Connie Willis has a new book out called Blackout. No, this review is not supposed to be about Ms. WIllis’s new book, a book that I am not going to buy even though I’m a big fan of Ms. Willis’s writing. This post is about the reason that I’m not going to read Ms. Willis’s new book anytime soon. The last line of the Publisher’s Weekly review of Blackout says, “Readers allergic to cliffhangers may want to wait until the second volume comes out in November 2010.”
So. This review is about The Maze Runner and why I’m frustrated with authors and publishers who publish cliffhanger novels and tell us to wait until six months from now, next year, who knows when, for the next installment, which may or may not resolve and complete the story. I already watch LOST, for pete’s sake. Do you know how many unresolved stories I already have hanging around inside my head waiting for the author and the publisher (or TV producer) to get around to finishing the story?
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins “leaves enough questions tantalizingly unanswered for readers to be desperate for the next installment.” (Publisher’s Weekly) Semicolon review of the first book in the series, The Hunger Games.
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness. Sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go. However, we’re not finished yet. Resolution is yet to come. The story is not over . . .
Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter. The third book in the Gallagher Girls series about a girl who attends a secret school for spies. This one is not so very cliff-hanger-ish, but I still have to carry the details of who’s who and what’s going on around in my head until the fourth book comes out.
The Roar by Emma Clayton “should also feature at the very least a warning label: ‘YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FINISH THIS STORY FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS. READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL.’ The Roar is a very good story but it doesn’t end so much as it stops, in mid-story.” Semicolon review here.
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. The sequel, Forge, is due out this month. Will the second book complete Isabel’s story or not?
And these are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Some books for which I very much wanted to read “the rest of the story” have faded into the dim mists of my 52 year old memory, and I wouldn’t know what was happening to whom if I did happen upon the sequel(s).
The Maze Runner is a good book. It reminds me of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It has tension, suspense, dystopian undertones, a bit of romance, and lots of action.
However, the ending is not, an ending that is. If you want to know what really happens to Thomas and the rest of the kids trapped in The Maze, you won’t really be able to find out until . . . Well, the sequel, The Scorch Trials, is due out in October, and Mr. Dashner is still working on the third book in the trilogy, The Death Cure. I don’t think I’ll last that long.
I have a suggestion for publishers and authors. I know that getting readers hooked on a series sells books. I know that you can’t fit all of that wonderful epic novel into just one five hundred page book sometimes.
1. Finish the story before you publish anything. Write all three or all five or all ten volumes of your story before you publish the first one.
2. Publish one book per month or every two months, kind of like Dickens and Thackeray and those other Victorians did when they published their novels in installments. I might be able to remember what happened in the first book long enough to read and enjoy the second.
3. At least, warn us when your novel ends in a non-ending cliff-hanger.
I don’t think anyone is listening. But I only have room for one LOST never-ending series of questions, partial answers, more questions and unresolved relationships and plots in my life. If you warn me that you will be finishing the story in the next decade or so, I might make room in my brain for it as soon as LOST ends in May.