On Thursday, I put up a review that was essentially a rant about three little words: To Be Continued.
What I was trying to get at was the frustration I feel at the cliff-hanger endings that those three words represent. As a couple commenters put it in the original post, I have no problem with series where the story goes from one book to the next. What I have a problem with is books — and this seems to only happen in middle grade books — where the story, the action, just stops.
I’ve thought about series a lot since I finished Mockingjay, actually. About what makes a series good for me, especially. But also, what makes series books appealing. The second one is easy: I think a lot of it has to do with familiarity, and revisiting characters we love. There are times, true, when it’s the story that keeps us coming back for the next book — Hunger Games is an obvious example, as is Harry Potter: it’s the characters, yes, but Collins and Rowling also wrote stories that kept us wondering — and talking about — what happens next.
And yet, they are also two examples — Percy Jackson is a third — where each book could stand on its own. They’re part of a larger story, yes, and it’s best to read them in order. But each individual story has a beginning, a middle, and most importantly, and end. Each story comes to its own conclusion while keeping us intrigued as to where the larger story is going.
Sure, there are other ways to handle a series — Narnia and Wrinkle in Time are two examples that I can think of where it’s familiar characters having new adventures in each book (again: an ending!) — but whatever way it’s managed, and for however long the series goes on (though, honestly, I think if a series goes beyond say, 5 books — or doesn’t have any foreseeable ending — then it’s just the author not being able to come up with any new ideas. Is that harsh of me?), the books must — MUST — have a unique ending.
What do you think: do you have any strong opinions on series books?