Friday, April 29, 2011

How High the Cliff?


So, today Stacie and I thought we'd discuss something we've been seeing a lot of lately and get your thoughts on it: the cliffhanger ending.

Many of the books we read are actually series. And that's great! Because it means more of the characters we love! But what we love MORE is feeling the need to read the next book BECAUSE WE LOVE THE CHARACTER, not because we feel tricked into it because of the cliffhanger.

So very true. I like for things to be wrapped up, at least a little bit, while waiting for the next book. It's not like a sitcom where we only have to wait a week - we usually have to wait at least a year!

Exactly. I think the biggest problem with a cliffhanger ending isn't so much the wait as it is that I end up feeling like I paid for half of a book. The story needs to have SOME resolution.

Agreed. I'm all for a little cliffhanger action, so long as the major action in the book I've read has a resolution of some sort.

So, Acceptable Cliffhangers: Will the hot boy kiss her AGAIN? Does the big bad guy come back? Will the OTHER hot boy kiss her at all? Will her parents find out she snuck out to see hot boy? NOT ACCEPTABLE CLIFFHANGERS: MC's destiny will forever be shaped by this ONE EVENT THAT… you don't get to find out about until next book.

Timeless by Alexandra Monir actually did it well because there was resolution and I thought everything was finished, wrapped up with a pretty bow, and then WHAM. Cliffhanger. So, there was SOME resolution, but she set up the next book in a dramatic fashion.

I think Harry Potter did a great job of not leaving giant cliffhangers, and yet there was an incredible draw to always read the next book. I don't feel like the author has to beat me over the head with the drama to get me to read.

HP is an excellent example. Of course, those books followed a formula, so the reader knew there would be resolution. I think formulaic series (is that a term? it is now) are better at avoiding the cliffhanger.

And what do you think about The Hunger Games series? I remember my jaw dropping at the end of the first book - I had no idea I was reading a series. I immediately got up and checked to see when the next book would be coming out. But, I wasn't mad about the way the book was finished, just dying for more.

I actually think each book in The Hunger Games followed it's own arc and so it was okay. The main conflict was the particular set of games and those were resolved, for the most part. The cliffhangers were about the more emotional and political aspects of the books.

I agree. Leaving some things 'undone' is completely understandable and I actually like that, but when EVERYTHING is left to question - that is when I want to throw the book.

Ah, well, I guess we expect SOME cliffhangery-ness. Our beef is with the height of the cliff.

That's perfect! I'm okay with a short cliff, and even still with a medium sized cliff. But looming cliffs that have no view of the ground? That's when I want to throw the book.... off the cliff.

What about you all? How his is too high for your cliffhangery-ness? Do you love them, hate them, want to throw books too? Do tell!



  1. Ditto! I do not care for a high cliff. Nightshade was an example of a cliffhanger I thought was too high and I did not appreciate. It was WAY too high. It just kind of ended in the middle of the action! I was like, wait, what?! No more pages?! Maybe my nook is confused, maybe there ARE more pages...somewhere else? But, nope.

    And, while I like serials, I think each book should stand on its own-not that each subsequent book needs to relay everything that happened to catch you up-but the plot of each book needs to be wrapped up at the end. If there are a few things left open, that's okay-even if it wasn't a series, I like some things left open for my own brain to wrap up. Delirium, for example, I had no idea it was a series until I finished. And even though there are things that CAN continue, it doesn't have to. That one book wrapped up its own plots and situations. So, again, all that bla bla bla to say, DITTO :)

  2. Completely agree with what you guys said. There is a very frustrating feeling when it's an overwhelming cliffhanger. I do agree that J.K. handled it so well because while we knew that the big cliffhanger was Will Harry or Voldy die/survive, the minor ones were resolved and it wasn't played to a cheesy mid-sentence type ...ellipses...cliffhanger.

  3. I totally agree with you guys. I feel like I'm being taken advantage of by some authors in their failure to resolve anything in a seeming attempt to get you to buy the next book. I've flounced series for that. There are too many good books out their to bother to be jerked around like that.

    Related to the books standing on their own without repeating all the canon stuff, I've read books that are whorishly parts of series but STILL repeat everything in each book (hello Casts, I'm looking at you). It does make the reading go faster if you can skim that stuff. :/

  4. I hate having to wait so long for the next book!
    And then I forget what brought us to the cliffhanger and I have to reread to remember everything.

  5. I so totally agree! I like to read books like; Bumped, Inside Out, Graceling, Iron Queen, and The Vespertine, where I was happy at the end - even with some questions left unanswered, and then thrilled that the author was writing another book/sequel. I will keep buying them because I know the author isn't going to infuriate me. Leaving some plot-lines open to my imagination is fine, but dangling an answer just out of reach and then making me wait a year for it is just cruel! But who am I kidding I have loved some series that utilized the cliff, I just don't prefer it.

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