a cliffhanger makes people that much more serious about buying and reading the next one. They want to know what happens, and they want resolution. 

Some books in a series, though, don't need to end on cliffhangers. If you have a series that features different characters, you might not need them. If each of your books is about different main characters, then you need resolution for the characters in the one before it. That's like with Kelly Elliott's Wanted series. Each book is a different love story with different characters. She keeps the same characters and writes about them in the next book, but they aren't the main focus anymore, because their story has been resolved. It's time for the other characters to have the spotlight. 

But I hate it when people give books lower reviews because of them. What were they expecting? If it's a series, you have to expect that there will be cliffhangers, and that there will be no resolution in the first book, or even the ones to follow (or there might be a tiny bit, but not enough to tie up the loose ends of the book). That happened in The Selkie Sorceress. While all of the characters in Sophie Moss' brilliant Irish fairy tale trilogy were left with happy endings, there was still a story-line that could be pursued further in another book. I'm not going into details because I don't want to spoil anything, but we learn about another character near the end. That left a hole in the plot that could be developed later on. But that other story-line did not take away from the book or leave the series without resolution. It didn't leave the book on a cliffhanger, either. It just gave us a glimpse of what could possibly be another great book.

I hate them even more when I have to wait a long time for the next book in the series. Seriously? A whole year? Ugh. It sucks! Maybe I should start reading book series when they are all out and I can read them one after another. But then again, I like the waiting and anticipation; I like being kept in suspense (which is why I love mysteries so much). But it still sucks having to wait, especially when you really love that series and you can't imagine letting the characters go yet.

Like I said, it's a love/hate relationship. But they are necessary for authors who are writing a series, especially the ones that continue with the same main characters, which makes them expected. Readers need to remember that when they put reviews up on Goodreads, or Amazon, or their blog. Because once you get the next book and start reading, you'll understand why the cliffhanger was needed, and you'll appreciate the author's way of bridging the gaps between the novels. You just won't like the wait when you finish a really good book and the other one won't be out for a long while. I know I'm impatiently waiting for a few books of my favorite series to come out myself: including Allegiant (Divergent, #3), Found (The Crescent Chronicles, #3)Blurred (Kissed by Death #2), and Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3).

You either love 'em, or you hate 'em. Or you just don't like the wait. Either way, cliffhangers are those necessary evils that authors just love to torture us readers with.